By Robert Salas
At first glance, Brandi “Baby Doll” Montoya is just that, a doll. Standing 5 foot 1 inch tall, Montoya appears to be harmless. Her smile reflects the genuine passion she carries for life. And when she’s playing with her husband and son, you’d never guess that Montoya is bonafide boxer and U.S. Marine veteran.
At age 14, Montoya found herself getting into schoolyard fights a little too often. Her father then insisted that she find an outlet for her aggression. Being the boisterous young lady that she was, Montoya chose boxing. Her notoriously hubris attitude was quickly checked at the Rosales Karate and Kickboxing Gym in Los Lunas New Mexico. It was there that Montoya met now coach, Professor Anthony Rosales, an esteemed martial arts instructor in New Mexico.
“I got beat up a lot. He put me up against some of his top fighters and they taught me that I wasn’t the best and, that I wasn’t even that good,” Montoya told Grey Wolf. “I started getting humbled (for the first time).”
Montoya said that practicing karate and kickboxing taught her a lesson in humility but it also instilled in her the patience and discipline she needed to become the strong woman that she is today. She plans to raise her son on those same principles, which is why he is now enrolled at Rosales Karate and Kickboxing. Even if her now, 1-year-old son, chooses to not continue with martial arts in the future, Montoya said she will be glad that he learned these valuable lessons early in life.
Five years ago, Montoya left New Mexico to join the Marine Corps. where she met her husband. Since then, they’ve returned to the Land of Enchantment and after a 6-year-hiatus, Montoya is entering the ring again to fight at 118 pounds. She said after such a long stint away from boxing, coming back is a bit nerve-racking but she is confident in her growth as a boxer and as a person.
“I’m older now so I think I’m more mature after everything I’ve been through,” Montoya said. “My mentality is a little bit different. I’m still Brandi but I’m an older Brandi.”
A Female in a Majority Male Sport
For Montoya, being a woman in a male-dominated sport is easier than being a woman in the Marines. She said, overall, the sport of boxing is highly inclusive. Being a ‘tomboy,’ it was relatively straightforward being around a bunch of male fighters. Montoya said that she never got much backlash for being a woman in boxing. Friendship and camaraderie are what get respect in the boxing gym.
“You gotta just have a thick skin and you got to kind of just be a ‘bro’ to the guys,” Montoya said.
The military was a different case. Montoya said that in the Marines, sexism can be more blatant.
“They’re more vocal about (it), they can be a little bit chauvinist when it comes to women,” Montoya told Grey Wolf.
Regardless of any stereotypes, Montoya served 5 years in the Marine Corps. and is more fierce than ever. With her upcoming bout, Montoya wants to prove that she’s still got it.
It’s no secret that New Mexico is a hub for mixed martial arts. The state houses world-class athletes like, Former UFC Bantamweight Champion, Holly Holm. For Montoya, having a strong fight community is what makes New Mexico one-of-kind. She looks to her family as a support system and believes that it is vital to her success.
“I am from Albuquerque. I feel like New Mexicans are very family-oriented and that’s why we are here,” Montoya said. “I want my son around that support system.”
Montoya fights on October 20th at the National Hispanic Cultural Center. Tickets can be purchased at Rosales Karate and Kickboxing.