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HomeNewsBoxer Briones wins in Hanford and vows to keep fighting

Boxer Briones wins in Hanford and vows to keep fighting

Carolina Briones took up boxing gloves a year ago, and now she has a win and a trophy to show for her dedication.

The 15-year-old beat Penelope Salazar in a March 16 rematch of a fight from September 2018 in which the situation was reversed. Briones had lost. The latest fight was held at Hanford High.

This time Briones said she made sure she was ready.

“For two weeks I would be in the ring fighting with people here,” she said last week at the Sanger Youth Center boxing gym on Eighth and L streets where she trains daily. She said she would go six rounds, each with a different opponent. “I even fought my brother Marco.”

Briones is a member of the Sanger Boxing Club, which has grown significantly in the past year. Fellow boxer Alyssa Samorano, 11, won a belt earlier this year and is expected to be defending it next month.

Mario Irazoqui, longtime coach, gathered most of the girls training March 18 at practice for an announcement to recognize Briones’ accomplishment. “She fought a girl and brought the trophy back home, so give her a hand,” he said.

They did.

Briones credited her success with training. Hard. She said her coach Ernesto Betancourt would practice with her, holding mitts she could punch, “nonstop.”

“And for two weeks, I wouldn’t eat any junk food,” she said. “Not even a piece of candy. Not even hot Cheetos, my favorite.”

Not even a Kit Kat bar.

Briones said she trained up to three hours a day. “I had to drop 5 pounds,” she said. “I’d run miles. Literally, the only thing on my mind was the trophy.” She repeated the mantra “I have to win, I have to win” to herself over and over.

The day of the fight came. Salazar is taller and has a longer reach. They competed in 150-pound weight class.

“She was nervous at the fight,” Betancourt said. “Asking, questioning all the time about what to do. I told her she would be fine.”

Briones got a fat lip, but she out-pointed her opponent. “Good punches to the body and then to the head,” Betancourt said.

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