Amateur boxer Ayanna Vasquez of Las Cruces, New Mexico, was first introduced
into the sport at the young age of 6½ years old by her father, Rick Vasquez Sr.,
and her two brothers, Rick Jr. and Adam Vasquez.
Ayanna told WBAN, "My father would take me to
the Las Cruces P.A.L. gym where they would train alongside established boxers
like Sammy Di Pace Jr. and WORLD CHAMPION Austin Trout. While I was there he
would put small gloves on me to keep me entertained and out of the way......He had
no idea that I would eventually take boxing to heart and demand to train
alongside the guys."
Photo Credit: Christine Lessau
"I finally asked my Dad if I could start training as a boxer
and compete. By this time I was only 6, turning 7, and in order to compete, I had to
be 8 years old, according to the USA Boxing Rules. None the less, I continued to train and or so
I thought I was training....Finally my father and my other coach (the Late Sam Di
Pace) Little Sammy’s dad had enough of me complaining that I wasn’t being
trained like the guys so they threw me in the ring against one of the younger
new kids (a boy). By this time I was about 7 years old. They never told me whether
they thought I did good or bad----all I know is that we both had bloody noses!
young boy who at the time was 6 ½ years old would eventually become my sparring
partner Edmund Guzman, a 2012 USA silver medalist," added Ayanna.
Since Ayanna could not compete in USA sanctioned events because she was too young,
her father would take her to kickboxing events, and match her up with boys or
girls her age and weight that were willing to box against her.
Ayanna said, "I know between the ages of 7 and
12 we traveled a lot---not just USA sanctioned events, but also kickboxing
shows. When I competed in the Kickboxing shows, I accumulated around 20 to 25 boxing matches. I went undefeated
at unsanctioned shows and eventually had to resort to only fighting at USA
Boxing Sanctioned events."
At 17 years old, Ayanna's last kickboxing-boxing match was against Brandi "Baby
Doll" Montoya. The two were fighting for the SWKA 114 lb. 2011 State
Championship. Ayanna won by unanimous decision.
As a young boxer in 2005-2006, she won the Ringside World Championship at the 75
and 80lbs division, and at the 2006 PAL National in Oxnard, California.
Ayanna reflected on her first loss in the amateurs saying: "My very first loss came at the hands Of Kimberly Nolasco in a matched
bout at the 2008 Women's Golden Gloves, in Hollywood, Florida. We moved up from 95 lbs. to
106 for this fight. This loss haunted me for three years. In June of 2010 at the
Junior Olympics Nationals Camp, that took place in Lejeune, North Carolina---I
had an opportunity to avenge that loss. This was in the same year that I
was honored to be awarded the outstanding female/and outstanding Female Team of
Ayanna told WBAN that in 2010 P.A.L Nationals in San Antonio, Texas, that she
was again awarded outstanding female, just to lose the Championship, which she
questioned, to Riana Rios, which was another loss that she swore to avenge.
In 2011, Ayanna and her team were met with some frustration saying, "In 2011---a year in which no one was really sure what the judges were looking for.
We found ourselves playing Russian Roulette with strategy because we weren’t
sure what was being scored. So on a team approach, we felt that our best bet was to make the attempt to outpoint
opponents or keep the 'pro style boxing' that we had been working on. We
made that decision to chose the
pro style because it worked well in stopping our first opponent. But
lost---yes, and you guessed it---it was on points: 19 to 16.
My opponent won but she paid for it by taking two eight counts and a bloody nose
and Black eye."
In the same year, Ayanna turned open and finally got to
progress to four rounds. And so....Ayanna would get a chance to avenge her
loss to Riana Rios at the 2012 Olympic Qualifier.
Ayanna said, "At the 2011 PAL National in Toledo, Ohio, I
defeated Riana 4-0 and then faced a amateur veteran boxer Sacred Downing.
I remember seeing Downing for the first time when I was just 12 years old. I
lost the fight to Downing by two points, who in turn lost to Alex Love.
"I continued fighting
between 112 and 119 at which I fought my hardest and toughest fight to date against
Mexico’s best, strongest, and most talented boxer and 2013 Mexican Gold Medalist
Sulem Urbina Soto.
"In these back-to-back matches these two fights were the only fights that I can
remember me ever getting injured. I had deeply bruised my left bicep in the first
match and again in the second."
In 2012, Ayanna found it too difficult to stay at her fighting
weight of 112 lbs., so she moved up to 119 lbs. Ayanna said that at 119
lbs., that this is where boxing really began to be fun for her, more power,
faster hands, and more opponents.
