Fresh Faces: Adelaida Ruiz
By Felipe Leon
If there is one thing about boxing, it’s the stories. More than any sport, the stories of fighters, their struggle, and their ups and down, is probably the most compelling aspect of the sport. Los Angeles’ bantamweight Adelaida “La Cobra” Ruiz (3-0) is not without her own story.
One of 11 siblings, the 29-year-old mother of three came back to boxing after nearly a 10-year hiatus. After going pro in April of last year, she has strung together three solid wins while becoming one of the more popular female fighters of the city.
“My two older brothers boxed,” Ruiz says of her beginnings in the sport. “As soon as they hit 18, they stopped. My little sister ended up having high cholesterol at a young age so my mom and my dad decided she needed to start going to the gym. I ended up going to the gym before my brothers stopped.”
Her sister stopped in her teenage years but Ruiz, who began to train at the age of 11, kept with it.
“I can’t really tell, a lot of people have asked me that question,” Adelaida said when asked what made her stay in the gym after her brothers and sister stopped. “I think it is something I can’t explain. I don’t know if it is the attention of when I am in the ring or… I have no idea; it is something I just love to do.”
Ruiz’s amateur career wasn’t too extensive, only 39 fights with 36 wins against only 3 losses. Despite losing her first fight ever, she found the formula that kept her in the gym. “It was exciting, nerve racking, I lost my first amateur fight. I think that encouraged me to train harder. I love challenges. Boxing is a challenge for me. I learn things at the gym every day. That is my goal. I have been in boxing for so long that when I go to the gym I want to learn something new. I try to learn a new thing.”
After wins in various tournaments in the amateurs Ruiz had to put her boxing career in the back burner after becoming pregnant and giving birth to a baby boy, the oldest of her three children.
“I have two boys, one girl,” the proud mother said. “My oldest son is 11, my daughter is nine and my youngest son is seven. My daughter looks up to me, she wants to be just like me. Not in the boxing world, she doesn’t like boxing but she wants to be like me, she tells me I am a very strong person. I’m not scared. The oldest doesn’t care for it, he loves going to my fights and watching my fight but the youngest boxes himself. He is going to debut when he turns eight next month. He looks up to me but he wants to be better than me, that is what he tells me. My oldest is more into soccer.”
After a nearly 10-year long break, Ruiz came back in 2016 to the gym.
“It was really hard, really difficult,” she said of coming back. “Like I said I like challenges. I wanted to come back after my second child but I got pregnant right after so I said once he hits five years old, I am going back to the gym. That was my goal, my mind was set. I was rusty. I feel that I am still a little bit rusty. When I came back I wasn’t as fast as I used to be. It was just about getting back into it; it was the physical, not the mental.”
Like many mothers in gyms right now, Ruiz wanted to get back to her pre-birth shape but with so much experience in the ring, her main motivation was to turn pro. “I left something on the table. My dream back then was to go to the Olympics but back then women weren’t allowed. So my dream was then turning pro. I always had it in the back of my mind was to come back and turn pro. Finish what I had to do.”
She decided to turn pro but didn’t realize she would need more hours in a day to be able to juggle her training, her kids, her job and everything in between but according to her, it suits her just fine.
“I don’t have time in a day to do everything,” she says with a smile. “I actually manage it. A lot of people ask me how do I do it but it is more of a routine. I go based on my timing, I have to wake up at a certain time, if I wake up ten minutes later than my normal time, I am already late. During training camp they stay with family, it varies, but most of the time the kids are at the gym with me.”
With one more amateur fight under her belt, Ruiz turned professional in April of last year with a unanimous decision win over Rebecca Light. The bout was contested in the featherweight division.
“I was so nervous, it was me fighting but mentally I was nervous, I wasn’t thinking,” Ruiz said her first fight without the headgear and smaller gloves. “I loved the gloves, they were so small, l loved them.”
She had her toughest fight to date in her second one when she faced the much bigger Haley Pasion in September, also taking a unanimous decision in a four rounder this time at bantamweight.
“She is a tough fighter, she just kept coming and kept coming,” Ruiz said of Pasion who outweighed her by five pounds at the official weigh in and much more the night of the fight. “It wasn’t an easier fight, the rust was off, I think I was a little bit faster, I was thinking quicker on my moves but she was definitely a tougher fight for me.”
She closed out the year in November with another unanimous decision this time over Dalia Gomez. Ruiz began to notice a difference in the way she felt in now her third professional fight. “I felt good, very confident, I was calm. I knew it was going to be a tough fight. I had seen one of her fights on YouTube; my coach told me it was going to be a tough fight, different from the first two. We were pretty confident that with my experience we could actually win and that is what we went for.”
“I used to think I was a fighter,” she says when asked to describe her style. “My coach tells me I am more of a boxer and he would like for me to be more of a boxer but I think I can do both. I think I can be a fighter and a boxer at the same time. I would just fight, that was my style back when I was an amateur, and I used to just go for it. I wouldn’t think and just fight, fight, fight. I used to stop girls in the first or second round that was me. Now it is different, it is more about how my opponent is so now I just mix it up a little.”
“La Cobra” plans to campaign from now on in the bantamweight division but if she can twist her coach’s arm, might try to make a run at 115 pounds.
“I really want to go down to 115,” she explained. “More likely we are going to stay at 117, 118. I want the opportunity to fight for two world titles. I want to be called the two-time world champion ‘La Cobra” Ruiz, I want to do the 115 and 118 titles but I have to talk to my coach about going down to 115. He wants me to stay at 118.”
As far as for 2018, Ruiz is ready to let somebody handle her career.
“The goal is to do two more fights and then get a contract, I want to get signed by somebody,” Ruiz said. “I’ve seen De La Hoya (Golden Boy Promotions) is signing girls now so that is what I want for 2018 and in early 2019 I want to go for a world championship.”
(Photo by Al Applerose)