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'I felt guilty' Katie Taylor's next opponent Miriam Gutierrez opens up about surviving domestic violence


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Miriam Gutierrez escaped a domestic abuser before working with other victims

Miriam Gutierrez escaped a domestic abuser before working with other victims

Miriam Gutierrez escaped a domestic abuser before working with other victims

Katie Taylor's next opponent Miriam Gutierrez is a survivor of domestic violence.

The Spanish boxer was assaulted by her then partner when she was 21.

She was eight months pregnant with her daughter Zayra at the time and suffered a serious facial injury.

Now a campaigner on domestic violence issues, she works with a municipal council in a suburb of Madrid where she coordinates campaigns to combat gender violence.

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Five of Miriam Gutierrez’s 13 wins have been achieved by knockout

Five of Miriam Gutierrez’s 13 wins have been achieved by knockout

Five of Miriam Gutierrez’s 13 wins have been achieved by knockout

"My job means everything to me since I went through difficult times and now I can contribute and help women.

"In the council we are making many changes to help and protect women who go through such difficult physical and psychological moments.

"When the whole situation happened to me, I felt guilty because I thought I was the one to blame for what was happening.

"But let me tell you that the aggressor is responsible for creating this conflict because he gets into your head and makes you feel like you are the one to blame, until you end up believing it.

"Boxing changed my life tremendously, as a person, in how I face things, because boxing has many similarities with my life.

"In the end there will always be a blow that can hurt you. But you are there to get up and fight. In boxing you don't always win, the question is how to deal with it.

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Katie is gearing up to fight Miriam Gutierrez in London

Katie is gearing up to fight Miriam Gutierrez in London

Katie is gearing up to fight Miriam Gutierrez in London

"Life often gets complicated, those situations happen. The truth is that difficult things happen to all of us, and at the same time we must overcome them. That's the value of life.

"Being able to control your emotions inside the ring is what makes you special and different. Having to process inside your head and your heart is the most difficult thing. At the end, I always manage to make it".

Miriam - who starting boxing at the age of 16 - rebuilt her life outside the ring and now has had a partner for 12 years and a second child, Joaquin.

She first laid eyes on Katie Taylor seven years ago.

Eleven months after securing a gold medal at the London Olympics, the Bray fighter was chasing more silverware at the European Union championship in the Hungarian city of Keszthely.

Katie was the star attraction at an otherwise low-key event.

Gutierrez, who represented her native Spain in the welterweight division, made it her business to see Taylor's fights.

Gutierrez bowed out in the quarter-final of the 64kg class, as did Ireland's future world champion Kellie Harrington. Taylor delivered another gold medal.

Next Saturday night the paths of Gutierrez and Taylor cross again - this time inside the ring at Wembley's SSE Arena in London.

Taylor is defending her four lightweight world titles against the Madrid native, who is three years older and has dropped 20 pounds in weight in the last four years to complete in the 60kg lightweight division.

But long before she became a rival for Taylor, Gutierrez was a fan and will remain so regardless of the result of their clash.

Training

"I am a fan of amateur female boxing and I have watched all of Katie's amateur fights and almost all her professional ones. I've always wanted to fight the best."

Regardless of the outcome of her fight against Taylor, she will earn the biggest purse of her professional career.

But no monetary reward will compensate her for the family time she has missed due to her boxing career.

"I have taken a lot of time from them and for this dedication I have lost many moments that I will not recover," she said.

Gutierrez has won three Spanish amateur titles - two as a welterweight and one as a light middleweight - between 2014 and 2016.

But she never had an opportunity to box at the Olympics because neither of these weight divisions were included in the women's boxing programme at the Rio Games in 2016.

"It was a shame to miss out on the Olympics," she said.

Her decision to turn professional at the age of 34 was motivated by the feeling she got when delivering punches using the smaller glove as well as a determination to prove the doubters wrong. "I was told it was not for women."

In between her full-time job she does two hours of physical training in the morning and another two hours of technical boxing work in the afternoon.

To date, her 13 pro fights, have all taken place in Spain but her prowess has earned her the sobriquet La Reina (Queen).

Ranked 11th best lightweight in the world, five of her 13 wins have been achieved via knockout.

She won the European title when she beat British fighter Sam Smith in February of last year and then secured the interim WBA World lightweight belt in November.

Her home city of Madrid is currently under a state of emergency due to a surge in Covid-19 cases.

"It is difficult to deal with the uncertainty and the possible consequences of the virus," she admits.

The boxing world anticipates only one result when Taylor and Gutierrez trade leather, which leaves the Spaniard in a win-win situation.

Taylor carries all the risks, Gutierrez comes with hope and faith.

Sunday World


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