Beautiful Brawlers Founders Salazar and Gutierrez: Ready for The Future
By Felipe Leon
There is no denying that female boxing at the moment is in a renaissance. There is more female boxing being televised in the United States either on television or on applications than perhaps ever before. In less than 10 years we’ve had a two-time Olympic gold medalist in Claressa Shields as well as major promotors Top Rank and Golden Boy Promotions signing their first women to their rosters.
The talent pool in professional female boxing is deepening and one can only imagine what is in store for the sport in the next five to ten years. A big part of that future is Blanca Gutierrez of Northern California. Gutierrez, a renowned veteran of the female boxing world, founded an ultra-female friendly boxing gym in Pacifica, CA, Babyface Boxing, as well as the Beautiful Brawlers organization.
This weekend Gutierrez, along with former WBC heavyweight champion Martha Salazar and Bay Area staple Carina Moreno, will be inducted to the International Women’s Boxing Hall of Fame. The event hosted by the much-respected Sue Fox and her WBAN will coincide with the 9th Annual Beautiful Brawlers all-female amateur tournament presented by Gutierrez and her team.
“I love being inducted, I feel really humbled, it’s a beautiful recognition, I have sacrificed a lot of my life for that and people just don’t understand that,” Gutierrez said in an exclusive interview with the 2-Minute Round, the all-female boxing podcast. “A lot of times what is frustrating about it as we came up as women fighters, what was happening along the way, women weren’t supporting each other and we had to change that a bit. We’ve helped make that change.”
Former WBC heavyweight Martha Salazar (13-5, 3KO), who in 2014 at the age of 45 captured the green and gold strap, seconds the sentiment regarding her pending induction into the IWBHOF.
“It is just an honor, it is a privilege to be in that type of environment with all those fighters, and non-fighters also, that will be inducted that day; incredible,” Salazar also stated on the 2-Minute Round. “It is a feeling I can say I don’t have any words for it but I am proud to be in with that type of people, with all those fighters, and I just can’t take it that I will be inducted. I am happy and whatever God brings to me and blesses me with, I’ll take it.”
First True Mexican Heavyweight World Champ
Salazar, retired since 2016, captured the WBC belt with a unanimous decision over Tanzee Daniels and, although the boxing world is claiming Andy Ruiz Jr as the first Mexican to win that title, Salazar actually makes the case for herself.
“I am number one. I am the first Mexican to win the heavyweight world title. I was born over there,” explained the Ocotlan, Jalisco, native. “A lot of people don’t want to admit it that I am the first Mexican. They think that Alejandra Jimenez, (the current WBC heavyweight champion) is the first Mexican to win the heavyweight world title but that is not it. I understand, because I was born over there but raised over here in the United States, but my birth certificate does say I was born over there.”
Former multi-divisional world champion Carina Moreno (25-6, 6KO) of Watsonville, CA, will also be inducted into the IWBOF, despite being an active fighter. After a nearly five-year hiatus, Moreno came back to the ring earlier this year.
“I injured myself and took some time off,” she explained on the podcast. “A lot of people thought that I was retired, they didn’t know what I was up to since I haven’t been active in five years. I came back this year. I’m all healed up already and my goal is to go for another world title before I call it quits. Hopefully next year.”
“I was forced to take some off, it wasn’t that I had to take some time off because I was doubting my ability of fighting, not at all,” she explained. “As soon as I got cleared from my doctor that I was good to go, I knew I wanted to get back in that ring as soon as possible. I am happy. Boxing is my world when I am in that ring. I enjoy it a lot, I have a lot of fun with it, I love training. I still have it in me.”
Moreno, 37, a member of the first ever USA Female Boxing amateur team back in 2000, echoes the thoughts of Gutierrez and Salazar when it comes to the significance of her induction into the hall. “It is quite an honor, when I found out I was like, wow… all my hard work. And it is great to be acknowledged for all you have done from day one, to the amateurs, to what I accomplished as a professional. I’m a former five-time world champion in three different weight classes.”
“Being inducted with Blanca and Martha, we go way back from the kickboxing days, it is amazing,” she shared. “Missy Florentino is also getting inducted, me and her were in the USA Women’s boxing team when I was an amateur, it is going to be great to see her, I haven’t seen her in many years, hopefully she is here. Wendy Rodriguez, I fought her, Elena Reid, we did an exhibition; it is an honor just to be a part of it.”
Gutierrez, who is also part of the Pacifica, CA, Hall of Fame as well as the West Coast Boxing Hall of Fame, has organized the amateur tournament for the better part of ten years where she has seen it grow from 25 fights to nearly 50, with two rings going during the event.
“We are all there and the most important part of the show is not just the boxing but it is all the stuff that leads up to it where all the girls learn from and get mentored by the pros or the boxers that are older that have come before them,” Gutierrez explained. “The fighters make the show, I always tell them, and we never disappoint.”
“I love seeing these little girls having so much fun in there, having a blast,” Salazar said of what she takes from her work with the up and coming young ladies. “I always think about the times Blanca and I used to go to local coaches but nobody wanted to train us. Now there is a place all girls, any girl, can come and train, have fun and be part of the show.”
“We talk to them about education, about basically everything and we teach them the ropes on how to treat people, how to treat themselves,” Salazar continued. “Teach them about what we have learned and the experiences we have had, tell them the stories, so they know how it is. All these girls love the sport, they know what it takes, the discipline, it is a lifestyle that you have to be 100% in it in order to be successful.”
As for Gutierrez, she is confident the groundwork they have laid in the past will bear fruits in the future, not only in the amateurs but in the pros.
“I am never going to give up until Lupe Gutierrez or Alexis Gomez or even Mariana Gonzalez get their shot and make it into the Olympics,” she vowed. “Boxing is a lifestyle, something I will have forever. The biggest step is 2020, where our Bay Area girls make and try to win a gold medal.”
“Once all the amateurs come on that know how to fight, there won’t be any ducking because they will be used to fighting the best opponents,” Gutierrez said of what she expects from the future of the sport. “It is going to be a nice thing. It is getting better; the pay is getting better and that is what people want. They put their life on the line like everybody else, so that is what they want, higher pay and more exposure on TV.”
One thing Gutierrez has noticed is the upswing of young women making their way to a boxing gym. The difference has been considerable compared to when she, along with Salazar and Moreno, were getting their start. She attributes it to a number of factors including a certain fighter from Flint, Michigan.
“I think definitely Claressa Shields made a big difference, but what I also want to say is it was people like me, Martha and Carina, when we were back in the day, we didn’t even have separate dressing rooms,” she stated. “They didn’t treat us right; we didn’t even have coaches. So, there were people like us that never gave up. What we were doing was changing the philosophy in the gym.”
“Before in the Bay Area they didn’t want to have us sparring each other, they wanted to keep us separate,” she continued. “We started changing that, having all the girls together and having them spar. By that time we had some younger girls and when Claressa came a long and won her first medal at 17, she is a relatable person and when she won, she was a real person so it did make the girls want to get together and go further. There was also the Million Dollar Baby movie too, there was a couple of different things but definitely Claressa has made a big impact in the sport, winning two golds and proving to little girls that anybody can get in there and follow her dreams and win gold.”
To listen to the complete unedited interview, please visit BlogTalkRadio.com/2MinRound