A Star in the Desert, Citlalli Ortiz Shines Bright in Women’s Boxing
May 20, 2018
Anthony Saldana (75 articles)
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A Star in the Desert, Citlalli Ortiz Shines Bright in Women’s Boxing

By Anthony “Stacks” Saldaña

Born and raised in the Coachella Valley of California, the undefeated boxing sensation, Citlalli Ortiz (32-0) is quickly becoming one of the most recognizable names in women’s amateur boxing. The 18-year old Ortiz is a senior at Coachella Valley High on her way to soon graduating and focusing on the 2020 Summer Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan. Ortiz who was recently named the 2017 Under Armour Youth Female Boxer of the Year first entered a boxing gym at the young age of eight. “My sister would beg my dad to take her to the boxing gym, I would tag along because I couldn’t say home alone.” Stated Ortiz in a recent interview with Supreme Boxing. “At first I would just go and watch what my sister and the others in the gym. Then in middle school my dad, as a teacher, wanted to avoid me getting bullied because of my weight. I weighed over 220 lbs. So I started to train, first it was for the exercise then I started sparring.” It was then at the age of 13 that boxing became a priority for Ortiz “One day that my dad came home and there were some boys who had come over, they grabbed some boxing gloves that were laying around the house and started to hit me. I didn’t do anything back. My dad got upset, he asked them if they wanted to spar me in the backyard. Once I put on my head gear & gloves, I remember my dad telling me to throw a jab & right. I did exactly what he told me and ended up knocking both of them out. That’s when my dad decided to start training me seriously and training me to compete.”

Boxing for the young star has come naturally, it was with record of (5-0) when Ortiz fought in a tournament in Reno, Nevada where she won her first National Championship. “I beat two former national champions and one of them was already a Junior World Champion.” Stated Ortiz. “They had much more experience than I did and I was still able to beat them with only five fights on my record. That gave me the confidence to keep facing the toughest opponents.” Ortiz gives much of the credit to her sister Brenda and others in boxing community “I always wanted to be as good as my sister Brenda was. She was the only one who was ever able to give me beatings and even make me cry in the ring, after her though I knew I didn’t want to get beat up again.” Stated Ortiz. “Cecilia Brækhus is another one of my boxing inspirations because she is the Undisputed World Champion and she is a role model inside and outside of the ring.” Ortiz went on to say “Recently, looking at what I’ve accomplished so far and what else I could accomplish once I reach my full potential. I look in the mirror and I feel I am becoming my own inspiration as well. I know that if I keep working hard and stay focused I can get anywhere with the help & blessings of God.”

Since winning that first National title Ortiz who trains at the Lee Espinoza Coachella Boxing Club and has sparred with the likes of former WBC Middleweight Champion Maricela Cornejo and former Champion Kaliesha West. Ortiz has also had the help of many along the way to assist in the cost of traveling “Thankfully, I have family in Atlanta, Florida, Chicago, New York, Phoenix and México that help me with whatever they can.” Stated Ortiz. “I do not have personal sponsors but Lee Espinoza Coachella Boxing Club does have important and generous sponsors that not only help me get to most of the tournaments I have been to, but it helps the entire boxing club, so I am grateful to Lee Espinoza for supporting me and my dad/coach to get to this level.” Some of highlights of Ortiz’ career so far consist of winning the the 2016 Junior & Youth National Championship, 2016 Junior Olympic Championship, 2016 Oxnard National PAL Championship, 2016 WBC Belt at Beautiful Brawlers, she’s a 3x Desert Showdown Champion, 2015 Gene Lewis Champion, 2016 Binational Champion, 2017 Youth National Champion, 2017 Mexican National Champion and recently closed out her impressive 2017 with a Women’s Youth World Championships, winning the tournament by split decision with a victory over Russia’s Nataliya Sychugova to take her first major international title in Guwahati, India. After the victory in India,  Ortiz received a Congressional Record from the United States Representative Dr. Raul Ruiz for her accomplishments in boxing.

An average day for Ortiz is busy one that starts early as she tries to successfully juggle, school, boxing and family life. “I go to school, after school I just relax for a while, then around 4:00 pm we eat dinner as a family. Sometimes I help in the kitchen preparing food, or just flipping tortillas for everyone at the table. After dinner I get homework done, go to the boxing gym, come home and rest or finish my homework, then I go to the fitness gym.” And although Ortiz has a busy schedule, she makes sure to have some fun as she like to listen music, some of her favorite artist include Bruno Mars, Metallica, Engelbert Humperdinck, Heroes del Silencio and Bad Bunny to name a few. Tuesday for Ortiz Family is movie night and Sundays are usually trip to Mexicali or Tijuana to catch a boxing show or a concert.

