Teen is Junior Olympic regional boxing champ

Okeechobee’s Karina Maldonado was named the 2019 Junior Olympic Regional Boxing Champion at the Southeastern Regional Junior Olympics Tournament in Rock Hill, S.C. on May 18.

Karina Maldonado stands on the podium surrounded by her family and coaches shortly after being crowned champion at the regional tournament held in Rock Hill S.C. on May 18.


The win now earns her a trip to the USA Boxing National Junior Olympics Tournament scheduled to be held in Madison, Wis. June 22-29.
Karina trains at Boxfit Okeechobee located at 1108 N.W. Park Street. Her trainer, Manuel Sanchez, and family members made the long trip up to Rock Hill on May 17.


“It was our first time traveling out of state for a competition, so it was exciting,” said Sanchez of the road trip to Rock Hill. “It was a long drive but definitely a bonding experience. The night prior to her fight, we had a couple training sessions outside the hotel. Although the workouts were designed to simply get her blood flowing and legs going after the long trip, she was looking ready to go.”


Karina defeated her opponent in the tournament in a unanimous decision, and Sanchez reports that she showed improvements in both her footwork and speed during the match.


Despite the big stage of the regional tournament, Sanchez says Karina showed no signs of nerves before the fight.


“With an event of this magnitude there were high expectations and pressure from friends, family, sponsors, and Okeechobee County to perform,” explained Sanchez. “But Karina did not seem any more nervous or bothered by the importance of this event. She carried herself in a calm and confident manner prior to the fight. In addition, we’ve had this conversation before and she understands that come fight time, no matter the opponent or stage, her job is to stay focused.”

Karina Maldonado (left) has her hand wrapped by her coach Manuel Sanchez (right) before the regional tournament in Rock Hill, S.C. on May 18.


Karina earned a trip to Rock Hill after becoming the Florida Junior Olympics boxing champion back on April 13 in a tournament held in Fort Pierce.
After that win, family and friends moved into fundraising mode to help cover costs for the trip to Rock Hill. A coalition of Okeechobee residents and local businesses gathered together to help Karina make the trip to the regional tournament.


Total Roadside, Fitness Factory, Starlite RV, Peppered Pig BBQ, Pregnancy Center of Okeechobee, Clewiston T-Mobile, Osceola Middle School the Parriot family, Jovanny Torres, Emily Streelman, Patrica Kenny, Bob Helton, Nikki & Mike Barich, David Jones, Diana Ordonez, Sherry Lanning, Lisa Damora, Shannon Stripling Eric McQueen, Chasity Marsh and Mike Doran all contributed to helping Karina compete in the regional tournament.
Sanchez made it clear that without their support the trip wouldn’t have been possible.


Now to prepare for the national tournament being held in Wisconsin, Karina will have a five-week long fight camp at Boxfit Okeechobee with the goal of improving her tactical approach and speed.
While Karina trains for her upcoming fight, Boxfit Okeechobee and her family are attempting to fundraise again to gather enough resources for the trip to Madison.


“In order to help fund the trip we are seeking sponsorships, donations, and contributions,” said Sanchez. “In return Karina and Boxfit Okeechobee will promote and advertise sponsors via our social media pages and our shirts.”
El Primo Supermarket in Okeechobee has already stepped up with a donation to Karina’s trip.


If you’d like to reach out to coach Sanchez to offer a donation or contribution to help Karina represent Okeechobee in the national tournament in Wisconsin you can reach him at 863-801-3974 or by contacting the Boxfit Okeechobee on their Facebook page at facebook.com/boxfitokeechobee/.

Richard Marion is a staff writer and photographer at Lake Okeechobee News and can be reached at rmarion@newszap.com.

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