“I can be a girl and still box,” said Chantel Cordova, a female boxer from Pueblo West, while speaking to an audience at the Occhiato University Center on Wednesday.
Cordova appeared in a dress with a ruffled collar to discuss her history with boxing.
“Since I was nine, I worked hard. It was hard work to accomplish my goals. I’m 27 now, and have a 5 year old, I work full time, and I train at night,” Cordova said.
She told the audience a few stories about her expectations as an athlete in a male-dominated sport.
“My dad didn’t want girls to fight. He said they were too little and too pretty,” Cordova said. “But there was a little Indian girl in Ignacio and I fought her and won. I remember when I hit her, her pony tail spun around every time.”
Her mother did not tell her father about the fight until after she won.
Cordova tried other sports in her young athletic career. But she met an obstacle when she was a sophomore and her softball coach told her, “There is boxing, and there are sports.”
“He made my decision for me,” Cordova said. “I boxed.”
She stayed busy from 2005-06, winning back-to-back National Championships. Cordova also qualified for the USA female boxing team and took second in the Pan Am Games in Argentina in 2005.
She showed the CSU-Pueblo audience her medals, and even let the audience pass them around.
Unfortunately, Cordova turned professional because the Olympics did not offer women’s boxing. Two years later, she regretted it because 2012 became the first Olympic games to feature female boxing.
Cordova continually spoke about the rough social issues that she had to conquer but did so in a positive manner.
“I had to fight like a man, but I don’t get paid like man,” Cordova said.
As a result, she works as a dental assistant. Some day she hopes to return to school, but now she juggles three jobs. But she did what it took to achieve her dreams, and she encouraged her audience to work toward dreams while multi-tasking.
After the birth of her child, Cordova told herself she hoped to be No. 1 in the world. But fate wouldn’t have it so easy for her. When she returned to the ring she lost. Cordova remembers her return fight.
“I should have beat her up!” she joked, “Really.”
She lost again when she went to Mexico for a title fight. She reminisced about her weigh-in with a huge crowd in the middle of Mexico City.
“That was the biggest weigh-in and press at any of my events,” Cordova said, “And I lost again.”
Cordova went on to lose three consecutive fights. Then, she made a decision for the next match. She told herself and her family that if she didn’t win that fight, she would quit. She watched all the Rocky movies before her match and went out to win. She did just that.
“It’s all about believing in yourself. I won,” Cordova said. “Now, I get to rematch Holly Dunaway, the tough girl I lost to. She’s ranked No. 1 in the world. How many chances to you get to redo something like that in your life?”
But Cordova has a fight before that. She meets her next opponent March 21 at the Pueblo Convention Center. She already has another fight booked afterward on May 10 in California for a title. She hopes to win a world championship before retiring.
She told one more story about winning a Golden Gloves title.
“A lot has changed since I started. Whether women weren’t as good as men or as ugly as men, I don’t know. It’s hard to live under successful boxers like my dad and brother. The sibling is in the shadow and they have to prove they are good. I won the Golden Gloves for outstanding female fighter. I feel good as an individual,” Cordova said. She passed around her belt to the audience, too.
Cordova took audience questions after the speech, and answered questions about her fights.
“My fights are six, eight and 10 rounds. Each round is two minutes,” Cordova said.
“My music has to be PG,” she said, referring to her entrance to the ring.
She wants it kid friendly. “Boxing has shown me the world; I’ve been to 42 states and four countries.”
Cordova stayed after her presentation to pose for pictures and sign autographs. She encouraged her audience to go the fight on March 21 at the Pueblo Convention Center.