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Local boxer Orlando Zamora secures spot with Team USA
Orlando Zamora
Turlock High senior Orlando Zamora poses with his four championship belts that he has acquired in 11 years as a youth boxer, the most recent being the blue and gold belt featuring an eagle, representing a USA Boxing National Championship. He won it in December for the Elite Male 119-pound division (CHRISTOPHER CORREA/The Journal).

Orlando Zamora, 18, isn’t a stranger to big fights. Prior to the USA Boxing National Championships and the U.S. Olympic Team Trials at the Cajundome in Lafayette, LA on Dec. 4, he had collected three national titles in his 11 years as a boxer. 

As the Turlock High senior made his walk to the ring ahead of his first bout of the National tournament on Dec. 5, he was admittedly nervous, as the Elite Male 119-pound weight class was the oldest age group and heaviest division he had ever competed in. He eventually channeled those nerves into one of the greatest weeks of his life from a performance standpoint, defeating all four of his nationally ranked opponents by unanimous decision to secure a spot with Team USA.

Zamora’s opponents at the National Championships were Zariah Jimerson of Texas, Camara Bailes of Georgia, Arturo Acevedo of New York and. Shy’heim Ashford of North Carolina in the finals. He explained that they each had their own unique style, but that he was able to adapt.

“I fight orthodox… But no matter what comes my way, I feel like I can always adapt and switch it up. I can always switch up my style. I can find my style,” he said.

Zamora, who trains out of Marquitos Boxing in Fresno and Winton and works on his strength and conditioning at The Truth Boxing in Turlock, will now have his sights set on training with the United States Olympic boxing team in March. Despite there being no 119-pound weight class at the Paris Olympics this year, Zamora is motivated to build himself up to compete at the National Qualifiers later this year. He is also looking forward to competing in international tournaments and eventually defending his title in December.

He is the first Turlocker to be a member of a Team USA National Team since Sandra Tovar in 2019. Fittingly, he has trained with Tovar in the past and has looked up to her for many years.

“I remember her and I look up to her like crazy and all the support she got,” Zamora shared. “I’ve always wanted to represent Team USA like she did and I’ve always been pushing for that… I can’t wait to get started.

“It’s a big deal for me,” he continued. “When you win a national championship at this level, at this division, it means you made it. To compete with the best of the best in the country, and now to be able to represent USA on such a big stage, with such a big spotlight on you, it’s amazing.”

Just a few of the names watching Zamora in December were undisputed light welterweight champion Terrence “Bud” Crawford, multiple weight undisputed female champion Claressa Shields, and promoter James Prince.

“You get noticed more,” Zamora said of his #1 ranking at 119-pounds. “It gets my name out there, especially being able to train with Team USA and traveling a lot more. Especially being from a small town like Turlock. This can put Turlock on the map in boxing.”

And like Tovar, who continues to train youth boxers in Turlock, Zamora hopes to inspire and give back to the community.

“That's my biggest thing. I want to help athletes too, because I know it's hard to be from Turlock and think that these things aren’t possible. I want to try to help others because I know there's a lot of talented athletes and good people around,” he said.

As he and his family prepare for a busy year of traveling, training and competing, Zamora has asked for any support from the community.

“Traveling is expensive, especially having to pay for flights and hotels, so we're looking for sponsors. We have one sponsor right now, so if anybody else who is in the area or any small businesses, anything is helpful.”

He encouraged anyone willing to follow him and message him on Instagram, @Nano.Boxing27.