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Santa Maria Sun / Sports Lead

The following article was posted on March 17th, 2015, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 16, Issue 2 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [santamariasun.com] - Volume 16, Issue 2

Meet Maggie Suarez: mom, full-time childcare worker, professional boxer

By SEAN MCNULTY

Maggie Suarez didn’t plan on becoming a professional boxer when she signed up her 8-year-old son to work out at a local gym. After watching him for six months, though, her interested was piqued.

“I started going to lose weight,” she said. “I got into sparring. After nine months I did my first amateur fight. I won, I continued to win, and I decided to go professional.”

That pithy summary of her career leaves out quite a bit. Between raising two children, completing a master’s degree in early childhood development, and attending mass at St. Mary’s every Sunday, Suarez found time to put up nine wins and one draw as a professional fighter. She’s flying to Maryland over the weekend of March 20 to square off against flyweight “Lady Tyga” Tyreesha Douglas. Suarez admitted that the nerves are beginning to kick in.


BAD MAMMA JAMMA
Maggie Suarez, mother of two children and full-time child care worker, is a professional boxer in her spare time. She next heads to Maryland to spar against flyweight “Lady Tyga.”
PHOTO COURTESY OF TONY OJEDA

“She’s 8-0,” Suarez explained. “She’s a softball; she’s a lefty; [I’ve] been practicing lefty sparring. The nerves are kicking in because I’m the biggest challenge that she’s faced so far. She’s fought a lot of girls with minimal experience, and I’m the biggest challenge that she’s faced 
so far.”

Suarez, on the other hand, has faced many challenges. Her father died when she was 7, and she moved to Santa Maria with a family member in the early 1990s. Suarez looks back on that time ruefully.

“I was such an angry child when my dad passed away,” she said. “God created a lot of situations that we had to work through as a family. I was a rebellious teenager, not very caring about the situations that we had to do as a family.”

At 15 years old, while attending Santa Maria High, she became pregnant with her son. In return, she drew withering looks and lowered expectations from her fellow classmates.

 “Everybody assumed that because I had a child at a young age I wasn’t going to be motivated in life, and I wasn’t going to advance myself in any way,” she explained. “That wasn’t the case for me, and that wasn’t the case for a lot of girls.”

Maggie married her son’s father, who works as a mechanic on heavy machinery and they had another child eight years later—a girl. After high school, she worked part time at China Wok and chased an associate’s degree in childhood development at Allan Hancock College, where she landed another part-time job in the child care center. After graduating, she picked up a bachelor’s in childhood development from University of La Verne and a master’s from Brandman University. Now, while raising her two kids, she works full time in the preschool at the Community Action Commission.

Suarez is also involved with St. Mary’s Church, where she rediscovered her Catholic background after taking her son in for catechism classes.

“I’m a learning Catholic,” she said. “We attend mass every Sunday and also on Mondays we go to prayer group. I’ve come a long ways. I’ve come a very long ways, and I’m so thankful for the transformation that God has created 
in me.”

A full-time job, three degrees, two children, a religious life, and a professional boxing career—Suarez keeps this bevy of commitments in the air through a massive internal reserve of energy and a to-do list she writes up nightly.

“That’s what’s so incredible about Maggie,” said Willie Flores, her manager. “She can’t stand still. Even when we’re walking she’s always walking a step ahead of me. She has to be in the gym to complete her daily routine. She’s the one who’s in the gym early and leaves late.”

Tony Ojeda, her coach, agrees.

“She is very hyper,” he said. “She can’t keep herself in one place at one time. She’s always moving from one thing to another. Her life is very busy because of this.”

For Suarez, this energy gives her the work ethic necessary to succeed as a boxer. In turn, boxing tires her out and gives her a place to focus her energy.

“Boxing has become like a stress reliever,” she said. “It has held me in place; boxing has given me a lot of patience. It tires me out and slows me down. I’m a very busy lady, and boxing keeps me sane.”

It was Ojeda and Flores who pushed Suarez to go pro after seeing her success as an amateur. Her first fight was in Ontario, in San Bernardino County.

“She fought a girl, she won, and she looked good—she looked like she was in control; she did very well,” Flores said. “Last year, she fought for a world title. I thought she had won the fight but the judges saw it different. She lost a split decision—one judge voted for her, and the other two voted for the other girl.”

Flores and Ojeda helped Suarez move from the frantic punching of amateur boxing to the slower, more careful, and strategic style needed to succeed in the professional world. She boxes cautiously and quickly now, moving on the outside, with a deadly jab.

And while Suarez has grown as a boxer, she has also become close with her coaches.

 “I can say that she’s a very good person, and I think of myself not just as her trainer but as a brother. She is like a part of my family,” 
Ojeda said.

Suarez is thankful for the help.

“[Ojeda] invested a lot of time in me; he’s there daily. I know his wife very well.” They are “like family,” she said. Flores “not only is my manager but he’s become part of my family as well. He’s not your average 78-year-old man. He’s full of energy, thank God he’s still healthy.”

Every year, between the time constraints of her various other obligations, Suarez returns to the day care at Santa Maria High School as a motivational speaker.

“Not that I’m putting my life on them,” she said. “But this is my story. I made that choice that I wanted to do better for myself and my kids, so I pursued it and I accomplished it.”

 

Contact Staff Writer Sean McNulty 
at smcnulty@santamariasun.com.




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