HANFORD — One wouldn’t have to have met 13-year-old boxer Lexus Ramirez to confidently point her out at the Hanford Police Activities League (PAL) training facility.
Lexus, a John F. Kennedy Kennedy Jr. High student, is the one noticeably working a little harder than the rest of the almost 40 teens training at the facility.
“She’s dedicated, she trains every day,” Flavio Perz, Ramirez’ coach and uncle, said. “And she’s getting stronger. She hits pretty hard.”
Ramirez, who began boxing at 8 and will turn 14 later this month, won the National Silver Globes in her age/weight class (95 pounds) in Kansas City, Missouri, at the end of January. Scheduled to fight twice during the tournament, she won one fight in the ring and the other by DQ when her opponent failed to make weight.
Ramirez, a fighter of more punches than words, said she liked the experience because of the plane ride to the Midwest.
She is scheduled to fight Saturday at PAL’s Central Valley Championships at Sierra Pacific High School, where young fighters from all over the state will come to compete.
Leading into a fight, Ramirez trains at least two hours a day, five days a week. That training includes two sparring sessions a week, as well as morning runs almost every day, which pay off dividends as Ramirez said her biggest strength in the ring is her conditioning.
She is scheduled to fight for the Golden Gloves in Reno this summer and her ultimate goal is to get to the Olympics.
Ramirez said she looks up to fellow fighters Manny Pacquiao and former UFC champion Ronda Rousey. When asked if she watched Rousey's Wrestlemania debut Sunday, she just grinned bashfully.
Father and coach Alvaro Ramirez said he has seen an influx of girls wanting to train in the years since Rousey became a household name and the UFC’s women’s division became popular.
“The girls have a lot of heart and then I see some of the boys and they barely want to do it,” Alvaro joked.
The gym has about 5 females training right now, with two licensed to fight — Ramirez and Larissa Cuadros.
Warm ups at the gym aren’t divided up by gender. Everyone works out together. And despite being the first, and for a while only, female boxer, Ramirez was never intimidated, her mother, Yaneth, said.
“She has never been afraid. She spars with anyone. I don’t think she’s ever turned down a sparring partner. We’ve had boys quit on her [mid-spar],” Yaneth said.
PAL, a nonprofit organization, began operating in Hanford in 2016 and, according to Perz, caters mainly to children in low-income families that can’t afford to play soccer, football or baseball. Perz’s high school-aged sons play baseball and compete as amateur wrestlers, both activities put a strain on the wallet, he said.
“I’m glad we’re still here helping the kids stay out of trouble. Not just [Lexus], but all of them,” the former boxer and trainer of 20 years, said.
Enrolling in the PAL program is $40 and the rest is free, as long as they show up to train.
Prez said that outside of the obvious physical benefits, boxing comes with long-lasting personality benefits, as well.
“The kids learn confidence and how to respect others,” he said.