Outside the Ring: Blanca Gutierrez

By Jill Diamond on February 23, 2016
Outside the Ring: Blanca Gutierrez
“I don’t know how many gyms I walked into for a chance to box that turned me down.”

Blanca’s father was her idol, her role model, and the person who tattooed the discipline and ethics of pure sportsmanship on her heart…

Sports and Philanthropy: A series of articles dedicated to those who’ve given their all and still give more. Each article will feature a different community champion; no belts, no medals, no ratings… just good people passing it on.

She’s a conscientious, heat seeking missile when it comes to women’s boxing. She’s sacrificed much, and she’s gained a little more; but it’s a struggle, in a world dominated by men. She learned the sport at her father’s knee. He was her idol, her role model, and the person who tattooed the discipline and ethics of pure sportsmanship on her heart. It’s muscle memory now, and she’s doing him proud.

As a young and blossoming promoter of woman’s amateur and professional bouts, Blanca Gutierrez is as much house mother and advisor as a nurturer of burgeoning talent. She’s staked her name, her marriage and her well-being on making “Baby Face” a top drawer, successful company, and as you’ll read below, her reputation means almost as much as her ability to pull off a great night of boxing. So, when the lights dim, and the announcer takes center stage, Blanca puts as much on the line as her fighters.

We wish he luck. With her mind on the present and her eye on the future, Blanca Gutierrez is a winner, and I hope her star will hang alongside all the greats who keep boxing vibrant, bring it fresh, and make it grow.

Tell me about your background?

My father was a boxer from Acapulco, Guerrero, Mexico. His name was Javier “Costenito” Gutierrez. He was a local hero in Acapulco and moved to Mexico at 14 after his mother died. My dad ended up fighting a lot in Tijuana where he met Bernie Ruden who became his manager and brought him to United States to fight. Bernie thought my dad looked like a child so he changed his fighting name to “Baby Face.” “Baby Face” Gutierrez became a familiar face and a pioneer in the Los Angeles boxing scene where he often fought at the Olympic Club and the Legion Auditorium during the 1950s. My dad married his childhood sweetheart and had five children. We grew up in Pacifica, a beach town, watching my dad jump rope, shadow box, run and eat raw eggs. He was a solid person who worked hard, had heart and always participated in our school activities.

What was it like having a boxer for a dad?

My dad focused on our education and he didn’t believe boxing or sports were for girls and I never got to join any sports teams or box. But I respected him and listened to all his boxing stories and experiences. He would cry when he talked about his boxing past. I cherished every one of his memories as if they were my own. We always watched boxing on TV. In those days boxing was on Saturdays and we got to watch all the big names fight, Ali, Duran, Hagler, Camacho, etc. My dad and I had such a major connection and it was boxing. My brothers would not take up the sport. It was always me who wanted to box. It was always me who jumped into his stories and relived them with him. I was very loved by my dad and he respected me when I became a kickboxer. I am my father’s daughter.

What do you do outside of boxing?

I am a sales trader for BTIG. It’s one of the largest brokerage firms in the world. I have worked in the brokerage industry since 19 years old and this is where I got my education on succeeding in a male-dominated world. I am the only women sales trader in my SF office. I find myself always involved in male-dominated sports or professions. I do better at them. I am tough. I worked on Wall Street in my early 20s, which changed my perspective on life, hustling and working hard.

What inspired you to promote women’s boxing?

I have always followed my heart in life and promoting female boxing is my heart. I have this drive to keep women’s boxing alive, to make it better and give females the chance that they deserve. I had grown up learning that sports and boxing were not for girls and I didn’t get the opportunities I needed or wanted.  Male coaches didn’t take me seriously. I don’t know how many gyms I walked into looking for a chance to box that turned me down. It was discouraging. I wanted other females who had the same love for the sport to get the chance to succeed. I wanted these young girl boxers to know that there is someone who cares, someone who will make their journey beautiful and will take them seriously. That’s why I promote female boxing. It’s a pure love for the sweet science. This is why I created Beautiful Brawlers an All-Female Boxing Promotion. I am often inspired by the young girls and women I meet in this sport. It’s a tough sport, a lonely sport, you have to have the drive and attitude to survive or become successful.

Tell me about the amateur championship cards?

Beautiful Brawlers All-Female cards set the stage for these young talented amateur boxers to display their skill and talent. Beautiful Brawlers shows only match the best against the best so that each boxer knows that when they fight for the Beautiful Brawlers Belt they have to earn it. I have many national champions from around the world who want to compete on this card because they have heard that the best show up to compete. We have a media day before the event. We feed the boxers on fight day to make sure they get the proper nutrition needed before they fight. We teach the girls about many other things besides boxing that enhances their fight career. Beautiful Brawlers added three WBC Amateur belts to this last show which bought the competition level up to the highest level it has ever been. World champions Martha Salazar and Melissa McMorrow and I put a lot of work into the buildup going into this event as we have sparring every Saturday at 9 AM so that anyone who needs sparring has it. We have professional women champions show up and sign autographs and talk to the boxers. Some donate gear or sponsorship to help the show. I am very proud of The Beautiful Brawlers Boxing Promotion. After our second show I got many calls asking for advice on how to put these all female shows together. The reason we started this was to give female boxer some exposure and to show people that we can fill seats.

