Adrenaline: Adelaida Ruiz
From motherhood to boxing glory. We discover the inspiring journey of Adelaida Ruiz, who fought against the odds to become a world champion, and her fights are far from over
Photography by Timothy Kwon
Adelaida Ruiz from Los Angeles is a remarkable female boxer whose journey in the sport has been both inspiring and challenging. Adelaida’s passion for boxing was nurtured from a young age within her family, and after a hiatus to raise her children, she made a triumphant return to the ring. Now, at the age of 34, she has already achieved significant milestones, including becoming the current WBC interim world champion at super flyweight. Today, we delve into her story, discussing her motivations, the hurdles she has faced as a female boxer, and her aspirations for the future.
Glorious: How did you become interested in boxing? Is it a sport that you have grown up with and always wanted to compete?
Adelaida Ruiz: Well, I wasn’t really interested in any other sport. It’s just that I was always around boxing. My brother started boxing, my dad started coaching, and then they decided to have my little sister join boxing. Since we’re only 18 months apart, we’re really close. So, when she decided to join and started boxing, I followed her, and that’s how it all started. I boxed from the age of 12 to 17. At 17, I got pregnant while I was already competing nationally. I had travelled to various states for boxing matches. I tried to continue boxing after giving birth to my son Julian, but it was difficult for me, especially since I was breastfeeding him. I even left him with my mum to attend Nationals one summer, but it was so hard for me. So, I made the decision to leave boxing and focused on raising him and two more children, Joanna and Jordan.
Glorious: You had a break from boxing to raise your three children and then came back to the sport at the age of 27. What inspired you to get back into the ring?
Adelaida Ruiz: I always tell people that boxing is very addictive, whether you go in as a boxer, coach, manager, or promoter, so, I did miss it. But what really motivated me was seeing that female boxers were finally allowed to compete in the Olympics. Before that, female boxers were not given that opportunity. It devastated me to think that it could have been me if I had the chance. So, I said to myself, “Hey, it’s not too late. When my son turns five, I’m going back to the gym, working on myself, turning professional, and seeing how it goes.” And that’s exactly what I did.
Glorious: If you had continued boxing as a teenager, do you think you would have realised your potential, or do you think coming back to the sport older and wiser has helped?
Adelaida Ruiz: I believe everything happens for a reason, and it benefited me that I am older now. I think more now than I did as a kid. Back then, I used to think I was the best boxer out there and that nobody could beat me, but now I am more humble and disciplined. I understand that nobody is going to hold my hand and guide me. This is my life, my children, and the ring, so I take the sport very seriously. It’s not like any other sport when I was younger.
Glorious: How difficult is it to juggle your family, boxing career, and day job at a doctor’s office?
Adelaida Ruiz: It’s like having a packed schedule all the time. I have a calendar to keep track of everything. This month is relatively clear because I’m taking a week off from the gym, but my life has a routine. When I come back to boxing, I realise that I don’t have time for everything. If a friend wants to hang out, I often have to decline because my schedule is tight. I wake up early at 4 am to go to the gym, train, go to work, and then straight to the gym again. My father helps me by taking my children to school. After training at the gym until around 7 or 8 pm, I go back home to make dinner for my kids and spend some time with them before falling asleep. There’s not much free time in my schedule.
Glorious: Tell us about the gym where you train, as it’s a real family affair.
Adelaida Ruiz: Yes, my brother manages the gym, and my dad is a coach. My older sister Ramona is also involved in the background; I would call her my advisor. I’m one of 11 children, and Ramona used to help my mum out a lot with the other kids, so she is like a second mum to me. The gym is also a big part of the community, and we have a lot of children there. Some of them come from low-income or broken homes. The membership fee is really cheap per month, and the county provides food for them. So, for them to be there with us and see a world champion like me, they get so happy. Being around my dad and me helps them out and gives them a little bit more motivation, something that they sometimes lack at home. Sometimes they don’t even want to leave the gym.
Glorious: When you are ready to fight and step into the boxing ring, what emotions do you feel?
