Last year, the CSUN Matadors Boxing Club sent six boxers to Miami, Florida, where four made the finals and two became champions of the 152 pound men and women’s divisions. That’s the epitome of going zero to 100 real quick.
Giovanna Miranda, 21-year-old junior and deaf studies major, has not boxed since she was 10 years old. Meanwhile, 21-year-old junior and business management, Terrence Harris, has 14 months of boxing experience under his belt, and started doing jiu-jitsu seven months prior.
“I do it probably four times a month,” Harris said. “Jiu-jitsu keeps you calm because you always have to think of a counter, and boxing is at a faster pace. But if you keep that same calmness and you still do your counters, it makes it easier for you to get out of situations.”
Now, both boxers are moving targets as they prepare to defend their titles at the United States Intercollegiate Boxing Association (USIBA) National Championships later this year. Last year, Associated Students granted the team only $1000, and Harris spoke in front of the governing student body to convince them the boxing team were filled with proven warriors.
“I told them if you give us this amount of money to take us to Nationals, we’re going to win. They said ‘how are you sure?’” said Harris. “I said I believe in my team and, lo and behold, we went and came back with two belts.”
The Matadors were ranked No.3 behind the University of Michigan and University of Florida. Michigan had at least 30 boxers, with 23 competing.
“Those two really work hard and they really want it,” said Matadors boxing club supervisor, Macario Del Castillo, a senior majoring in liberal studies. “You got to want it that bad to succeed and you kind of see it in their eyes. They got this drive.”
Miranda chose boxing over karate at 10-years-old, and committed to it for a year and a half before giving it up. She started boxing in the open rec in the SRC, where she met Coach Del Castillo.
“What always keeps me going is fighting, because some people can do it just for the workout,” said Miranda. “But me, I want to fight.”
Miranda and Harris will stay in the respective weight classes, but plan to move into the Novice Division, which is meant for fighters who have two or more fights.
“We knew a year before that nationals was going to be in Florida, so that was a pump for me to try a little bit harder,” said Miranda. “I never imagined going to Florida so that was pretty cool.”
There was a lot of tension in the hotels the first couple of nights, but once the fights were over everyone partied on the strip.
“It was ‘300’ versus the Persians, man,” said Harris. “We didn’t come all this way just to lose. CSUN itself isn’t a big school compared to the schools we competed against. So, this is a standpoint for us to get our name out and be remembered.”
Miranda won her first fight in 30 seconds. Her second opponent backed out and she forced another stoppage in her title fight.
“I try to go into the mindset that I’m sparing back at my old gym,” said Miranda.
Harris said his title fight could have went either way, and described the feeling of winning to, “when you get that final back and you got an A.”
“I didn’t really feel anything because leading up to the fight, I prepared for it, so I got all the jitters out and I knew that people I was sparring with before were way better than the people I was competing against.”
Their goal is to send 10 to 15 fighters to Nationals, and they have a show planned in the Matadome on May 8th, along with annual charity events.
“A lot of people think that college boxers are not as tough as regular amateurs, but at the same time we compete outside of collegiate boxing, so what makes us different is that we just have more on our back,” Harris said. “More fighters, more championships, so this year we’re coming.”