'I want to make it': Pueblo's Alvarez siblings strive for boxing success, Olympic dreams
She just sat to the side and watched.
In the gym, Isaac Alvarez was hitting a weighted bag. He was seven, while his sister on the bench, Iveth, was three.
Gil Trujillo, known for his home boxing gym, motioned her over. He asked if she'd like to try her own hand at hitting the bag — mind you, a weighted punching bag is practically thrice her size at the time.
She struck the bag as hard as she could, trying to emulate Isaac, whom she'd spent a year watching at that point.
Over a decade later, the two are now inspiring the next wave of Pueblo boxers, much the same way they were inspired by now-pro Anthony Soto, who still joins the two to train.
And they're doing it as a family.
Drive to win
There's a unique type of person. While many shy away from contact, some embrace it.
On certain days, Isaac and Iveth are a lifeline for one another. In a sport where the goal is not getting punched in the face, the two of them are each other's engine.
Neither will box one another — outside of fake shadow punches and the occasional goofing around. Both still ignite each other's competitive fire, though.
"Our spirit just drives us both every day to put in 100 percent," Isaac said. "I'll go run and then she'll say, 'OK I'm gonna go run with you.' I'll say I'm going to run four miles, she'll run more. Then I get competitive and have to do more. We push each other to our limits."
On long travels, like their recent trip to Shreveport, Lou, the pair is a comfort, rather than an accelerant or a driving force. They've been to national competitions all over the country en route to multiple national championships between them.
When the trips happen, oftentimes, they are able to learn lessons from one another.
The family affair extends beyond the siblings. Trujillo is part of the nucleus, as well as Soto. Miguel Alvarez, Iveth and Isaac's father, also made it a point to be a part of the team.
The only problem: he didn't know much about boxing.
So, he sought to learn everything he could. All the information that could be found on boxing has been lodged in Miguel's brain. Now, he's even the assistant coach of the team alongside Trujillo.
The aforementioned trips, spanning thousands of miles, are easy. The pre-event nerves and travel time are nothing with a looming support system.
"They (always) come out and support us," Iveth said of her family. "Everybody at home watches (too) and takes time out of their day just to watch us do our best. We have to do our best, we have to perform to the best of our abilities to show everybody where we've come from."
The financial and emotional support the family gives is a small pressure for the Alvarez's. In the walk up to the ring, they know that each fight is a chance to represent Pueblo, their supporters and Colorado.
Once they walk out of the ring, they're still on the hook to prove doubters — those who look down upon Pueblo and its people — wrong.
"We're not some showy people," Soto said. "We're not talking crap, we're not picking fights or anything. We're (all) out there just being nice and respectful kids."
The dream lives
Boxing resembles a web of overpasses in the middle of a crowded highway interchange.
There are several avenues to success. Some boxers will follow the money, attempting to make it professional as quickly as possible. Others will slow-play the process in hopes of reaching a nation-defining stage like the Olympics.
Isaac and Iveth both hold the latter dream.
After several years fighting in the amateur ranks with top national rankings, the pair is focused on reaching the next level and filling their already-loaded trophy case with medals.
"The Olympics is just our next goal," Issac said. "We're just striving there and once we're past that, I want to continue to grow as a boxer — I want to make it. I want to be remembered in the sport."
An Olympics appearance would go hand-in-hand with another goal: inspiring others in Pueblo.
Trujillo's local gym is home to many of the most avid boxers in Pueblo. Even so, there's still a tendency of newbies to quit before they're able to enjoy the fruits of the labor.
Boxing is unique in its intensity. While several CHSAA-sanctioned sports are two-to-three months at a time, getting into the ring is a year-round endeavor.
There's no off-time or summer break when striving for a career in boxing. Trujillo and his top boxers hope their success will inspire others to stick with it.
"People see us and they say, 'that's the kind of gym I want to be a part of, that's the kind of family I want to be with'," Soto said. "The more we get recognition, the more people want their kids in the gym.
"They see how hard we work and our accomplishments and they don't want their kids to just be sitting on the couch all day. They want to teach them some respect and some discipline, even if they don't become fighters who are number one in the nation."
Iveth is more specific in her inspiration. After flying with Soto to his latest pro bout in Orlando, Florida, she was able to interact with several women in the sport.
They inspired her to keep pushing and supported her hopes to help others.
"I saw one of Melissa Parker's fights and when she was my age, she started boxing and met the level she's at now — it's incredible," Iveth said. "I feel like it really stuck out because we (as female boxers) can make a bigger deal and we can show everybody that girls can be just as tough, just as strong and just as good as the males."
Boys and girls across Pueblo can follow the same path as the Alvarez pair. They're making sure that message is loud and clear.
Chieftain reporter Luke Zahlmann can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter: @lukezahlmann.