Fil-Am female fighting Pride of the Philippines, Bay area’s own Ana “The Hurricane” Julaton is back. Julaton, who is the most influential Filipina boxer in the history of the sport and arguably the most popular female boxer to ever come out of the Bay Area, is making her return to the ring after an 11 month hiatus for the biggest test of her career.
Fil-Am female fighting Pride of the Philippines, Bay area’s own Ana “The Hurricane” Julaton is back. Julaton, who is the most influential Filipina boxer in the history of the sport and arguably the most popular female boxer to ever come out of the Bay Area, is making her return to the ring after an 11 month hiatus for the biggest test of her career. Following in the footsteps of her boxing idol Manny Pacquiao, Ana who is ranked in the Top Ten in the World by the WBC at 122lbs Superbantamweight will be moving up two weight divisions to 130lbs, SuperFeatherweight, in order to challenge the coveted #1 Pound for Pound ranking.
Originally, Ana Julaton was to challenge Melissa Hernandez for the WIBA Super Featherweight title this weekend. The bout had been scheduled to take place August 1st. The Julaton camp received word that the fight would be moved to September. Undaunted, Julaton and her camp still have Hernandez in their sights as they continue to architect what would be an upset to one of the top female fighters in the game.
Superfeatherweight Champion Melissa “Hurucan” Hernandez (10 wins 1 loss 2 draw) represents Puerto Rico by way of NY. Melissa “Hurrucan” Hernandez, who is currently the WBC ranked #2 Superfeatherweight, WBA #2 Featherweight, IFBA #2 SuperFeatherweight, is Julaton’s biggest opponent to date both in terms of experience and size. Hernandez is considered by many to be too strong of an opponent for Julaton. In Melissa’s 13 professional fights, she has only lost to WBA Lightweight Champion Laya McCarter (P4P #4). Some boxing experts believe Ana is a huge underdog and should not be taking such a risky fight, but they all said the same things last year before the biggest fight of 2008 Pacquiao vs De La Hoya.
I was able to speak with Ana from West Wind Gym in Berkeley, California, where she teaches martial arts and trains next to Manny Pacquiao! They even have the same coach, Freddy Roach, who once trained Oscar De La Hoya for his May 5, 2007 superfight against Floyd Mayweather, Jr.
ASIANCE: I read that your grandfather was a big fan of boxing yet you were completely turned off to it. What didn’t you like about it? And how did you get into boxing?
Ana: What I didn’t like about boxing was that I didn’t understand it. I didn’t understand what the sport was about. I didn’t understand the science behind it. I thought it was just two athletes trying to beat the tar out of each other. The people fall on the canvas, get back up, take more punishment. It didn’t make sense to me.
I didn’t get involved in boxing until 2004. I was 23. I’m a teacher at West Wind School and our primary focus is to teach self defense. What we wanted to do was incorporate some competition martial arts into practice, such as distancing, timing, things like that, all the stuff we teach in martial arts in a safer manner as opposed to taking someone’s eye out or ripping someone’s throat out.
We found that boxing had a very similar parallel to martial arts. You had to have really good technique, good heart and discipline, versus some of the other comparative martial arts. We ended up finding that (other comparative martial arts) a lot of people would get injured. There is a lot of technique involved. Usually the bigger person would win, etc, etc.
As a teacher, I had to learn some of the basics. The way I approached it was a little different than everyone else’s in a sense where I was thrown into the ring on the first couple of lessons without knowing too much about the basics. I went in with a couple of guys and we were just fighting. It just took off from there. It was just a funny story.
Every time I was in the ring, whether it was martial arts or boxing, she (mom) would always say, “Have no mercy”, “Go get ‘em”.
ASIANCE: I’m hearing your opponent is tough, Champion Melissa “Hurucan” Hernandez .Are you ever scared?
Ana: That’s one thing I was able to learn a lot in amateur boxing, is that you can’t have fear in your mind at all. You have to be 100% confident in yourself and your team. Any inch of fear or doubt, if it creeps in, it will eventually filter into your performance. I don’t even think about it. I go in there, focus on my game plan. I’m confident. My team’s confident. That’s enough for me to have this fight. It’s a challenge.
In boxing, there is this saying, “Styles make fights.” You can have a great champion, but if you have that champion happen to fight someone who has a better style, it’s anyone’s game. I think that is one of the biggest beauties of boxing and I think that’s why it draws a lot of fans. You’re not so sure what you are going to get. Manny Pacquiano for instance, he went up in weight classes. He fought Oscar Delahoya. He fought Ricky Hatton, guys who were bigger. At first there was a lot of doubt like, “Oh this guy has a weighted bench over you.” and “this guy is bigger”….All this and all that.
But Manny knew he had certain advantages over these guys, which is speed. He came out with these fantastic wins.
ASIANCE: How many hours do you train a day? What is a typical work out day for you?
Ana: It kind of depends on the schedule because I still teach here at West Wind Schools, Martial Arts. It depends on the group classes I have to do, whether I have to teach privately or not.
On a typical morning I wake up at 6am, I’ll do some roadwork. It will vary from running 2-3-4 miles, to doing some sprints or stairs, something like that. I’ll have my nutrition. Rest. Take a power nap. Then in a couple of hours, I’ll hit the gym. Depending on what day it is, I’ll do some bag work, mitt work, sparring, so forth..On average I train 3-6 hours a day. Sundays I’m off.
