Blanca Gutierrez is well-known in her native Pacifica and beyond as a respected advocate of women’s boxing.
Her Baby Face Boxing gym – which she originally opened to lose weight following a pregnancy – is recognized as the top Bay Area training facility for female fighters.
It has produced veteran world champions like Martha Salazar and Melissa McMorrow and continues to build young rising amateur talent like Tatiana Almaraz and Iris Contreras among others.
Gutierrez has even established a stage for these young women to shine on courtesy of her annual “Beautiful Brawlers” events, which showcase the best amateur fighters from the Bay Area and throughout the world as well.
Through blood, sweat and tears, Gutierrez and her Baby Face family have simply built a community based on love:
“Even though we’re punching each other in the face, we love each other, we accept each other for who we are, and we’ll never change each other. But we always try to bring each other up.”
Now Pacifica will recognize her contributions by welcoming her with open arms into the 2016 City of Pacifica Sports Hall of Fame.
The ceremony is open to the public and will be held on Saturday at the Grosvenor Hotel in South San Francisco. Tickets are $50 per person and must be purchased in advance.
Gutierrez told SFBay that while she’s surprised to be inducted this soon, she is honored to receive such recognition:
“I know I work hard for my sport. But to receive recognition is an incredible feeling, especially with Pacifica because it’s a great sports community. Now they’re recognizing women’s boxing, which is amazing to me.”
Joining her are former Terra Nova High School coaches Gary Johnson and David White and University of Mississippi alumnus Bryan Powers.
While she has built her reputation in the fight game, Gutierrez also contributes her time to other local sports, including track and field at Vallemar Elementary School, where her husband Charlie Hilder serves as head coach.
She is also an avid supporter of Pacifica-based independent wrestling promotion Gold Rush Pro Wrestling and very good friends with senior referee Sparkey Ballard and wrestlers JR Kratos and Thunder Rosa – all of whom have strongly supported Gutierrez and her cause.
Gutierrez acknowledges her peers for their support and said she takes great pride in giving back to her community:
“I’m always at the Terra Nova car shows with my husband and we’re involved in charities out here. So it’s good to get recognition, but I think we’ve been around and I’ve put myself out there all the time, especially with the media.”
In addition to the local talent she works with, Gutierrez has opened her Baby Face Boxing doors to rising professional talent from throughout the United States, such as fan-favorite Noemi “La Rebelde” Bosques of St. Petersburg, Fla.
Bosques – whose nickname means “rebel” in Spanish – told SFBay she acknowledges Gutierrez as the “godmother of boxing” and is very excited to see her friend and fellow boxing sister get inducted into the Pacifica Sports Hall of Fame:
“She’s somebody who I look up to and admire very much, especially because she takes time out from her super busy schedule – not only from work, but from her family – to help these young girls. She has created a family environment for a lot of these girls who would probably be on the streets if it wasn’t for Blanca. So if anybody deserves it, she does and I’m proud of her for it.”
Bosques (10-5-2, 2 KOs) and Gutierrez have been friends since they met each other at the International Women’s Boxing Hall of Fame in July 2014. Though it was a brief meeting, they connected with each other on Facebook and remained in contact since.
They recently trained together this past May after Gutierrez invited Bosques to come down to the Baby Face gym to prepare for her bout with Heather Hardy in Brooklyn that same month.
Bosques said she had an awesome time training in Pacifica and was amazed at the hunger displayed by the young female fighters – which she believes the sport of boxing in general lacks:
“I think we’re tired already of the (Floyd) Mayweathers who have it all already and they’ve been there, done it. But now, we have a new-age breed of young Latin fighters from the west side and I think this is the very beginning of something that’s going to be really special. We’re going to see a lot of champions coming from that way.”
Gutierrez credits that same hunger from young women like Almaraz and Contreras – as well as the fighter lifestyle she has developed from both boxing and kickboxing – as somewhat of a driving force to continue making a difference in women’s boxing:
“Once you’re a fighter, I don’t think you ever want to leave this lifestyle. So you find other ways where you can make it better and that’s what I do and I have fun doing it. So if I didn’t have fun, I probably wouldn’t be doing it.”
Gutierrez has earned many awards for her contributions, including the 2013 Women Boxing Archive Network female advocate award.
Her upcoming hall of fame induction this Saturday further enhances her growing legacy in the fight game – one Bosques believes will garner even further recognition and result in more opportunities being presented to young women:
“People are going to hear her name and they’re going to recognize it. She’s being awarded for what she’s doing and people are going to seek her a little bit more I think because not only is she doing it, now she’s getting recognized on top of it. Once that happens, there’s going to be a whole lot more opportunities I think that girls are going to notice for themselves.”
The sacrifices Gutierrez has made both personally and professionally over the years may also garner her recognition as a real-life wonder woman.
Bosques knows about such sacrifices firsthand after spending a week living at Gutierrez’ house during training camp for the Heather Hardy fight:
“She is a wonder woman not just in Pacifica, not just in the U.S., but in general. People don’t understand what it takes to juggle the things that she does. She’s a married woman with two kids and her two kids are not just relaxing at home all day. Her two kids are involved in sports and they’re great in their sports … So that says a lot about the person that she is at home with them on top of the person that she is with everyone else on the streets. It’s the influence that she’s given off, it’s a vibe and it’s contagious even in her own family.”
Though it’s Gutierrez who will be inducted into the hall of fame on Saturday, she fully acknowledges the love and support she’s received from those closest to her both inside and outside the ring – as everything they achieved in recent years they did together as a family:
“I never did this on my own. I always had the support of a great husband who let’s me do what I want to do because if he wasn’t with me, I couldn’t do this. So yeah, I feel like a wonder woman in one way. But in the other way, I’ve had the greatest team possible like Team Salazar, Team McMorrow, Team Beautiful Brawlers, Team Lupe Gutierrez – all these teams that are all put together in one. It’s very satisfying, but I have a lot of help.”