UT Boxing Club finds gym, coach, plans to compete at collegiate level

Grace Robertson

Alejandra Gutiérrez was walking on campus one day when she stumbled upon a noisy room full of sweaty students, punching bags. Before she could think twice, the freshman picked up a pair of boxing gloves and joined in.

“Someone immediately came … (and) tried to see where I was in terms of technique,” said Gutiérrez, now an exercise science and dietetics senior. “I started working out with people there, and I haven’t stopped.”

Four years later, Gutiérrez leads the seven person UT boxing club as the first female and Latinx president.

A sport of intense physical contact might not seem like a place to find community, but the physical and mental challenges of boxing draw people like Guiterrez in and keep them coming back.

“You’re going against nature in a way,” Gutiérrez said. “The way you train, the way you think, the way you eat … above all else your mentality has to be spot-on.”

The club reached a new milestone this spring: finding a gym and a coach at the Buffalo Boxing Club, just off campus on Shelby Lane. The group practices an hour and a half a day, five days a week.

“It’s a huge step for the club,” said business freshman James Park, who started boxing in the fall. “We’re getting a trainer who’s giving us pad time, who’s organizing workouts, and it’s made it a much more fulfilling experience.”

Robert Clemente, who founded Buffalo Boxing Club, was contacted by members of the UT boxing club in the fall about coaching the group.

He said he thinks the UT club will be able to compete in more collegiate competitions one day. For now, a few members of the team will go to a national tournament in Lubbock in July, including Gutiérrez, who competed in her first tournament at Texas A&M last fall.

“All of my effort has gone into this team,” Clemente said. “I think Alejandra (Gutiérrez) can do really well if we go into this tournament.”

When Gutiérrez joined the club as a freshman, she said she didn’t have any experience with boxing. Her family was initially worried about the potential danger of the high contact sport, but she said it now gives her a chance to connect with them.

“My parents see how much work I put in … it’s something they really appreciate.” Gutiérrez said. “When I’m boxing, I put in so much work because … while I’m privileged now I can still feel the amount of work they put in to get me here.”

Gutiérrez, who used to visit Mexico when she was little, said boxing helps her relate to her heritage.

“All of my family is Mexican, so right now my favorite boxer is Canelo Alvarez,” Gutiérrez said. “Even though my family is not very immersed in the sport, I know they’ll follow him, because he represents their country.”

After six months of remote practice, Clemente said being at a physical gym has given the members of the team a chance to grow closer both to the sport and to each other.

“They’re all there sweating and bleeding together,” Clemente said. “They’re building bonds for sure.”