SALT LAKE CITY — The imprint of her headgear still visible on her sweat-drenched face, Stephanie Mendoza grinned at the realization that she was one step closer to making a dream deferred her reality.

Stephanie Mendoza’s love affair with boxing began when she was in high school.

“I started way back in high school,” the 31-year-old Salt Lake fighter said, after earning a Rocky Mountain Regional Championship with a three-round win over Montana’s Darby Hamon Saturday at the Golden Gloves Tournament at the Salt Palace. “I had a friend who did it, and it just sounded fun. So I tried it for a workout, and I just fell in love with it.”

But, after her son was born 11 years ago, Mendoza’s priorities shifted, and providing for him became her primary focus.

She graduated from the University of Utah and began working as a rehab aide, focusing her energy on her young son. But that nagging feeling that she might have accomplished something special in the boxing ring finally forced her to return to the sport in earnest three years ago.

“Boxing just challenged me in a way I’ve never been challenged,” Mendoza said. “Mentally and physically — you’re always having to change things and having to push yourself. It never stops being challenging, and that’s really exciting.”

Mendoza didn’t know Hamon, who landed a lot of jabs to Mendoza’s face. But Mendoza landed a lot more shots of all kinds, and that gave her the edge in the bout.

“I’d never fought her before, so that was kind of fun,” said Mendoza, who sustained a cut near her eye that began swelling in the minutes after her fight ended. “I don’t want to have any regrets. I want to take this as far as I could, while I could, and I’m just having fun doing it.”

She said she hopes to continue competing in national tournaments and eventually hear a spot on the U.S. national team.

“I’d like to try and get a spot in the next five years,” she said. “And then I’ll probably coach or something like that.”

The only certainty is that boxing will remain a key part of her life.

“Boxing is my family.”

She is thrilled that Golden Gloves now includes women, and she said the sport is growing quickly among women.

“It’s challenging, and I feel like you go through a lot of trials together, as you’re traveling together,” she said. “We’re kind of helping motivate …read more

Source:: Deseret News – Sports News

      

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Utah mom advances to Golden Gloves Nationals with win over Montana boxer on Saturday

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