Now with less then two years before the Olympics and high school nearly out of the way, Ortiz has now focused on qualifying and making it to Tokyo “The Olympics are the most important thing on my mind right now, I turned down attending a few Universities that I was accepted to focus on them. I’ll end up going to community college instead because I know I have to focus on Tokyo 2020 and I am going to give 100% of my hard work and focus to reach that goal. I cannot have anything else on my mind other than that.”stated Ortiz “I know I have focus, concentrate, work and train hard, believe in myself, visualize it and leave it all in the ring because I know this will be my only opportunity to participate in the Olympics because I want to turn PRO right after that.”

The big question for Ortiz however is what country will she represent, Mexico or the United States? A question many would think Ortiz would have an easy answer for, but it has become a lot more complicated as the “Politics” of  USA Boxing have put this young Olympic hopefuls and her family in a tough situation forcing them to leave the options of fighting for Mexico on the table. The issue arose during the Youth Olympic Games in Argentina where Ortiz originally believed that she would fighting at her weight class of 69kg at the for Team USA, due to the fact that the Olympic Committee had already approved 69kg to be at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. However Ortiz was notified by USA Boxing that she wouldn’t be going to Argentina representing USA Boxing because her weight class of 69kg was not in the tournament. Ortiz began wondering why USA Boxing was refusing to take her if  the Mexican Boxing team had been trying to contact her to take her to Youth Continentals with the intention of qualifying her for the Youth Olympics in Argentina. “I just couldn’t understand why one country was trying very hard and the other one wasn’t. I kept looking for answers because I was already compromised with USA Boxing” stated Ortiz. “I wanted to keep representing USA for the rest of my amateur career. So I communicated with AIBA explaining my situation and AIBA said that the only way I could qualify to Youth Olympics in Argentina was if I fought at 75kg at Youth Continentals, but that it was up to USA Boxing to make that decision.” Ortiz and her father went on to set up a meeting with USA Boxing. Ortiz knowing that AIBA said it was possible for her to fight at 75kg asked USA Boxing to move her up in weight since her original weight of 69kg wasn’t at the Youth Olympics but USA Boxing stated to Ortiz “it wasn’t fair.”  “I don’t understand who it wouldn’t be fair to if there was no one at 75kg on the team that would be representing USA at the Youth Continentals and I believe it could’ve been me if they really wanted me to.” Stated Ortiz who went on to say “Mexico kept asking me to join them, since I was already a Youth National Champion at 69-75kg” After several meetings with the Ortiz family the Mexican Boxing Federation sent a letter asking USA Boxing for the release of Ortiz, which would allow her to participate in the Youth Continentals and Youth Olympic Games in Argentina representing Mexico at 75kg. USA Boxing however refused to release her stating to Ortiz “it’s better for you to fight for us than against us.” Ortiz does believe that it was possible for USA Boxing to reach an agreement with the Mexican Boxing federation in order to have her fight for Mexico. “If it wouldn’t be possible I don’t see why Mexico would bother sending a letter requesting me to represent them knowing about the two year rule of deciding to represent another country.” Stated Ortiz. “USA Boxing did not want to move me up, I tried to convince them during my last visit to the Olympic Training Center in Colorado back in March. USA Boxing set up a meeting where I personally spoke to them hoping to change their mind but they just didn’t understand how important going to Youth Olympics in Argentina was for me and when I noticed that Mexico was trying very hard to take me and USA Boxing wasn’t, I decided to focus with Mexico for now and take the rest of 2018 off with USA until I make my final decision. I missed out on a once in a lifetime opportunity because now I will never be able to qualify for a youth olympic games again and face opponents who are exactly my age.”

Ortiz still has plenty of time to decide which direction she’ll go and recently stated “I might go to Utah in December to win a spot on the Elite Team with USA if I feel something is not right with Mexico.” Ortiz does however see fighting for Mexico as a plus “If I fight for Mexico, I’ll have an opportunity to become the first female boxer in my weight division to represent Mexico in the Olympics, Mexico loves female boxing and I know that if I win a gold medal for Mexico, I’ll be all over the news, almost a national hero, and that would help me a lot by getting the attention of a promoter who would be interested in signing me.”

At the end of the day no matter what Citlalli Ortiz decides to do with her career or what country she decides to represent, she knows boxing isn’t forever. “My life dreams are to be an Olympian and win a Gold Medal, I don’t plan to be a professional boxer for a long time, I want to graduate from a University and obtain a degree regardless if boxing works out for me or not, but I have no doubt it will workout.” Stated Ortiz “ I do however want to stay involved in boxing in one way or another, and become a promoter now that I see how hard is to get their attention or interest. I’d be more accessible to help boxers reach their dreams. I want to get married someday of course, have kids and live a peaceful, relaxed life as much as possible. Enjoy life and travel the world.”

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Anthony Saldana