Catching up with Gabriela Fundora and Citlalli Ortiz

April 10, 2018, 2:38 p.m. (ET)

Recently announced, USA Boxing and Under Armour Junior and Youth Female Boxers of the Year for 2017, Gabriela Fundora and Citlalli Ortiz, both hail from Coachella, Calif. and recently completed their first High Performance Training Camp together. Both had a year they will not forget, with Fundora sweeping all four USA Boxing National tournaments and Ortiz winning gold at the Youth World Championships in India.


USA Boxing caught up with the duo right before departing from their two-weeks in Colorado Springs, Colo.


Citlalli, you are at your first training camp since winning your World title. Did you feel any pressure of having to become a leader? Have any of the girls come up to you and ask for any advice or anything of that nature?

Citlalli - Actually it caught me by surprise. I wasn't expecting to be in camp as a leader or be seen as one by my teammates. But if Coach Billy sees that potential in me or considers me as a leader, I am very grateful for that and whatever I can do to help my teammates and USA Boxing in general, I will do my best. So far none of my teammates have approached me for advice or anything like that and I hope if they ever do I have the right words to say. I get nervous just thinking about it. I am not used to giving advice. Sometimes I feel like I have a lot to say and I end up not saying much or after I give advice, I go back and say, I forgot to mention this and that and I end up getting mad at myself.

Going back to India, what was it like winning that world title?

Citlalli - India brings back wonderful memories. Sometimes I still can’t believe it when someone says to me, you are Citlalli, the World Champion. I have seen my fights in India many times and I could have done much better technically, but my mind was not 100% focused on my opponent, .I had a lot going on in my mind at that moment, for example: wanting to do what my corner was asking me to do, what my Dad/Coach said I should do, knowing I was the last hope of Team USA to bring gold, and finally trying to figure out a style of boxing that I had never seen before, plus she was very strong. All of that was on my mind and I am glad I still did just enough to win that gold medal. For the first time in my boxing career, I was not sure of the result. I knew I didn't fight smart enough, I was taking too long to throw my punches, I was not cutting off the ring the way I know how so I was scared and very nervous. Then I heard the ring announcer say "in the red corner, representing USA" I could not stop crying of happiness, it was an amazing feeling winning gold for USA.

What are you doing to keep yourself calm and not fall under pressure with the opportunity to win another world title later this year?

Citlalli - I am sure that I will not be as nervous as I was in India. It’s like the first time I went to Nationals in Reno, I was terrified and then the second time in Kansas, I was a lot more relaxed. But the thing that keeps me calm and not pressured is knowing I trained really hard and I am in great condition to fight 3 rounds nonstop. Doing that and feeling confident in my boxing abilities is the best way to guarantee a good performance inside the ring that convinces the judges to raise my hand in victory one more time. I know I am a target now. I am the girl to beat next time around and I will not make it easy for any one, that's for sure.

Gabby, this is your first time at the Olympic Training Center. How have these two weeks been different from training back home in Coachella?

Gabby - There are many different training techniques from the things back at home. At the Olympic Training Center one thing that is different is technical sparring. This has given me a new perspective on how Olympic boxing is going to be.

What has been the hardest part of camp for you?

Gabby - The hardest part of camp would most likely be when we had to do the incline on Saturday. After a couple of steps, my legs were killing me. The steps felt like they kept going on forever. Once I made it to the top, I felt so relieved.

Before coming, did you ask Citlalli for any advice? If so, what did she tell you?

Gabby - I asked C about the altitude in Colorado. She did tell me that the breathing would be very different and it was true. The very first day of training I got a cramp in my leg.

What is it like having your teammate here during these two weeks?

Citlalli - Having Gabby at the OTC is something I knew was going to happen someday because of her potential, and I am glad we can share memories outside of our hometown and gym. I see she is having a great experience. All of us made sure she had a nice birthday, it was so nice. She is making new friends and even though we don't have a chance to spend a lot of time here, we know we have each others back all the time.

Gabby - I think it’s really great to have my teammate here with me. Citlalli showed me around and told me a lot about the OTC. I knew that if I got lost or had trouble with anything I could ask her for help.

You both just were announced Boxers of the Year for your respective divisions. What do you think that shows about your gym and who the two of you are as boxers?

Citlalli - Yes, having two female boxers from the same gym earning the award: “Boxers of the Year for 2017,” is very unlikely, but I am happy that it happened to us. This shows that our gym, the Lee Espinoza Coachella Boxing Club, is doing something right. Lee Espinoza has given us his trust and support and we repay him with bringing back the results he expects from us. So far we haven't disappointed him. Our gym is beautiful, clean, has the right equipment and it’s free thanks to our sponsors and the city of Coachella. As boxers we have something very important in common - Gabby’s father is her coach and my father is my coach. They both have a lot in common. They are strict, demanding and very family oriented. They care for us like no one else and I believe that is what has gotten us this far.

Gabby - I think it shows that we are very motivated and determined on our goals. We stay focused on one thing and that is to win. As for our gym, it shows that there’s no time to mess around. We stay on the path of building champions.

If you could describe each others boxing styles or abilities in three words, what would those three be?

Citlalli -Intelligent, tactical, powerful

Gabby- Pressure-fighter, observant, consistent

Overall, how have these two weeks been for the two of you? You have had the opportunity to be around 22 other great junior and youth female boxers, as well as two-time Olympic Champion Claressa Shields and 2016 Olympian Mikaela Mayer. What has that been like?

Citlalli - I have enjoyed this camp more than the previous ones. We have done more team activities outside of the OTC and I feel great having this opportunity to meet new teammates. I had the chance to do two rounds of sparring with Mikaela, and I feel I did well against such a great boxer. There are two girls in my weight division that are very tough also and sparring with them is something I enjoy a lot because it's very important for training and improving each day.

Gabby- These two weeks have been a great learning experience. Some of the new things I learned I will for sure do back at home. It’s always great to have an open mind. During these past two weeks, I’ve made some great friends. It’s been amazing to work alongside these girls. Everyone has been very positive and helping each other out. It’s been a great pleasure to have Claressa Shields and Mikaela Mayer at the OTC with us.