Christella Cepeda - Yonkers' Own Golden Gloves National Champion
by Warren Rosenberg, MetroSports Magazine - August 26, 2022
Yonkers, New York native, Christella Cepeda made her amateur boxing debut at Madison Square Garden on April 8, 2011. She is currently ranked as 5th in the nation of the 23 active women boxers in the lightweight amateur division according to BoxRec and 52nd out of 242 in the world. Two previous attempts to capture a Golden Gloves title, took her to the National semi-finals in 2013 and to the New York semi-finals in 2018, but winning the gold medal and championship belt eluded her.
After a four-year absence from the ring, Christella entered U.S.A. Boxing Metro’s Ring Masters Championships – Road to the Garden and, on June 16th, 2022, she returned to site of her debut fight appearing at the 2022 Ring Masters Championships at Madison Square Garden. Although her first fight at The Garden was a unanimous decision loss to Kathleen Walsh, she claimed redemption on June 16th with a unanimous decision win over Jessica Capurso. With that win, she punched her ticket to try, once again, to capture the Golden Gloves National Championship. And this time, she did!!!
Above: Christella in action at the Golden Gloves National Championships and posing with Coach John and her Championship Belt.
Photos courtesy Yonkers Knockouts
Between August 16th and 20th at the Cox Business Arena in Tulsa, Oklahoma, Christella prevailed in bouts against four opponents in the 2022 National Golden Gloves qualifier, quarter-final, semi-final, and finals to be crowned a National Golden Gloves Champion.
As a graduate of Saunders Trade and Technical High School in Yonkers, former Yonkers Police Department Dispatcher, currently a New York State Police Department Trooper, and a member of the Yonkers Knockouts Boxing Gym, there are many who are joining in Christella’s celebration.
Above: Christella and Coaches at Madison Square Garden in the USA Boxing Metro 2022 Ring Masters Championship
First among those joining in the celebration is Yonkers Mayor, Mike Spano. “Yonkers is in the house, once again!,” said Yonkers Mayor Mike Spano. “Our very own Christella Cepeda represented our city with amazing talent and determination. We send Christella all our best wishes and thank her for making Yonkers proud.”
To her coach at Yonkers Knockouts, John Morrison, the win came as no surprise. “Christella joined the Yonkers Knockouts Team in 2010. From day one we knew she was Special, we saw her potential and she had a natural talent for Boxing. Christella advanced quickly and had her first Boxing Match with 2 Months training. She lost her first fight to a 3 times silver medalist, but it was a 3-2 Decision. WOWWWWW it was then we knew we had a CHAMPION.”
Above: Christella at Madison Square Garden after winning her Gold Medal in the 2022 USA Boxing Metro Ring Masters Championship
“It's an indescribable feeling of Joy and accomplishment. Knowing that all the hard work has paid off is very rewarding”, Christella told MetroSports Magazine. “ I’d like to give a shout out to Troop NYC for all the support throughout this process and to all of the DT instructors for helping me prepare and for the encouragement. First I’d like to thank God for the opportunity and ability to compete. My family for supporting me mentally through the entire journey. My coaches and my team for teaching me all that I know in boxing, and for always believing in me. All of my sparring partners and the coaches that helped me physically prepare. And everyone that showed support in any way, whether it was a prayer, words of encouragement or even on social media. Thank you all for being a part of this moment, a moment that I’ll never forget. There are countless people to name but I appreciate each and every one of you.”
Whether it be through long-established youth boxing programs like the Police Athletic League, USA Boxing, N.Y. Cops & Kids or local gyms like the Yonkers Knockouts, boxing has long played a role in the healthy development of young people and a positive distraction from the lure of the streets. As noted by Yonkers Knockouts’ Coach John, “ ‘Meet them where they’re at’ is our Motto. Our Youth come to us for many different reasons Weight loss, Low Self Esteem, Being Bullied and Trauma. We work on their weaknesses and build them up to be respectful young men and women in the Community. Yonkers Knockouts believes it takes a Village to guide and build our Youth. We will never turn a kid away or give up on them. The youth need something or someone to believe in, Look no further than Yonkers Knockouts.”
When asked what advice she may have for young people, especially girls, interested in following her footsteps, the Champ told us, “Whichever combat sport you choose, do not let anything discourage you. It will be difficult, and time consuming but the results and accomplishments you achieve will absolutely be worth it. Whether you join to compete, for self-defense or fitness; stay focused and disciplined and you will succeed. " And, to whom would she like to recognize for helping her achieve her National Championship, Christella noted, “A special shout-out to Coach John for being there for me since day 1. He’s been a father figure for not only me, but the entire team and all of the work he’s put in as a coach will always be appreciated. John is more than a coach, Yonkers knockouts is more than a team, we are family now and forever.” And, from Coach John, “A special shout out to the Coaches that help make our program Successful. Coach Pat Mitchell head of mentorship, Coach Marilyn Lopez Head of Strength and Conditioning, and Coach Krystal Correa in charge of Sparring and also Christella’s Sparring Partner and Teammate.”
As to what's next Christella told us, "My coaches and I are still discussing whether I’ll be going for the Olympic team or going pro."
We'll be watching.