A Look Into the Life of a Fighter’s Wife: Featuring Gabriella Belmontes

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    Belmontes familyIn today’s world of instant coverage, fighters are covered from almost every angle. We are aware of more fighters, and we have more access to each fighter than ever before, but there are some missing elements to the coverage.

    A few years ago, ThaBoxingVoice featured several stories about the wives of fighters. They highlighted their experiences, difficulties, and joys related to the fight game through their husbands.

    I loved these stories and decided to reintroduce that idea for ThaBoxingVoice.com to give fans the chance to get a fuller look at the participants of the sport we love. After all, a fighter’s family is typically the most defining thing about them. I will attempt to shed some light on the life of the fighter’s wife in a mini-series of stories featured each month.

    I decided to start with the wife of Jerry Belmontes, who fights this Saturday in the co-feature of a Fox Deportes card. Belmontes is facing Dierry Jean in his backyard of Montreal, Quebec, Canada at the Bell Centre.

    Jean is a tough fight for Belmontes, but he has been in this particular situation before and come up big. The Belmontes family has been through a lot to get to this point and as Saturday approaches you will realize the struggle has not just been Jerry’s. Gabriella, Jerry’s wife, has an equal amount of joy and pain invested into the sport of boxing as well.

    Gabriella Belmontes met her husband in high school when they were both sophomores. If you ask Jerry, he’ll tell you that the couple’s first interaction came during breakfast at a local Mexican food restaurant named Taqueria Jalisco when a group of mutual friends decided that 1st period could wait.

    But it wasn’t love at first sight for the future Mrs. Belmontes. In fact, she recalls her first impressions of Jerry as being annoying, and he wasn’t her type at all. However, Jerry would eventually get the opportunity to change her mind because he and Gabriella shared mutual friends, which meant plenty of face time with his future wife.

    After some time, the two grew close, and it didn’t take long for Jerry to introduce his original love to Gabi, which was his love for boxing.

    Jerry was an accomplished amateur boxer with serious accolades. Jerry came from a boxing family, so his dedication was instilled in him at an early age through family values.

    Gabi didn’t know much about boxing, although her father was a big fan and would force his daughters to watch boxing with him.

    Still, Gabi wasn’t familiar with the pure dedication demanded of young fighters in the amateur program. She misinterpreted Jerry’s dedication to his craft as a lack of feelings for her, unaware of the amount of time he spent in the gym. When Jerry wouldn’t call because he was at the gym training, Gabi took it as “mixed signals,” although he would always make her a priority when he could.

    Gabi eventually caught on to the lifestyle of a fighter and recalls watching him in an amateur fight for the first time. Jerry had been talking himself up for a few weeks leading up to his debut in front of her. At first, she was a bit skeptical of his talent and thought he may have been bragging in an attempt to impress her.

    “He told me he was an amateur fighter and that he was really invested in it,” Mrs. Belmontes told ThaBoxingVoice. “He would tell me about the fights he won and the places he’d [travel to] for fights. I actually thought he had a big head. I ended up going to see him fight, and he was really great.”

    The high school sweethearts eventually got married in October of last year. They have two boys named Gavin (5 yrs. old) and Jerry Jax (2 yrs. old).

    That brings us to the present and heading into Jerry’s big fight against Jean. A win could propel Jerry back into the mix amongst the division’s elite, which is a position he was in last year. Belmontes has had some incredible ups, as well as some difficult downs, but his wife has been by his side the entire time.

    As previously mentioned, the fight will be broadcasted on Fox Deportes (9 p.m. CT)., which is fortunate for Mrs. Belmontes, although she admits watching his fights are bittersweet.

    Of course, she enjoys watching her husband do what he loves, but like most family member spectators she hates seeing him hurt. She recalled the first time she saw Jerry cut, which drove her to near hysterics.

    “I honestly don’t like [watching his fights as much]; I’m not as excited as I used to be when he fights. It’s scary. I remember the first time he actually got cut, and he had blood running down his face and I wanted to run into the ring and pull him out. I had to have people hold me and tell me ‘no, he’s fine, he’s still fighting.’ I honestly don’t like it, but I don’t like not watching it, either.”

    As difficult as it is watching her husband on TV, it is even worse when Jerry is competing off television because her imagination takes over and offers up much worse scenarios. Luckily, Gabi’s family is supportive, and she often has the entire family over to help get her through the day. The kids offer a distraction, but it is more out of necessity than anything else.

    Mrs. Belmontes has a strong support system. Her parents traveled to watch Jerry’s fights in the past, even when Gabi had to stay home with the boys. Still, it is important for the Belmontes family to stay united and remain dependent on one another.

    The noblest thing about the couple is their dedication to each other. Jerry is the fighter because he competes in a boxing ring, but Mrs. Belmontes is a fighter as well, although I’m not sure she even realizes it.

    For Jerry to make a living at the hardest sport in the world, she has to fight. She fights to keep her kids loved when dad can’t be home. She fights the selfish feelings that a spouse has when her husband is not at home because he’s at the gym. She fights to keep her fear in check so that their boys see a brave face. She is a fighter.

    That is where the boxer draws his motivation, from the unsuspecting spouse. Jerry knows that his wife is making sacrifices, and that keeps him motivated. Without the foundation created by Gabi, Jerry wouldn’t be able to focus on the many tasks at hand. Gabi allows Jerry to fight without worries.

    Imagine that, going into a fight without a major worry because your spouse willingly accepts the burden?

    The nobleness of this relationship isn’t one-sided, not at all. In fact, Mrs. Belmontes says that her husband is something of a hero to her. The way she explains it, her admiration for Jerry is based on the idea that it takes real courage to follow a dream, especially in today’s world.

    “Boxing is Jerry’s passion; he loves it so much. I look at him, and I admire him so much how he went out and had a dream. Of course I hope he wins, and if it takes him further and further, that’s wonderful. Of course, it’ll take away his time here at home, but he’s not going to be young forever. I look up to him because not many people have a dream that they get to do.”

    Her respect for her husband’s effort reached an all-time high when, not too long ago, Jerry took Gabi to the gym. She got to experience a small extent of what Jerry does every day during fight camp.

    Mrs. Belmontes’ new found respect came after realizing she was unable to complete the workout. It also made her aware of those times when Jerry can pull himself together after returning home from the gym to spend time with the family.

    Today, Mrs. Belmontes understands the fight game better than she ever has. She knows that the more success Jerry achieves, the more time and effort he’ll have to dedicate to the sport, which means less time at home. They’ve talked about retirement, but she feels like every conversation enables Jerry to push the date further into the future.

    For now, she stays supportive by being there for her fighter husband. Jerry doesn’t do anything in the sport without talking it over with his wife, and Gabi is appreciative of the fact that he keeps her involved.

    As Belmontes prepares for the trip to Canada, Mrs. Belmontes prepares herself for the questions from their children wondering where daddy is and having to explain that dad’s office is a squared circle in Canada. She’ll prepare her nerves for the fight, but she knows she will have to stay strong for her kids.

    For Jerry to succeed, he must focus on his one job Saturday. He must, for a moment, put all things aside and concentrate on his role as a fighter at the world-class level.

    For him to do that, Mrs. Belmontes must assume two roles. She has to be the wonderful mother she is to her two boys, but she also has to be a fill-in father, if only for the day.

    It is a tough job being a fighter, but if you consider everything the wife goes through then there just may be one job that is tougher.

    **Note: Special thanks to Jacqueline Purcell, who was the original writer of the past series, for all of her helpful insight and guidance.