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Beautiful Brawlers VII
By Joe Phenneger
Photo: Blanca Gutierrez/
and Joe Phenneger
September 15, 2017

(SEPT 15) In the sport of boxing there are two constants---there is a winner and a loser. For centuries around the world people have been fascinated seeing two men pitted in battle one on one to see who was superior, and had the ability to destroy the other man. From the times when men fought on horses with swords to modern times when the battles are settled in the ring nothing catches peopleís attention more than a fight. Over the past twenty years though there has been a change. No longer has it just been men fighting but also females have joined in the battle to become gladiators.

No longer are boxing gyms filled with just men or boys but also now women and girls. And just like men and boys these women and girls train, bleed, sweat, cry and go thru the same emotions. To be a fighter male or female the same rules apply----you train hard,  you donít eat bad foods, you run you sacrifice and you are rewarded with well there isnít a guaranteed reward.

Seven years ago Blanca Gutierrez came up with the idea of having an all-female fight show. With the goal of showing female fighters they and they alone had the ability not only to fight well but they also could should and did deserve to have an event just for themselves to display their skills.

Five years ago I went to my first show with my teammate at the time the queen of the ring Melissa Monroy.  She not only was my teammate but also my sparring partners, my training partner and my best friend at the gym.  Every day we beat the crap out of each other for four rounds in the ring hitting each other with every punch we could. For 12 minutes we hated each otherís guts every day but after we both ran to our parents to complain about the other while they took our head gears off we just as quickly ran to same heavy bag to hit and then jogged together.

At the time I had no idea there would only be girls on the show. I couldnít believe there were girls even smaller than Melissa and some women who were adults all fighting. I remember Melissa won her fight and a few other girls I knew at the time fought like Little Giant Graciela won too. At the time I didnít think anything of it but damn I wanted a belt just like them.

Since then I have returned four more times to see Beautiful Brawlers. Many of the same girls still fight on the show just a year older and a year better, just like guys. I met at the time number one Heavyweight contender Martha Salazar to then WBC world champion Martha Salazar. I met "Mighty" Melissa McMorrow who also was a world champion as well as many of the best amateur females in the world.

If you have ever been to a boxing show you know what to expect. Little kids, teen kids maybe a few older guys and girls fighting. You know someone will win someone will lose and thatís that. I canít remember ever seeing a fight though at Beautiful Brawlers that was a mismatch. Every girl or woman fights someone close to their ability and the winner has to bring it because they are matched really close. Most other shows have several mismatches.

I have had a chance thru Beautiful Brawlers to see and meet the best amateur boxer alive Heaven Garcia. I donít care what anyone says because no one can prove me wrong on this there is no boxer alive male or female who has her skill set. She can win left handed or right handed and she can dominate any opponent standing in pocket or slightly moving with body shots or slipping punches and countering. If there is a better fighter in amateur boxing I have not seen them and I wonít lie itís not even close between her and whoever is second.

I also became friends with another world champion boxer my old teammate Lupe Gutierrez who just like Heaven went and won worlds in China. Lupe used to be Brawler but now she fights the way I use to before I became a football player moving around the ring picking her spots and pop shotting opponents. Lupe knows her style makes it where a mistake or two in any round can cost her fight but she is skilled enough to take the risk.

At the show this year the fighter with most pressure was Lupeís sister Layla who is also a skilled great boxer. Layla though is most like me because like me,  she fights under the shadow of being related to a world champion and has pressure that no one will ever know. I remember being under the same pressure as her being at the gym with four national champs and knowing no matter how many fights in a row I won I wasnít considered crap because my parents wouldnít let me travel.   Layla wonít admit it but she faces same pressure but she loves boxing and fights.

No matter male or female boxing is a blur. Everything happens fast and in under 10 minutes all the training all the running dieting sore hands sweat and pain is either worth it or worthless. One mere mistake as small as it may seem can turn into another. Soon game plans are gone panic sets in and no one feels it more than fighter. Not coaches with mad faces or judges who act like they once owned the sport or doctor who gets annoyed after fights when boxers donít run straight over to get checked but need seconds to compose themselves.

Layla fought a great first round but then got caught with a small shot that flustered her. Same shot she or any other boxer gets hit with in sparring but in ring in front of crowd sometimes that shot or any shot turns a fight. The jab stops being used game plan isnít used anymore instead of fighting too much thinking clock running coach yelling friends parents yelling and all while damn clock is running. Layla fought ok not her best and she never told me this but I know in her head that no shot hurt her. Her nerves took over and the damn clock kept going too fast. She lost a close decision to a very skilled boxer and doesnít need to feel sad.

Layla though just like any other person in boxing who doesnít get win had that sick feeling. I saw the tears my dad saw them he even had them for her too, even though he doesnít know I saw them because he knew and I know the pain she felt feeling she let everyone down when reality is no one else in building had close to pressure she did. I am proud my friend. Layla is a boxer and a champion.

My other former teammate Brandy Soto also fought on the show. No one fights harder than Brandy. She is a nice person and like me a Cowboys fan but if you get in ring with her you better is willing to fight. There were many good fights on this show but Brandyís fight was like Haggler Hearnís nonstop action. At the end they gave decision to other girl but it was so close both couldnít argue on who had won or lost.

Seven years ago, Blanca made a decision to showcase female boxing. Many females have come through her shows. Some like Heaven Garcia, Lupe Gutierrez, Bambi, Sandra Tovar and a girl from Vegas Czarina Mc Coy, as well as others I am sure will compete for right to go to Olympics. Others, just like guys will still love boxing but quit competing. All will have the memories of fighting on the premier female boxing show in USA. Some will have the belts to prove they are champions others will have the Jose Sulaiman Medal which in my opinion is best award I have seen aside from my trophy when I won best boxer 12 and under at Junior Olympics years ago. What they will have most is the memories of being so important that they were invited to be on the biggest best female show in USA.

Boxing has been same for over a century. There is a winner there is a loser. Both with same goal one succeeds other walks away with empty spot in their heart. Male or female it doesnít matter ask any fighter they will tell you this and I know this feeling as a fighter. Beautiful Brawlers gives females young, old and in middle to have that dream to for one day be that fighter everyone goes home talking about.

I finish with how a fighter describes themselves. All fighters are similar but I will give you her words, not mine.

ďMy goal is to be an Olympic Champion for my country and my city and my family. I started watching boxing on TV and wanted to be powerful like Johnny Tapia who was from my city in Albuquerque New Mexico. I love the competition of trying to be best even though boxing is a lonely sport where training is hard sacrifices are tough but I love it. ď

These are the words of a fighter not a male fighter not a female fighter but a fighter. Anyone who has ever fought not only understands these words from Beautiful Brawler Estrella Iturralde they live these words. Thatís why they are fighters and FEW have courage to ever become one.

Blanca started this event 7 years ago and now people from Canada and all around USA including Mission, Texas birthplace of greatest NFL coach ever Tom Landry come to compete and because of Blanca that city not only has 2 Super Bowl Trophyís but also Beautiful Brawler Championship belt..

About writer Joe Phenneger

Joey Phenneger started boxing at 9 years old and is 14 years old now. He has had 22 amateur boxing bouts. His favorite sport is boxing.  He says, ďBecause you always are at gym working out and everyone has to do same thing. Itís also fun to listen to coaches in boxing talk and tell stories."

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