ASIANCE: Who else do you want to fight?
Ana: I’m not really thinking of any other opponents right now. I’m just focusing on this fight. It’s a big fight and for me to look past it, I’m going to be getting a little ahead of myself. I want to do well. I think a lot of people want to watch and a lot of people will be supporting. In terms of any future opponents, I’ll do whatever my team feels is best for me, but right now, I’m just focusing on this one.
ASIANCE: Do you train with men or step in the ring with men?
Ana: Right now for the fight I’m getting ready for, my whole team is composed of men. My sparring partners, the whole team. When I do the bag work, things like that, it’s all guys.
ASIANCE: What would you be doing if you weren’t a boxer?
Ana: I really don’t know. It’s funny. For me personally, what I do in my spare time, I like fashion. I like messing around with hair and makeup. I’m not sure. Ever since I was 10, I’ve always had a fascination with martial arts and it ended up bringing me to boxing and all these other collective arts now. It’s been with me for the past 20 years. If it wasn’t for this, I don’t know what else I would be doing.
ASIANCE: Would you say that you are a girlie girl when you’re not in the ring? You love makeup and fashion.
Ana: Well I don’t think I strike anyone as a girlie girl (laughs). I won’t always have my makeup and stuff like that. But I do appreciate things like that. You know, your manicures and pedicures. That’s relaxing. I wouldn’t consider myself a girlie girl, but I do like things like that.
ASIANCE: Do you ever practice again Manny?
Ana: NO! haaha! I’d be afraid! Whenever we’re getting ready for a big fight, we’ll do training together. I’ll usually do the mitts first and then we’ll switch.
ASIANCE: Did your mom ever discourage you from fighting? Like don’t do that?
Ana: You would think so, but my mom has been a big supporter since the beginning. My mom was born and raised in the Philippines and for her, I think I received my inspiration from my mom. Because every time I was in the ring, whether it was martial arts or boxing, she would always say, “Have no mercy”, “Go get ‘em”. She always pushed for the win versus some of my other relatives who are always encouraging me to go to school or try a different field.
ASIANCE: Your dad is Filipino too right?
Ana: Yes he was born in the Philippines but he came to The States when he was two back in the late ‘50’s early ‘60s. He went through the whole civil rights movement. My dad is very Americanized. Even though my mom and my dad are both Filipino, they’re two very different people. My dad is more American my mom is more Filipino.
ASIANCE: Do you think Women’s Boxing will ever be a part of the Olympics?
Ana: It’s not in the Olympics. It was at one point, as a showcasing sport but as of right now for the past few Olympics, many female fighters have been trying to push the International Olympic Committee to have Women’s Boxing a part of the Olympics. They said they are going to try and push it for the next one.
There are a lot of powerful female fighters out there who have made a powerful impact on the sport. You have Laila Ali, Lucia Rijker. Going beyond boxing you have other female fighters like Gina Carano that are putting their name out there. They are highlighting the sport. For me, whenever I do any of the media work, it’s not my full attention because I’m focused on the fight, but at the end of the day, I think it helps to get the word out and have people hear about it. A lot of people like to compare it to women’s professional basketball. It’s a different game. I think what will be fun and I’m seeing now, is back then, a typical female boxer tended to have the short hair, this incredible physique. They had a certain look. Versus now, if you look at it, there are many female boxers who have a modelesque type of look, the long hair, the curls. They look very feminine.
Hopefully the sport will be just as popular as women’s tennis, where we can actually be an entertaining sport for the entire audience.
ASIANCE: Do you see any potential in any of your students?
Ana: I think for anyone who practices martial arts, they’re learning how to use speed to their advantage, know how to control their body and things like that. Martial arts forces work discipline so the work ethic will be there. I think on a general point, for those people who start in martial arts, it will be easy for them to convert to boxing.
I think in terms of my own personal students, there are a few of them that have the attitude for it. It’s not an easy sport. You have to go through a lot and you have to generally enjoy it. There are a couple students. There are some from all ages. There are a few young ones and then some ladies, who if they want to invest their time in it, can really do well.
ASIANCE: Will you ever coach?
Ana: I thought about it. It seems like fun. I feel like with all the experiences that my team and I were able to come up with the past few years, I feel like I gained a lot of knowledge and it would be fun to share it. And at the same time to give back to the amateurs, even just “feel well” boxing, to try to use what we were able to build up for the past couple of years and see if we can go back to the root of it and put more emphasis on the amateur female fighters out there. It’s not something I’ve been thoroughly thinking about because I’ve been concentrating on the fight but it definitely strikes an interest.
ASIANCE: Do you have anything you’d want to say to girls who want to follow in your footsteps?
Ana: If you have a dream, think big. That’s what all my teachers have said. Even if you don’t accomplish it, if you gain half of it, you’ll still be successful. There’s going to be a lot of people who tell you, that you can’t do this, you can’t do that. The only thing that’s really going to stop you is yourself. Always listen to yourself.
Ana will be fighting September 18th at the Chumash Casino in Santa Ynez, CA.