Successful 2009 U.S. Championships in Denver*

June 14, 2009, 12:02 p.m. (ET)
Eleven elite boxers (ages 17-34) claimed national championship titles last night at the 2009 U.S. Championships held in Denver, Colorado:
Laura Ramirez (101, NY), Marlen Esparza (106, TX), Seniesa Estrada (112, CA),  Sacred Downing (119, NJ), Melissa Roberts (125, NY), Patricia Manuel (132, CA), Queen Underwood (141, WA), Andrecia Wasson (152, MI), Alyssa Defanzio (165, AZ), Chatiqua Hemingway (178, NC), Traynora Locke (178+, KY).

Eight juniors (ages 15-16) boxed in Thursday's finals to claim national titles:
Maria Arrelola (101, TX), Angelica Sanchez (106, NM), Kimberlly Nolasco (114, CA), Natalie Salas (119, CA), Flora Yanes (125, CA), Asia Stevenson (132, DC), Katherine Keler (138, TX), and Alexandria Valdez (145, UT).

There were many close matches throughout the tournament, and lots of opportunities for boxers to showcase their skills.

But we all know that there is more to Olympic-style boxing than wins and losses.  It takes incredible courage to train in Olympic-style boxing, and climb through the ropes for competition, and it comes as no surprise that every boxer at this level has her own story of triumph, perseverance, fortitude.  That every boxer has proven that she can dedicate herself and challenge herself comes as no surprise to the volunteers and fans who witnessed this week's boxing matches, from the preliminaries to the finals.

This year's tournament included four athletes who competed in their last U.S. Championship:  Lisa Kuronya (Maine), Althea Saunders (New Jersey), Sonya Lamonakis (NYC), and Qurdisha Gilliam (GA) lose their amateur eligibility this year due to age.  Congratulations to these boxers, and their coaches, for the fortitude to box up until the age of 35.

This year marked the return of Melissa Roberts (125, NY), who took two years away from the sport to nurse her newborn back to health.  Melissa picked right back up where she left off by winning her third U.S. title, and taking home the officials' award for Most Outstanding Boxer of the tournament.

Several boxers moved up to the Elite level from the J.O. ranks, including:  Angel Hamby (119, FL), Tanayris Negron (125, FL), Marisa Aldana (119, KS), Samantha Martinez (119, TX).  Three such boxers, Seniesa Estrado (112, CA), Alyssa Defanzio (165, AZ), and Traynora Locke (178+, KY), also took home 2009 title belts.

For many boxers, 2009 is their first entry into the US Championships.  First timers Laura Ramirez (101, NY), Rita Martinez (106, NM), and Tiara Brown (119, GA) also earned their way into the finals.

And this year saw the start of changes in weight categories in anticipation of the IOC's Olympic decision coming in August or October.  For example, Cynthia Moreno (112, AZ, silver medal) was last year's champion at 119, and won a bronze medal at the 2008 AIBA World Championships.  Sacred Downing (NJ) moved up to 119, after years of success at 114, and this week's win brings her total belt count to six U.S. Championship titles.

Overall, it was a successful tournament.  Congratulations to all the boxers competing this week.

The remaining 2009 ranking national tournaments for female boxers are the National Golden Gloves (July 8-11 in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida**) and National PAL (October 19-24 in San Antonio***).

* Full results of the 2009 US Championships can be found on the USAB website at
**Information on the 2009 Women's National Golden Gloves can be found at
*** Information on the 2009 National PAL Championships can be found at
**** Information regarding ranking points can be found on the USAB website at