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Team Gryphon training local boxers to excel

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Sisters Karmella, left, and Marilyn Valenzuela hold belts and trophies from previous fights. (Submitted Photo)

Copyright © 2021 Roswell Daily Record

Local boxing team Gryphon has a sister act throwing punches for them in Karmella Valenzuela, 13, and her sister, Marilyn Valenzuela, 14.

Their mother hated that they would argue all the time. Their parents decided they had to do something after school. Both tried soccer, but one hurt her knees.

Soccer was over with, and they decided to try boxing. For the past nine months, they have been under the tutelage of coach Sergio Gonzalez.

Marilyn, in one fight, was outpointed. She fights at 154 pounds and was set to have a rematch against the girl who beat her. Marilyn said she was mad because they counted points against her because she held up her fist, to block punches.

Karmella Valenzuela is 3-1. She has hopes to turn pro one day. She fights southpaw but is trained to fight with either hand. Her biggest strength is her jab.

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The team has been trained to use the first round to find out how their opponents are trying to fight them. Usually, it will take them the first 30 seconds of the first round to determine that.

The fighters that give both Valenzuela sisters trouble are brawlers. Because Karmella has a long reach, it is hard for her to get the distance to be able to throw punches.

Marilyn is a power puncher. Conditioning is a key aspect for the fighters. They do a lot of bench presses and climbing ropes, along with running three miles a day.

Both sisters said they understand that learning how to defend themselves has been one of the main things they have gotten out of boxing. They also said learning how to defend themselves is a key thing.

“We are known for being a tough team,” coach Gonzalez said. “I have learned that girls are faster learners, and they pick up boxing skills faster and they are more committed, and they don’t complain as much.”

Gonzalez said he learned the girls are naturals while training them. He is working on having a female coach come to the team to help the girls with their training.

Gonzalez is a former Marine and learned boxing while in the service. He has trained his daughter as a fighter.

“I’m hoping to pass boxing skills along to these kids,” Gonzalez said. “I want them to train hard and to give 100% no matter what they do in life.”

The team is hoping to have more fights in Roswell — but in order to get fights, they have traveled to Wyoming, El Paso, Texas and Colorado, among other places. One of the problems with the girls fighting is they have trouble being matched up.

Marilyn said that fighting has given her confidence and helped her meet new people she would not have met.

Karmella said that boxing has helped her get out of the house and made her determined to go pro. She said that she has watched all of the Rocky movies and believes her dreams can come true.

Local boxing champion Senaida Salazar holds her trophies from winning her bouts. (Submitted Photo)

Senaida Salazar is a freshman at Dexter High School. She has been boxing for two years and always wanted to try it. Salazar was introduced to boxing when Gonzalez was a substitute at Dexter. He mentioned that she would be good at boxing and she should give it a try.

Salazar said that boxing has given her something to do. Normally she would be at home. Her fight record at the time this story was written was 2-4 and she had won her previous two fights.

In the four matches she lost she was overmatched, taking the fights to get experience. Her fighting weight is 106 pounds.

Salazar is a boxer and has trouble with fighters that brawl. To combat getting into a brawling match, she has the ability to switch hands, which often confuses her opponent. This allows her to get distance to start working her jab. Salazar considers herself a thinking boxer.

“Boxing is something fun that I can do,” Salazar said. “I like that it doesn’t take a team to do. I like to do things by myself.”

Hungry to get better and fight, Team Gryphon will match up with anyone on short notice.