When Lizbeth Garcia and her sisters moved to Cheyenne in July after graduating from Rawlins High School, their intention was to attend Laramie County Community College.
While her sisters continued with their schooling, Garcia had different plans. She decided to put her focus toward her boxing career and continuing to improve her craft with the Southside Sluggers boxing club.
“I wanted to try and push myself more over here,” she said. “For now, I just decided to stick with working and boxing.”
Garcia’s commitment is built around defending her No. 1 USA Boxing ranking. She won the youth 101-pound title during the USA Boxing National Championships in March. However, after turning 18 years old in May, Garcia will now compete in the 106-pound elite female division, where she’s on the hunt for another title.
Her quest to remain on top starts Wednesday in Shreveport, Louisiana, in the next edition of the national tournament.
Since training with the Sluggers, there’s been an emphasis on using a slightly different approach in the ring, Sluggers coach Isaiah Tafoya said.
“There are a lot of technical things we’ve tried to change as far as using her jab a lot more, hitting and not getting hit, and being a little smarter in the ring,” Tafoya said. “(We’re working) on using her intelligence more than her strength and toughness … just boxing smart.”
Boxing with a bigger club has been another difference for Garcia. In Rawlins, her sisters were trained by her dad, and there often wouldn’t be many others in the gym. That change in atmosphere has been a beneficial thing, Garcia said. It’s helped push her to want to become better.
“When I was training at home, it was mostly just me and my siblings. We didn’t really train with anybody else,” she said. “It’s definitely a different atmosphere, and I feel more motivated because more people are watching, and there are more people around.”
More boxers means more coaches and more knowledge to soak in. The different insight and multiple views that each coach from the club brings has helped Garcia develop overall, not just in certain areas.
She’s been introduced to different methods to help her improve her tools, she said.
“Every coach is different, every coach has a different technique they want you to work with,” Garcia said. “For example, (coach Ray Montoya) helps me with my head movement, and (Tafoya) helps me with my technique and speed. I’m able to get help with everything and do some things that I haven’t always done. I learn different things every day.”
While the knowledge builds, so does the confidence.
“She gets the knowledge of all of us being here,” Montoya said. “She works with everybody, and she’s building her confidence, and she keeps learning more and more.”
Although Garcia is bumping up in divisions and could face older and more experienced boxers, she isn’t fazed by the potential step up in competition.
Growing up and training as triplets helped Garcia become a better boxer, she said. She’s been tested both physically and mentally, but still remains steady. It’s one of her biggest strengths.
“She’s mentally tough, she doesn’t let things waver her too much, she’s pretty determined,” Tafoya said. “She knows what the elite division brings with it, and she’s prepared for it, physically and mentally.”