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Sunday, September 21, 2008

Sports Spotlight: Boxing's Melissa 'Huracan' Hernandez


Bronxite Melissa Hernandez is known in the boxing world as “Huracan,” Spanish for hurricane.
This boricua boxer made history earlier this month in Las Vegas, winning her third world title belt, the vacant Women's International Boxing Association's super featherweight crown.
She defeated Elsa Nuñez, scoring a unanimous 10-round decision. This is the latest addition to her titles. Hernandez is also the winner of the International Female Boxing Association’s Super Bantamweight title and the Global Boxing Union’s Female Lightweight Title.
Described as fiery, highly entertaining, and confident, Hernandez says she loves the challenge of the sport.
"I am pound for pound one of the best female boxers in the world and I don’t want to just talk about it," she says. "I want to show it. In New York City, I am without a doubt the best female boxer, and I want to prove that I am the best wherever I go."
She now holds a title in three different divisions, which is a real accomplishment in the boxing world. If she were a male boxer, she would probably be a millionaire and more of a household name.
Based on her number of titles alone, she joins her fellow Puerto Rican male boxers Wilfredo Benitez, Wilfredo Gomez, Hector Camacho, Felix Trinidad, and Wilfredo Vazquez who have won three or more division titles.
Hernandez, who was born in Mayaguez, Puerto Rico, and raised in the Bronx, says she always "wanted to be up there with all the great Puerto Rican boxing champions from the past."
Although boxing is a male-dominated sport, Hernandez believes there is a market for female boxers. She is outspoken about the need for the sport to be fairer to female boxers.
"Women boxers get the short end of the stick all the time cause promoters feel women have a set pay already," she says. "For example, women don’t get that much for title fights. The men get well you up to millions. The women don’t."
But this does not deter Hernandez's love for the sport.
Her family is not crazy that she's a boxer because "they don't want me hurt."
Still, Hernandez is never really outside the ring.
“Things I like to do when I’m not boxing is training my fighters," she says. "I have a stable of fighters from amateurs to world champions at the famed Gleason’s Gym. Crazy thing about me is I eat, sleep and box."
On her spare time, she enjoys spending time at home with her family and friends.
"My home girl Belinda Laracuente, also a boxing champion, often times comes over to help out with the cooking, where we often share recipes," she says. "Nice place to relax when I don’t have a fight coming up. Everyone comes to the house to get the best Latino cooking in town." -- Ismael Nuñez

Ismael Nuñez is a freelance writer based in East Harlem.

(photo courtesy of Melissa Hernandez)

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