WHITTIER, CA. – In spite of the popularity of Laila Ali and Christy “Coalminer’s Daughter” Martin, who almost became a “Million Dollar Baby,” women’s boxing in the United States hasn’t caught on fire. Hoping to change that is Seniesa Estrada.
“Promoters don’t give them the opportunity to be on the big stage and let them be seen by many people,” explained boxing sensation from East Los Angeles, Seniesa Estrada (5-0, 1KO) when I interviewed her last week at Sergio Mora’s Gym in Whittier, California. “That’s one reason. I also think the skill level is nowhere near the men.”
Watching Estrada ply her craft in the gym I got a distinct feeling that her skill level is not a problem.
Observing Estrada hit a heavy bag I could tell that she has been doing it all her life. Twenty three years old the professional prizefighter started boxing at the age of eight.
“I used to watch boxing fights with my dad when I was little,” reminisced Estrada. “He was showing me all the great fighters like Sugar Ray Leonard and Roberto Duran who is his favorite… I just grew up watching that.”
Of course her father, Joe Estrada didn’t want her little girl boxing.
“Boxing was definitely out of the question,” recalled Seniesa. “I begged him for like six months and he finally took me out to a gym. I started at Hollenbeck Youth Center in Boyle Heights and kept going from there.”
Decorated as an amateur, Estrada was on track to join first ever female boxing Olympic team.
“I skipped the Olympics because I had an injury on my foot,” Estrada said. “I don’t regret it. People have asked me that question before, but I always knew that God had a plan for me and no matter what I am always going to follow my dreams.”
A majority of little girls dream about becoming princesses or Cinderella’s, Estrada is not one of them.
“My dream in boxing is to transcend the sport,” she said, “to be Ronda Rousey of boxing. What she did for the sport is above and beyond and that’s exactly what I want to do.”
The five year veteran of professional boxing only has five professional fights under her belt. Injuries put Seniesa on sidelines for over two years. But it wasn’t just injuries. “It was kind of difficult at first to get the exposure and get noticed by promoters and find opponents, but now I have that all down on track.”
Last year Estrada burst on the conscience of boxing fans when she was featured at the Fabulous Forum in Inglewood, California on the undercard of middleweight champion, Gennady Golovkin. Seniesa dominated Carly Batey and demonstrated her impressive boxing skills to the world. She also caught the eye of ring great, Roy Jones Jr.
“Being able to be recognized by Roy Jones and have him give me such a high praise; it’s just amazing,” said Estrada. “Because I looked up to him so much growing up I would try to mimic his style all the time. I still do.”
I guess Estrada’s talent was also recognized by team GGG. She was called to make an encore appearance on April 23rd, 2016 on the undercard of Golovkin’s middleweight title defense against undefeated Domenic Wade. Estrada is scheduled to face a veteran from Mexico, Selene Lopez (3-4-3).
“Not many women have an opportunity to fight on such a big card even once,” said the excited Estrada. “I am grateful to have an opportunity to do it two times in less than a year, that’s great!”
I’ve been keeping an eye out on Estrada for the past seven or eight years, since her amateur days. She possesses one undeniable star quality, a supreme confidence. Her confidence is based on two things; her belief in her skill set and talent and love and support of her father Joe Estrada. But even all of that is not enough to transcend the sport. Just ask her friend and fellow amateur stand out boxer, Angel Bojado. These two were seen attending fights together. Angel is the younger brother of Francisco “Panchito” Bojado who went to the Olympics for Mexico. He was a handsome boy with great skills and living in East Los Angeles, Bojado was pronounced by many the next Golden Boy. Panchito faded away into the sunset like so many talented kids that did not have the drive and total dedication.
Does Seniesa have what it takes to become a star? We will have to wait and see to find out. I encourage you to buy a ticket and head to the Forum on April 23rd, 2016 and check out Seniesa Estrada live.
“I think what makes me stand out,’ said Estrada, “Is because people actually want to see me fight. They see that I have skills once they see me in the ring. I don’t want to be known as just a good woman boxer. I want to be known as a good fighter in general, being able to compare me to the men, not just women.”
Contact Igor Frank via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter (Fightmonger).
Photo of Seniesa Estrada by Anna Dragost.