Keller chases olympic dreams in local “sweatbox”
By Alonzo Garza
In a hot, sweaty, makeshift gym on Apple Street, a national champion trains.
Lockhart native Katherine Keller won at the National Championship USA Boxing Tournament held from June 8-11 in Denver, Colo.
At only 15, Keller has achieved great success in a relatively short period of time. She is ranked number one in the Uni
ted States in the 138-pound Junior Female Division.
“Winning the National Championship has showed me that I accomplished something I thought I never would,” Keller said. “I now know that I can do good in this sport if I work hard and if I have heart.”
She showed heart during her training in “the sweat box” on Tuesday and Wednesday, June 16-17. Keller was disciplined and determined, undeterred by the blistering heat and humidity of the day. She warmed up with sprints and a jump rope before having her hands wrapped for sparring.
“Katherine came into the gym wanting to lose weight and build her self-esteem,” Keller’s boxing coach and trainer Pete Arciniega said. “She never intended to box and quite frankly, I never thought she would… But to everyone’s surprise, she did and has never looked back.”
Arciniega talked proudly of the progress and success Keller has achieved in her budding career as a boxer. He attributed most of it to her fearless determination and competitive nature.
“In her short time boxing, Katherine has managed to achieve more goals in less than 10 fights than most fighters do in 50 fights,” he said. “She won a gold medal at the U.S. Junior Olympic National Tournament, which is the biggest tournament for juniors. She’s a champ.”
Although she did not plan to be a boxer, Keller said she is grateful for the opportunity to succeed at something that has helped her in other ways as well.
“I came into the gym two years ago,” she said. “I know I only came to lose weight and gain some self-esteem, but now I am a boxer. To tell the truth, no one thought I would make it through the first month. Boxing has done many great things for me. It is amazing. It has gotten me closer to God and helped me with school too.”
Keller has high hopes for her boxing career with her ultimate goal being to make it to the Olympics. She demonstrated her skills and drive by winning at the State Regional matches and the Texas State Championships, where she advanced to Nationals. Once there, she fought several fights and finished with a gold medal. She won the Title match by defeating a girl from Arkansas in three two-minute rounds and finishing with an 18-0 Olympic score.
“My next goal is to go to Florida to keep building my record and to get more points,” she said. “My family and coach have helped me through the tough times with boxing. Whether it is getting through the intense workouts or keeping my weight down to a fighting level, they are always there to support me. I plan to work harder and fight more fight to get more points to fight in the 2012 Olympics. That is my number one goal. To go to the Olympics and win. I’ve learned that I win my fights in the gym, not the ring.”
Keller looks forward to participating in the Female Golden Glove competitions in Florida in July.