USA Boxing Championships feature nation’s best fighters — including four Utah women

SALT LAKE CITY — Amber Montoya saw the boxing gloves as a message from her late father.

“After my dad died, I went up to his gravesite about a week after his funeral,” the 30-year-old said. “There was a pair of gloves that were left for me on the gravesite. I knew what that meant.”

What it meant, even though she didn’t want to admit it at first, was that her father wanted her to return to the sport that the entire family had embraced.

“I was upset,” she said. “I took the gloves, and I threw them in my car. I went through some other things, but I kept hearing in my spirit that he left those gloves for me.” Almost four years later, she is using those very gloves to pursue a goal she knows he saw in her future when she joins more than 600 of the country’s top boxers in competing in the USA Boxing National Championships this week at the Salt Palace. She is one of four Utah women who will compete in the amateur event that will determine which fighters will represent the U.S. next year.

Montoya, who fights at 178 pounds, won a qualifying tournament in Tennessee to earn a spot in the semifinals on Friday night.

“We always talked about this,” she said of her return to the sport she loved as a youngster when she competed alongside her cousins and under the tutelage of her father and uncles. “I was actually starting to work out, and I’d lost 30 pounds when he was still alive. After he died, I took the rest of the weight off (a total of 75 pounds lost), and I’ve been training with the gloves he left me ever since.”

Those gloves were signed by those who attended his funeral, and they were supposed to be buried with him. Montoya said it doesn’t matter to her what anyone else thinks, she understands the message in her heart every time she looks down at those gloves.

“It pushes me just to know he’s right there with me,” she said. “I knew it was a sign for me personally. …When I was walking up to the ring that first time, I could feel him. Tears fell down, but then I knew I had to focus and go to work.”

The other Utah women competing are Monica Villa, 29, who qualified in both the 106 and 112 divisions; …read more

Source:: Deseret News – Sports News


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