Mother, daughter boxers in West Texas battle for victories

-A A +A
By Associated Press

EL PASO, Texas — The sacrifice is impossible to measure as the hours pile upon hours, the sweat fills bucket after bucket and even a bit of blood and possibly a tear or two accumulate in the hard knock, unforgiving journey that is boxing.

But both the pain and the joy are best when shared. And no one can share it like daughter and mother and grandmother. The sport has slowly, gradually built an indelible bond between three generations.

The El Paso Times reports Kayla Gomez is but 14 years old, just an eighth-grade student at Bel Air Middle School. But she is already a five year veteran of the demanding sport of boxing and she has already won six national championships and earned a spot on the U.S. National Team. She dreams of going to the Olympics and then going pro.

Crystal Aceves is 32 and is also a five year veteran of the sport ... bringing her daughter Kayla with her when they decided to get serious about boxing. And no sport demands that you be serious more than the sweet science. Aceves has competed in three national tournaments and has two-second place finishes and one-third place.

Cindy Aceves is mother and grandmother and coach and travel partner and confidant for the two in their fistic quest.

“I had boxed a little a while back but I didn’t take it seriously,” Crystal Aceves said. “I decided to take it up again and take it seriously and I brought Kayla with me.”

Gomez said, “I had seen a video on (U.S. Olympian) Marlen Esparza and I was interested.”

Crystal said, “I wasn’t too sure she would like it. But she took to it right away. She was a natural. The coaches were talking about how good she was after just a week.”

Next up for Crystal will be the Texas State Golden Gloves Championships Feb. 28-March 3 in Fort Worth. The women’s Open Class is for ages 18-40 so Kayla is too young for this tournament.

No matter.

She and Cindy will go straight to Albuquerque, New Mexico, for the USA Boxing Western Qualifier. Mom will fly straight from Fort Worth to Albuquerque, without even a day of rest in between.

“Crystal has an excellent chance to win a state Golden Gloves championship,” said Ladislao Vicencio, the local director of the Golden Gloves and himself a three-time Golden Gloves state champion in the 1970s.

There will be no time for rest or recuperation. That, though, is the nature of this rough and tumble journey.

“They train for hours and hours every day,” Cindy Aceves said. “At first, I was just bringing them water and encouraging them. I’d done some karate and kickboxing. But another coach encouraged me to get my coaching license. So I did and now, here I am.

“I’m so proud of them,” grandma said. “It’s just awesome to see them compete at this level.”

The mother-daughter duo goes through the same intense practice sessions, the same fitness and strength training.

“We spend between four and five hours a day training,” Crystal Aceves said. “We train and spar at Wolves Den from six until nine each night. Then we go to Planet Fitness for our cardio work.”

Kayla Gomez smiled and said, “We do most of our running on weekends and when school is out. We’ll run McKelligan Canyon or Rim Road. We also hike a lot. That’s what we enjoy doing. We get in a workout while having fun, too.”

Mom smiled at her daughter and said, “Sometimes I forget she’s just a little girl. She works out as hard as I do. Once we were running and she kept pushing because there were some teenage boys running in front of us and she didn’t want them to beat us. She’s very competitive.

“This takes a lot of sacrifice,” Crystal added. “Family and friends. They have to understand what we are doing and understand that we have to train and this is pretty much year-round.”

Vicencio said, “I remember when Kayla first started. She was so small. But there she was at the Carolina Center, getting ready for her first fight. She was working on her footwork all afternoon. Then, that night, I was walking at Album Park and there she was, out running with her grandmother, getting ready for that fight.

“It is amazing their work ethic,” Vicencio said of mother and daughter. “Kayla is going to be something to be reckoned with; she has that fighting spirit. She and her mother work out every day and every day is a championship workout. They are both forces to be reckoned with.”