"I fought seven matches before I
entered the 2011 USAB Nationals where I won over Virginia Fuchs 25/23; Haley Paison;
22/15 and came up short against Christina Cruz 18/11."
"I personally felt the scores were way
closer with Cruz. I brought home the Bronze medal along with my sparring partner
and teammate Edmund Guzman who brought home the silver. A couple weeks later
with great honor, Guzman and I
were both given the 'Key to the City Of Las Cruces' by our Mayor Ken Miyagishima,"
On February of 2012, in the "Border Rumble" boxing event that
was showcasing Fort Bliss and El Paso Boxing talent, Ayanna was set to fight
Pfc. Chasity Funseth, an intelligence analyst for Intel and Sustainment Company,
1st Armored Division, who was preparing for the national championships.
According to journalist Sgt. Jennifer Spradlin, who covered the event wrote the
"Funseth's opponent, Ayanna Vasquez, from the Las Cruces Police Athletic
League, proved to be a fierce, accurate striker, landing a volley of punches to
Funseth's face and head. Funseth stayed with the match, landing many of her own
punches, but ultimately, came up short."
On March 5, 2012, reported in the El Paso Times, they wrote the
following: "Las Cruces Boxers Medal at the USA Boxing National
Championships....Edmund Guzman, 16, of Las Cruces, won the Silver Medal and
Ayanna Vasquez, 17, also from Las Cruces, won the Bronze Medal at the 2012 USA
Boxing National Tournament. The week-long tournament in Fort Carson, Colorado
concluded Saturday, March 3. Guzman is now ranked No. 2 in the nation in the
men's flyweight division (114 pounds) and Vasquez is ranked 3rd in the nation in
the women's bantamweight division (119 pounds). Vasquez and Guzman were two of
11 fighters representing New Mexico and were the only two to place. This is the
first time Vasquez or Guzman have fought in the USA National Tournament as
Men's/Women's Open fighters. As Junior fighters, Vasquez was a nine-time
national champion and Guzman a state champion. Guzman and Vasquez both fight out
of the Las Cruces Police Athletic League (PAL) Boxing Club. A program that takes
at-risk youth off the streets and teaches them discipline through boxing. "
Throughout the year of 2012, Ayanna continued to fight at 119
lbs., having her only loss with the one fight with Christina Cruz.
In 2013, a year in which it brought great disappointment and sorrow, she
continued to fight at 119, but found herself not able to match up anywhere in
the state, or surrounding states. With that continued frustration, her
team and she decided to even go back to fighting at kickboxing shows to keep
Ayanna said, "a trip to the
OTC was good but not good enough. I was and am hungry to fight.
For more than two weeks, is just not enough time to do anything, even with good,
but limited sparring. A trip to Washington State for the 2013 USAB
Nationals would start our thinking it's time----time to hand up the amateur
"Having graduated from high school in 2012, and enrolled at Vista College the
same year, and graduating with a Medical
Assistant degree in 2013, we gave the USA Nationals one more shot thinking that
the judges were actually looking for the pro style boxing. I faced off with Clarisa Morton
and beat her with a 3/0 decision. I was then faced with Christina
Cruz for a second time---thinking that this time she would have to fight----only proved to
me that the judges still didn’t know exactly what they were looking. I lost
again only this time a 3/0 decision, sealing our decision to end the amateur
career and step into the pro ranks."
Our final decision came at the announcement of the Olympic
weight classes for the amateur female boxers would not increase, only allowing
three weight classes to compete in the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics.
Ayanna's Future goals?
"Now, in hope that I will be able to avenge my two losses, fighting Cruz
as a professional boxer. It would be a great honor. She brings out the
best in her fights---even more exited at taking a shot at Marlen Esparza, should
she decide to turn pro.
Ayanna, a truly amazing and one of the top amateurs in the sport today, finishes
her impressive amateur career with a 89 wins with USA Boxing, and nine losses,
with all losses coming in National levels.
Ayanna said, "I became the only female boxer from New Mexico thus far to accomplish
this in the years 2010/2011/2012/2013. Those years were filled with great moments
and accomplishments and also great losses. I lost the man that would always look
at me and say you can do what you put your mind to, my second Coach Sam Di Pace
standing to my left with that big smile we could never forget. And also throught
a senseless act of evilness and greed I (we) lost a dear and close friend in Sulem's
lil brother Alexis Urbina, USAB best 141 lb boxer and future Olympian---- a person
that could lift your spirits and make you smile and pump you up all with one smile