What about this gives you the most pleasure? The most heartbreak?

What gives me the most pleasure is that I have built a brand which promotes female boxers and every boxer who has been in the show appreciates us for what we do. I can’t tell you all the emails, Facebook posts and notes I get from the boxers which make me laugh and sometimes cry. We have a sisterhood that cannot be broken.

Honestly, the only heartbreak I get is that it takes a lot of work to put these events together and when I get a complaint about the show its usually from someone who has never even attempted to put a show of this magnitude together. I take all the feedback or criticism I get and use the information to make the next show even better. Sometimes our own local boxing gyms do not want to see our personal success with this show but that just drives our fire for the next show.

Who are your role models?

My role models are my dad and mom who gave me the tools I need to live a happy life. My boss Scotty Kovalik who I have worked with for 25 years and who taught me about teamwork, work ethic, hustle, taking risk and giving people a shot, and my husband who coaches track and field and NEVER lets his team down. Talk about total commitment. My boxing angels who I look up to are Jill Diamond, Sue Fox and Christy Halbert who have done so much for women’s boxing.

If you could change anything about the sport, what would it be?

I would like to see women get paid more. I would like to see Women’s Boxing on TV. I would love to see TMT, Golden Boy, and Bob Arum give women’s boxing a chance on major cards. I would also like to see the best fight the best in women’s boxing; no ducking. I do believe women boxers need to pull together to make this sport better.

Do you think women’s boxing will ever take its place besides men’s?

Yes I do. If I didn’t think that I would be wasting my time trying to make it better, more accepted or more visible in the USA.

Do trainers have a different technique when working with women? If so, what’s different?

Most trainers I meet say they love training women more than men because women have more drive, take it seriously, want it more. Women know that in order to be taken seriously in this sport you have to train harder than the men.

What about the 2x10 versus 3X12?

After I spent time listening to Dr. Choe speak about concussions at the WBC Convention, I believe we should keep the rounds 2 minutes and 10 rounds. That is my opinion after learning about how women are more susceptible to concussions than men.

Do you think the number of rounds/minutes affect the purse?

Yes, I believe that the number of rounds and minutes of rounds affect the purse but women don’t even get 5% of what the men get paid. It’s ridiculous. Women still put their health and lives on the line just like the men do. They train while having full-time jobs and children and sacrifice so much to be a boxer. Most women’s bouts are much more exciting than the men’s bouts, so pay them more!

The best fight you’ve seen?

The best fight I’ve seen was in 1997—Jolene Blackshear vs. Anissa Zamarron for the IFBA light flyweight title. This was a toe-to-toe slugfest which showed the true skill, grit and perseverance of both boxers. I had never seen so many punches being thrown in a bout. I believe they won WBAN’s fight of the year. These two boxers in 1997 can be compared to Ibeth Zamora, Melissa McMorrow, Ava Knight or Jessica Chavez.

One fight you’d like to make?

I would like to make Ava Knight vs. Melissa McMorrow. I believe this would be a candidate for fight of the year. I would love to see these two champions fight in their own backyards in front of their fans, family and friends.

What honors/awards have you gotten? Given?

I have won numerous awards with the Beautiful Brawlers Promotion. I have won best amateur promoter of the year several years in a row. Some of the bouts on my cards have won best amateur bouts of the year. I have won SF Veterans Boxer award for accomplishments in female boxing. I was asked to be a director for the West Coast Boxing Hall of Fame so I can have a say in the female inductees. This year I am being inducted in Pacifica Sports Hall of Fame February 27th for my accomplishments in pro and amateur boxing. The biggest honor for me has been to speak at the WBC Female Convention because it gives me a feeling of recognition and pride in what I do. Being recognized by the WBC the best federation in the world is an amazing feeling. I also have the most heartfelt honor of young boxers telling me how much they love me for putting on these shows and to keep doing what I do because if I didn’t fewer females would be boxing. That to me makes this all worth it. For the past two years we have given the Beautiful Brawler of the Year awards to 15-year-old Heaven Garcia from Jerry Ortiz Gym and 16-year-old Lupe Gutierrez from Jimenez Boxing Academy. Both of these young ladies won the Gold Medal in Taipei, Taiwan and both fought for the WBC Amateur Belt and won on the last Beautiful Brawlers card. We recognize the future of boxing.

Since you barely break even on your promotions, why do you do it?

I promote these amateur shows because I love female boxing. I believe in every girl who steps that ring at the Beautiful Brawlers show. I match each bout so that the best fight the best. We have a great group of boxers from around the world, who want to be on these shows because of the level of competition. Every year I try to make this show bigger and better than the previous show. Last year was our best show since we had three amateur WBC belts at stake. We are now known on a worldwide level. I do this because I believe that the current top ranked amateurs will help to bring female boxing to the forefront.

Tell me your wish for the future?

My wish for the future is to throw the First Beautiful Brawlers Pro/Am show where I can spotlight Melissa McMorrow, Martha Salazar, Ava Knight, Noemi Bosques, Eliza Olson and a few other boxers who have made this journey beautiful. Since all of these boxers have influenced me, the girls, or the show in one way or another, it’s time they have their time to shine on a Beautiful Brawlers Show.

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