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Boxing: Martinez-Pino, faithful advocate of the sport, dies

Sandy Martinez-Pino, a tireless contributor to New Mexico boxing and an amateur boxing figure of international stature, has died. She was 65.

Details regarding cause of death were unavailable, but friends have told the Journal she’d recently had serious health problems.

She is scheduled for induction into the New Mexico Boxing Hall of Fame, now posthumously, at the organization’s annual banquet on Oct. 27.

“She was Mrs. Boxing,” Albuquerque boxing promoter Lenny Fresquez told the Journal Saturday in a phone interview.

During her 44-year involvement with boxing, Martinez-Pino served at different times as secretary, vice president and president of USA Boxing, the amateur sport’s national governing body.

She was the first woman and, according to a bio assembled by the New Mexico Boxing Hall of Fame, the first person of Hispanic heritage to serve as USA Boxing’s president.

She worked for USA Boxing or for AIBA, the world amateur boxing organization, at at least four summer Olympiads.

“She broke down barriers and achieved accolades no woman had achieved before in the sport,” Martinez-Pino’s daughter, Alexis Gonzalez-Cuza, posted recently on Facebook in response to her mother’s impending induction into the New Mexico Boxing Hall of Fame.

Martinez-Pino served as a timekeeper at the Los Angeles Games in 1984. At Atlanta in 1996, she helped supervise the amateur sport’s new computerized scoring system. In Athens (2004), she served as a U.S. team administrator — seeing that the American boxers stayed healthy, focused, well-fed and out of trouble.

Over the years, she developed close relationships with many of those U.S. amateur boxers.

In an interview with the Journal, Martinez-Pino recalled trying to comfort future world champion Evander Holyfield after his controversial disqualification at the L.A. Olympics in ‘84.

“I wound up crying, and Evander wound up having to comfort me,” she said.

Future world champion and 1988 Olympian Roy Jones Jr., Martinez-Pino told the Journal, used to introduce her to friends as his mom.

Martinez-Pino was an advocate for women’s boxing. She served as chairwoman for an AIBA women’s boxing subcommittee and as president of the female boxing committee for Copabox, a pan-American organization for the amateur sport.

Albuquerquean Stephanie Jaramillo, a former amateur and professional boxer, was 14 and just beginning her career when she first met Martinez-Pino.

From that day forward, Jaramillo told the Journal via social media, she had a friend and a mentor.

“Sandy was like a second mother to me,” Jaramillo wrote. “… I think we all have that person in our life that you can tell them anything, or if you need them they are there. That person for me was Sandy.”

Martinez-Pino’s 44-year involvement with boxing began when she volunteered, as an outgrowth of her work with the Police Athletic League, to help stage an amateur card in tiny Cebolleta, N.M.

She hated it, she said later, because “there were more fights in the crowd than in the ring.” But, rather than walk away, she decided to help make the sport better.

On the professional level, Martinez-Pino served on the New Mexico Athletic Commission, the state board that oversees the sport. At pro boxing events, she worked as a judge and as a timekeeper.

She did all this while working full time as a crime-prevention specialist for the Albuquerque Police Department.

An Albuquerque native, Martinez-Pino attended St. Mary’s High School and UNM.