I knew I had to do something, and so I chose boxing. It's changed my life. —Milo Gutierrez
SALT LAKE CITY — Milo Gutierrez thought he’d worked hard enough to earn a trip to the National Golden Gloves Tournament last year.
He was wrong.
So the 22-year-old Herriman man made more sacrifices, worked even harder and developed a mental toughness he didn’t know he had.
That effort paid off when he earned his first Golden Gloves regional championship Saturday afternoon at the Salt Palace with a win over Wrylee Padilla, Wyoming, in the 141-pound division.
He is one of four Utah fighters who earned a spot on the Rocky Mountain National Team with victories in Saturday’s championships.
Gutierrez fought and beat Padilla at last year’s regional, but it was in the first round. He lost in the second round, and he said that hunger has fueled this year’s effort.
“I have a good team around me,” he said. “(I’ve) just been staying in the gym so that I’m focused. I’m trying to keep busy so I don’t go off and do things that I don’t need to be doing.”
Gutierrez said boxing became his lifeline after a night put the reality of his choices into a grim focus. He said his parents, frustrated with his trouble-making ways, “gave up” on him.
“I knew I had to do something, and so I chose boxing,” he said after winning the state tournament. “It’s changed my life.”
Guitierrez spends as much time as he can at Fullmer Brothers Boxing Gym in South Jordan, and he’s seen improvement in every area of his fighting.
He said his expectations now that he’s earned a trip to nationals are even higher.
“I want to go all the way,” he said. “I made it this far. I can’t quit now. I feel like I made a lot of sacrifices to get where I am.”
In the 132-pound division, Gabriel Chairez defeated Jalen Gibson, Wyoming. In the 152-pound division, Jon Bryant defeated Austyn Broncho, Idaho. In the 165-pound division, Bryant Kimbrough, Idaho, defeated Billy Wagner, Montana. And in the 178-pound division, Halatoa Piutau, Utah, defeated Frankie Gold, Idaho.
The Golden Gloves National Tournament will be in Lafayette, Louisiana, on May 1. Gutierrez said he's never been "east or south," so the trip will be an adventure for him.