Young Boxers Shining Bright in Las Cruces
(LAS CRUCES) -- The Police Athletic League helps area youth focus on sports, keeping them far away from any of kind of trouble. Recently, two teens from the program received big honors from the City of Las Cruces. Ayanna Vasquez, 17, is just like any other boxer in the ring. “I can beat up a guy, I can beat up a girl, it doesn’t really matter to me I mean, I get beat up too something, that keeps you going,” she said. Vasquez earned the bronze medal last month at the U.S.A. Boxing National Tournament. She is one of two teens that placed in the entire state of New Mexico. “Fighting with a guy is a little harder, a little tougher but when I go fight with a girl its nothing because I’ve already been hit the worse with a guy so its easier,” she said. Edmund Guzman, 16, a state champion and now a silver medal winner at the same tournament admits every event gives him more and more confidence. “It inspires me to work harder because I proved to myself that I can make it and my coaches they proved me too that I can make it so just working hard,” said Guzman. The teens are members of the Las Cruces Police Athletic League (PAL) Boxing Club. It's a program dedicated to taking at-risk youth off the streets. “Besides sportsmanship I think they are learning discipline, one thing they learn is team work in how to support one another and there’s a lot of commodity there,” said PAL board member Chris Barela. Through the program, teens improve on their studies. Many make it through college and some even go on to win national titles or like Guzman and Vasquez are honored with the keys to the City of Las Cruces. “You get a good feeling of accomplishment whether you help one kid or you help twenty kids, if you help one kid and you pull them out of the jaws of self-destruction than I think you’ve accepted everything God put you on the planet to do just saving one kid,” he said.