Local boxer continues journey with mom by his side

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Posted at 6:28 AM, Mar 12, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-12 07:28:33-05

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — Just a freshman at Miller High School, Troi Garcia, will be competing in a nationwide USA boxing tournament.

"It's going to be the first big tournament for nationals," he said with a smile on his face. "I'm extremely excited to go."

Garcia is training six days a week with his coach Andrew Luis but he goes by Duke.

His coach watches intently as Troi goes through his drills and continues to get into shape for the biggest moment of his young career so far.

But Duke is not the only person who is watching closely. Gina Banuelos sits at the side of the ring as a sweaty Troi breathes heavily during sparring sessions. She rarely blinks, she's not trying to miss a second.

Gina, is Troi's mom.

She's a single mother of four, a former member of the Army National Reserve and the reason Troi stands in the ring today.

"After going through basic training, I wanted to instill that in them," said Banuelos. "I first put them in karate and that wasn't physical enough for them."

Boxing finally landed the punch as the sport of choice within the family. Gina is at peace with the decision, but it doesn't mean she's relaxed when her son is in the ring.

"Seven years later I am still nervous," continued Banuelos. "Shaking, screaming, still get butterflies in my stomach."

That doesn't stop her from being a teacher from the stands.

"You make one mistake and she is going to scream at you," laughed Garcia. "She is going to tell you."

Gina is yet to miss any of her son's fights. While this upcoming national tournament will be a first for Garcia, it will be a first for Banuelos as well; she will not be attending.

"Me not being able to be there to give him his prayers or hold his hands and cheer him on it's nerve-wracking."

She will watch from home along with the rest of the family. Everyone is hoping for a win or a good finish that places Garcia in the top five.

And while that type of finish would be nice, this experience for mother and son has been far more than the result.

"I'm just proud," said Banuelos. "From the bottom of my heart to the top this game has taught them so much respect and they have grown to be men."

This is the first of what the family believes to be many national tournaments. Garcia is aiming for top. He's looking repay everything his mother has done once he makes it there.

"Everything is for her," said Garcia. "Once I make it up there I am repaying her for everything she has done."