High school senior Sharahya-Taina Moreu, one of the top youth amateur boxers in the world, will make her USA Boxing in the Women’s Elite Division at home in Albuquerque, March 6-10, at the 2018 USA Boxing Western Elite Qualifier and Regional Open Championships.
The 18-year-old Moreu, who plans to attend community college next year, is a 2016 USA Boxing National Champion, in addition to a four-time Native American and 2014 Gene Lewis champion. She was a silver medalist at the 2015 Junior/Youth Open and 2014/2015 Junior Olympic championships.
Boxing, her father/coach, Yoruba Moreu, the late Johnny Tapia helped her overcome the life-changing tragedy of her mother’s death in an automobile accident, forging a new path for her as a role model and 2020 Olympic hopeful. “I was only eight when my mother died,” Moreu remembered. “I was laying on her when the car-rolled and she was thrown through the back window. I was the first out of the card and on the freeway asking for help.
“I’m a better person because of that accident, though. At first, I was regretful and angry, getting in fights and on a bad path. I got into boxing, took anger management, and became motivated. I didn’t realize that I’d become a role model until girls started asking me for advice. They do look up to me and some of them I now coach.”
Moreu started boxing at the age of 12 and Tapia, the five-time, three division world champion, in addition to the 1983 and 1985 National Golden Gloves champion, had a tremendous impact on Sharahya-Taina that will remain in her heart and soul for life.
“We became like family,” Moreu said. “At first, he didn’t like girls boxing, so he worked me real hard. I was a good basketball player and he kept telling me to go play basketball. But he became a big person in my life, I think, because I had lost my mother at such a young age. He helped me in and out of the ring in so many ways. Johnny Tapia was the nicest, most humble man I’ve ever met. We became family until the gym fell apart. He only coached me about eight months, but he taught me that boxing defines you as a person, in and out of the ring. I feel safe in the ring. I’m a better person because of Johnny and boxing.”
Style-wise, Sharahya-Taina preys on her opponents’ mistakes, adjusting in the ring the same as, she says, “Just like in life.” At 5′ 10″, Moreu has a distinct height and reach advantage over most of her middleweight opponents, using those attributes, her speed and stiff jab to relentlessly pile up points.
She strongly believes that, because of Clarissa Shields’ gold-medal performances in the 2012 and 2016 Olympics, the doors are open wider for women in boxing. “I saw an American woman do what Clarissa did and become a dominant force in boxing,” Moreu remarked. “(2016 U.S. Olympian and three-time USA Boxing National Champion)) Mikaela Mayer (3-0, 2 KOs as a pro) has helped a lot, too. She signed with a good promoter (Top Rank). Boxing is slowly getting better for woman, maybe not equal to men, but there are more girls boxing today than ever before and that’s a good sign.”
Fighting at home in the Western Qualifier has a special meaning for Moreu. “I thought fighting in Albuquerque would be a lot of pressure,” she admitted, “but there’s not much pressure on me because of all the support I’m receiving. It’s easy here. Albuquerque isn’t like a big city but it’s becoming a fight town.
“I like to travel and meet different people. Last year, I represented to United States in India at the Youth Championships, and I saw another part of the world, how people trained and had different life styles. I’m turning 19 in May, so this is my first-time boxing in an Elite tournament, and it’s great doing it in my hometown.
Moreu also credits her father for a large amount of her success in the ring and life. “He’s been a single parent, but he’s always been there doing his best for me as a father and coach,” Sharahya-Taina noted. “Most people don’t know that he’s Puerto Rican, my mother a Native American (Pueblo).”
Like most young, elite athletes, Sharahya-Taina has a dream. “2020 in the Olympics,” she concluded. “I want to establish myself as an amateur and eventually go pro and have a good career.”