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Boxing Insider Fight Night — Christina Cruz had long, adventurous path in amateurs

Forty-year-old Christina Cruz, fighting in the main event against Nancy Franco on August 10 at Sony Hall, has gotten to a late start in the pro ranks. Maybe part of the reason is that she got a late start in boxing, period.

Cruz did not start competing until the age of 22, but within one year of putting on gloves for the first time, she won herself a national title.

Six more national titles followed.

Anyone who follows amateur boxing in the New York City area is very familiar with Cruz’s story. She won ten New York Golden Gloves titles, which shattered Mark Breland’s record of five. So dominant was she in that competition; so fearsome was her reputation, that potential opponents would try to avoid the weight division she was registered in.

That kind of practice would result in little or no action in these tournaments. So what Cruz was register for entry in the 112, 119 and 125-pound divisions, and to make her decision right before the tournament as to which division she’d actually fight in. That way she wouldn’t encounter an empty field.

The circumstances surrounding her tenth and final title in the NYGG’s provided an adventure, at the very least. She had been at the Olympic training center at Colorado Springs, and had to get back to New York to compete in the finals. However, she had to deal with a blizzard, which sidelined a taxi she was riding in. When she was finally “rescued” by passing motorists and got to the Denver airport, the available flights were canceled. By the time she was able to get out, she did not arrive until the morning before her bout.

It didn’t matter. She won anyway.

Cruz actually has felt that the amateur ranks were “more like business” than the pros. And for some boxers, it can be more lucrative, in a sense. USA Boxing allows for expense money and sponsorships for competitors who are in the national program, and there are stipends for those who are of “elite” status. This can sometimes be a better deal than the pros get when they are starting out.

Politics sometimes don’t work to a boxer’s benefit either. Cruz went to the 2018 World Championships and lost a decision to an Indian named Manisha Maun, who was a hometown boxer insofar as the bout was being held in New Delhi. So she’s had to settle for two bronze medals on his mantle.

Making it onto the 2020 Puerto Rican Olympian team after missing out on a spot with the U.S. squad was a boost, but there wasn’t an Olympiad to compete in that year, because of the pandemic.

Ultimately, there weren’t many more mountains to climb.

We wouldn’t want to infer that Cruz’s life is incomplete without a venture through the professional ranks. She’s got a lot going on for herself; she is a graduate of DeVry University with a degree in computer science. She is licensed in real estate, and she has found her entrepreneurial stride as the founder of the Elite Lifestyle Academy, where she is a health and fitness coach.

But she simply loves the sport. And she’ll love it even more if she can box her way to a world title.

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