South Tahoe’s Nikki Cruz wins kickboxing title
On Nov. 7, Meyers resident Nikki Cruz won the 125 pound women’s kickboxing title through Sparta Sports Entertainment in Cheyenne, Wyoming.
Cruz, 19, attends Lake Tahoe Community College in South Lake Tahoe and is one of many athletes who trains at Escobar Training Grounds.
For this specific fight, Cruz trained for about two months after her invitation, mastering her opponents fighting style of close-range and long-range, and doing so six days a week in fight camp.
Cruz says that Corey Escobar, Dory Escobar, Cameron Church and the rest of the team at Escobar Training Grounds have supported her throughout the process.
“They are like family to me, they are so supportive with everything I do,” Cruz said.
Cruz says the support of the gym goes beyond fighting, mentoring and pep talks, but the crew also supports her in her schoolwork. “I get so much inspiration from everyone at the gym. It really helps you keep going.”
Due to COVID-19 and an injury, Cruz’s last fight was September 2019, which also happened to be her first fight as an adult, 18-years old, meaning she wasn’t required to use head guards or shin guards during the bout.
Cruz also had a fight planned for February, but she broke her nose and suffered a concussion during fight camp.
“I am so happy I had the opportunity to fight this year,” she said.
Cruz said she never even thought about becoming a fighter before her junior year of high school when she turned 16 and her inspiration came from a kickboxing class she took.
“I feel really blessed to have come across it [kickboxing],” she said.
The fight on Nov. 7 was a big shift for Cruz whose longest distance for a fight before was only about an hour and a half away in Reno.
Cruz usually fights locally, but was invited to Wyoming for this one. Cruz says that new experience helped her understand the sport more and even foster more growth in her fighting.
“Winning that title meant the world to me,” she said. “There was so much hard work that went into it.”
Cruz’s dad along with a few others from the gym made the trip with her.
“I appreciate everything that has come to me from this sport,” Cruz said. “This isn’t just a victory for myself, but more of a victory for my community and gym. I wouldn’t be here without them.”
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