Angie Zuniga: a boxer, through and through
Despite injury, uncertainty and a jam-packed life, Zuniga rolls with the punches and keeps boxing.
Angie Zuniga defines tough love. One minute, she’ll be shouting at a boxer to keep her gloves up—45 minutes into an intense workout. The next, she’ll be laughing while “working the mitts” with a guy a foot taller than she, holding her ground while catching scripted punch combinations.
Zuniga has come a long way. She battled through her childhood with an absentee mother and father. She worked a full-time job, raised four sons as a single mother and earned her GED—boxing all along the way. Now she is a trainer at Flawless Boxing & Fitness on Broadway, where since 2015 she has worked alongside Brandon “Flawless” Gonzales, a boxing phenom in his own right. Though the 5-foot-3-inch Zuniga is only a bit older than Gonzales, there was a time when she made up an integral part of his coaching staff. SN&R roped in Zuniga to chat about her lifelong love of pugilism.
Who was your toughest opponent?
So my toughest fight was with Samantha Vega. I usually fought in the Bay Area, but we fought at Colonial Theatre on Stockton Boulevard in Sacramento; the venue has got a lot of history. This girl was from somewhere close to Fresno.
They used to look at me as, you know, an experienced boxer, ’cause these girls were coming up, and I was in my late 20s. And what happened was, we were going at it: I hit her “bottom-up,” and then she came forward. She was a little taller than me, and she hit me in the chin. I backed up because she’d wobbled me, and I felt one of my legs start to shake. Instead of covering up, I went forward to fight her. I remember just swinging, and she backed off. I recouped and then the bell rang. After that, the last round was an all-out fight. That was an awesome fight.
How about another notable contest?
I qualified for the California Golden Gloves in 2010. I was almost 35 years old. I had to lose one pound to make weight. I went to the sauna at 24 Hour Fitness and my trainer made me walk and spit over and over.
What sort of music do you like to listen to in the gym?
I listen to old-school. Music like Rick James, Michael Jackson, but you know, upbeat stuff. I like Teena Marie, New Edition. Stuff with a beat. It keeps people going. And old-school hip-hop; I actually love to listen to Tupac.
I’ve heard you talk about your back injury. Would you tell us about that?
I got hurt when I was 26. I was doing shipping and loading full-time, and to accommodate my boxing, I would double-shift. I’d work early in the morning and late at night. … We were at the end of our shift. Everybody was leaving. We were unloading weight machines from a truck, shoving ’em out. And so I sat down, and pushed one back, and my back went out. I didn’t stop unloading, but when I sat down later, I didn’t get up.
My back was never the same, and I never fought the same, but I kept boxing. I survived my childhood. I survived being poor. I feel like boxing gave me the strength to be able to do anything.