Adelaida Ruiz: I don’t know exactly what emotions I feel because there’s so much adrenaline. I appear very calm. People often tell me, “We see you, Cobra (that’s what they call me), and you’re all smiles. You’re very calm.” But as soon as I step into the ring, I become very neutral. It’s like a switch flips, and I go into game mode. After the fight, it’s all smiles again, and I’m everywhere. I don’t know what specific feelings I have; I’m just very happy to be there. Finally, the day has come after six to eight weeks of non-stop training. So, when the day finally arrives, it’s like, “Hooray, the day is here!”
Glorious: As a female boxer, have you faced challenges?
Adelaida Ruiz: Oh, yes, a lot. It feels like male boxers are up here, and female boxers are down there. We have to prove ourselves a little bit more than male boxers do. Promoters in the USA have no problem investing in male boxers, but they are afraid of investing in female boxers. I can sell a ton of tickets against what the guys can sell, but my pay will always be less. There’s always that difference and we have to work twice as hard as men because we have to prove ourselves. It’s sad because my dad, who is a coach, sees it too. He’s not biased because I’m his daughter. He always says that he used to follow a lot of men’s boxing, but then he started seeing women’s boxing once I started. He realised that we always work twice as hard because we have something to prove. In a fight, we put our hearts out there. We fight with all our might, even though we may struggle to catch our breath. It seems like the men take more time because they don’t have as much to prove.
Glorious: What are some of the biggest misconceptions or stereotypes that you’ve encountered as a female boxer?
Adelaida Ruiz: I often see comments on social media like, “Who cares about women’s boxing?” or “It’s just women boxing, it’s not a girl’s sport.” There are little comments here and there from people who don’t support female boxers and don’t like it. They see boxing as a very manly sport, and that’s how they think it should be. They don’t see it as a sport for girls.
Glorious: The popularity of female boxing is growing in the UK. The first ever all-female boxing card in the UK with 11 bouts was held at London’s Arena last year. Is female boxing becoming more recognised in the US?
Adelaida: I’ve noticed that in other countries, female boxers are often the main event. They hold events with one or two female fights. But here in the USA, it’s rare to see a female boxer as the main attraction. We’re still below, and it seems like every other country includes female fights in their events. Mexico, for example, has many female fighters. Unfortunately, we’re a little bit behind here.
Glorious: Are there any female boxers that you look up to and admire?
Adelaida Ruiz: I have a lot of respect for Christie Martin. I didn’t really follow her career as a boxer, but after watching her documentary, I realised that everybody has a story. I respect her for all that she went through to reach the top.
Glorious: How do you mentally prepare for a fight?
Adelaida Ruiz: If I know I’m training appropriately and working hard, I mentally prepare myself by reminding myself that I did my best at the gym. I did my running, my strength and conditioning. When everything piles up and I know I did everything as I should, I just know that I’m ready. I don’t think there’s anything more I could have done. On the other hand, if I didn’t train correctly, I know I have to push myself a little bit more. But overall, if I trained hard and put my heart into every aspect of my preparation, I feel ready.
Glorious: What have been your career highlights so far?
Adelaida Ruiz: I’m currently undefeated with 14 fights under my belt, including eight knockouts and one draw. The big fight that stands out is when I became the current WBC interim world champion at super flyweight. I’m also ranked number one in three different organisations: WBC, IBF, and WBA. Additionally, I’m ranked number five in the Ring Magazine. I’m doing well so far, but I want more. Boxing is a good challenge for me, and I always try to challenge myself. In my last fight, I faced a former world champion from Argentina. Despite being heavier, I was able to knock her out in the eighth round. I now want to step up, move up in weight classes, and see what I can do in higher categories.
Glorious: What message or advice would you give to aspiring female boxers who want to enter the sport?
Adelaida Ruiz: My advice would be not to give up. If you believe in yourself, go for it. Don’t listen to the negativity. Trust the process because it’s not something that happens overnight. It takes time for big accomplishments to happen, but they do happen with hard work and dedication. Many people tend to give up too soon, too quick. They just need that extra little push from someone who tells them to keep going. When I returned to boxing aged 27, I was told I was too old, but I didn’t let that discourage me. It’s never too late. Keep going, and you’ll see results.
Glorious: What’s next? Would you ever consider boxing as a full-time job? What is your dream?
Adelaida: We’re aiming for a world title fight in August or during the summer. If that doesn’t happen, I’ll move up in weight classes and look for a world title in a different category. My ultimate dream is to become an undisputed world champion.