Anne-Marie Saccurato yelled out instructions like a Marine drill instructor as the female boxers pounded on the heavy bags non-stop in a manic frenzy.

Five minutes passed, then 10 minutes, the sweat on their faces dripped to the floor but no one stopped as Saccurato prodded the women to continue and dig deep for energy.

After 20 minutes of pounding that left them physically exhausted they stopped to rest.

Saccurato, a world champion, looked at them proudly.

Twelve female boxers met this past week in Coachella to participate in the Bad Girls Boxing training camp. The non-profit group organized by Lori Steinhorst met for the second time this year.

?It?s to see what quality boxing is all about,? said Steinhorst who lives in the desert area.

From beginners to world champions the women converged in the steamy Coachella Boxing Club for one week where they were taught proper training regimens, contract negotiations, and awareness of one another in the sometimes unforgiving sport of boxing.

?Laila Ali, Lucia Rijker and Kaliesha West stopped by to speak to the girls,? said Steinhorst who also trains fighters. ?We wanted to empower them.?

All of the women were impressed.

Perhaps world champion Saccurato exemplified most what the seven-day camp represented with her neo-Marine drill sergeant instructions and one-on-one training.

?This camp was an incredible opportunity. I jumped all over it,? said Saccurato a no-nonsense type of person who takes that same mentality in the ring when she fights. ?I take honor in being able to do this.?


Saccurato, like most other boxers, realize their sport is really not a team sport and that at times one can get lost in the nomad mentality. The Bad Girls Boxing camp allowed the girl fighters to interact and learn not only about boxing, but about each other as well.

?Ann-Marie (Saccurato) has been conditioning us and telling us we have to help out each other,? said Ronica Jeffrey, a former amateur star now fighting as a professional out of Brooklyn. ?We can refer each other to fights and other things. Why not help someone else??

Imparting networking ideas was just a small portion of the weeklong camp. Visitors like Ali, West and Rijker dropped by to give some of their world championship knowledge on boxing technique and preparation.

Ali had planned to stay for an hour and ended up staying most of the day with the boxers and sharing not only technical aspects but her experiences too. West recently captured the WBO bantamweight title and shared her insight as well. Rijker, considered one of the best female boxers of all time, has taken an interest in Saccurato.

Zero experience, no sweat

But it wasn?t all about pro boxers. Three girls arrived with zero experience in the ring whether as a pro or amateur.

Tarrah Zael, 20, who lives in Murrieta, was intrigued by the invitation to participate in the boxing camp. Though rather pixyish, the passion to fight looms large in the smallish boxer. Meeting the fighters has further convinced the novice to pursue putting on the boxing gloves.

?It?s something I want to do,? said Zael who is still deciding where she?ll continue learning the science of boxing.

Carolynne Meyers, 10, took part in the camp for a day and so did mixed martial arts fighter Inez Madera.

?I love fighting,? says Madera, 23, who lives in Compton and practices Muy Thai. ?I just want to fight and I don?t care if I lose, but I love winning.?

The pros

The professional female boxers arrived from different parts and with varying experience as a prizefighter. All sparred with each other despite size differences.

?At first I was scared. I?m not afraid to admit it,? said Jennifer Salinas, 28, who has 13 pro bouts and lives in Virginia. ?You got to get beat up to learn something.?

Salinas has been fighting professionally for seven years and admits feeling insecure about her technical boxing knowledge. Despite only two losses in 13 fights the fighter known as the ?Bolivian Queen? doubted herself until arriving. Now after sparring with top notch fighters in different weight classes she feels a big boost of confidence.

?Boxing is not about making appearances and signing autographs,? Salinas says. ?You have to get hit to know this is what you want to do.?

Jeffrey, Gena Taylor, Lucia Larcinese, Brandy Badry and Pia Porter fought as amateurs and now are testing their skills as professionals. All love the sport and found the training camp to be more valuable than anything encountered before.

?I got my confidence back,? says Larcinese of Montreal, Canada.

The Canadian of Italian descent recently lost a close decision in Nevada and also lost confidence in her abilities to fight. But speaking with the others helped her understand that a loss or two doesn?t mean dreams are shattered.

?I can go to New York and be a nurse,? Larcinese says. ?But my heart wants to box.?

Taylor has aspirations of entering the medical field too. But boxing has a tighter grip on her at the moment despite losing by technical knockout in her last fight due to a cut.

?I?ve been training on auto-pilot till I came here,? says Taylor of New Orleans who lost 95 pounds once she began training as a boxer. ?It?s given me a whole new respect being here. It?s been very hard. People always criticize me but this is what I want to do.?

One of the fighters has a 17-year-old son and is just starting her professional career out of Canada.

?It was so motivating and empowering,? said Badry, 35, who has one pro fight and fights out of Edmonton, Canada. ?I believe boxing has always been inside of me. Once opened, it?s hard to stop.?

Former amateur star Jeffrey has seen the differences between amateurs and pros but maintains politics still plays a powerful chip in the sport.

?Boxing is really, really hard. It?s not what you know but who you know,? said Jeffrey, who is an undefeated featherweight. ?But it makes me feel like I?m a part of something.?

One major difference Jeffrey knows is defense is paramount in pro boxing.

?In pros you can feel the shots,? says Jeffrey, adding that without headgear and bigger gloves the punches are much more painful. ?You take less chances.?

No parties

Kymmberli Stowe, 32, is still an amateur and attempting to make the US Olympic team.

?I need as much sparring as possible,? said Stowe of Philadelphia who left boxing for five years and lost 70 pounds since returning. ?I?m learning different techniques from the collaboration of styles. It?s unbelievable.?

Even outside of the gym the female boxers accumulated knowledge.

?We shared a lot of stories about the struggles we experienced,? said Porter, who grew up in Germany as a self-professed party girl. ?I?m blessed I can work as a boxer. I went from hell to heaven in boxing.?

The German citizen is now living in Seattle and moved to the U.S. to learn superior boxing skills and conditioning. All she had to do is look across the gym where Saccurato was standing.

?I can put my tools to work here,? said Porter who is slated to fight in Washington on October 30.

Saccurato knows all about finding refuge in boxing. Before taking up boxing, the upstate New Yorker once endured a horrific car crash that rendered her with so many broken bones and injuries that a doctor feared she may never walk again. But here she was showing the dozen boxers what its like to be in top condition.

?This is bigger than me. This camp is a great opportunity to bring all these girls together,? said Saccurato. ?Everyone is hungry, no animosities, and great willingness to support each other.?

Female empowerment is exactly what Steinhorst had in mind.

Fights on television

Thurs. Fox, 11:30 p.m., Juan Velasquez (10-1) vs. Noe Lopez (6-5).

Fri. Showtime, 11:00 p.m. Patrick Lopez (20-2) vs. Tim Coleman (17-1-1).

Fri. Telefutura, 11:30 p.m. Jorge Barrios (49-4-1) vs. Humberto Martinez (19-4-1).