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Arts & Culture

Hit like a girl: women boxers in a man's world



Coach Alcoser: once reluctant to train women, he's now a believer.

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Paloma Campos (left) and Mónica Álvarez going toe-to-toe.

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When asked about the dangers in the ring, Alcoser turns serious.

"Boxing is a dangerous sport, 'cause you get hit in the head a lot. You have to take care of number one, the fighter."

"I tell my boxer it's a contact sport; the head can only take so much punishment. I spar my boys and girls but I don't spar them that often — twice, sometimes once. It's more about technique. Eighty-five percent is going through the skills. We go full contact. I believe in sparring, but they need to save their brain. All wear protectors in the ring and in competition. We have to be licensed trainers. The club has to be licensed. And to spar you have to be licensed and have insurance."

What about the old trainer in Clint Eastwood's boxing film?

"As much as I love Clint Eastwood, his movie, Million Dollar Baby, was too dark."

And the myth that boxing is in one's blood?

"Boxing is not in your blood. That's a lot of bunk. Julio César Chávez can say that his son has boxing in his blood, but that's not true. You have to learn how to box in the gym."

"It is a dangerous sport. Also make sure you have the right trainer.

Have fun with it. If you struggle with it, learn to be a good technician."

How does he view the lure of lucrative contracts from venal promoters?

"Promotion is more about the promoter and the trainer making money. The fighter is the gladiator. If you have the wrong promoter and trainer you are going to win little money. Once you cross that line, you just sold yourself."

A few days later, another group of boxers is working out. Earlier, Alcoser confides that although the Boys & Girls Clubs of San Antonio sponsored Regional Golden Gloves was less than a month away, he was still hoping that his girls would be treated better than in previous years.

"We had problems with the use of the dressing areas. The women boxers were isolated and didn't get to see some of the matches while the boys had unlimited access. One of our girls fought three-three minute rounds [for males] instead of the four-two minute rounds [for women]. I'm still fighting for more respect for our young women."

Although the 2012 Olympics raised the bar in its integration of women boxers, the Golden Gloves -ninety years after its founding as an all male tournament – still has issues with its young women competitors.

San Antonio area regional male boxers who win in the open division move onto the state GG in Fort Worth, and, if they win there, go onto the nationals in Salt Lake City. Female boxers who win regional don't advance to state, but instead can move to the separate Women's National GG Tournament in Florida. After the all-women's victory for the USA Boxing Team at the Olympics, many state boxing organizations are now looking to add a separate all-women state Golden Gloves tournament.

Still, those concerns were not on the front burner as the group of young hopefuls sat down to speak about the pugilistic and personal progress they've made as part of Team Alcoser.

"I came into boxing because I'd be in trouble in school," Ana Lisa Sanchez said. "I'd be sad sometimes, and I wouldn't want to get up in the morning. I've been here since 2012. I want to participate in Golden Gloves this year. It's my life goal now."

Ruth Gonzalez continues to box after the recent birth of a child and while she won't compete in this year's Golden Gloves, she's already planning to participate next year. "I came to Al in 2006 because I heard he was a female boxing coach," Gonzalez said. "I was in the Golden Gloves competition twice. So I trained with him for a while, and after I had my baby, I am now just coming back. Yeah. Hopefully she'll become a boxer when she grows up. She already likes watching me train."

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