Owner/Head Trainer - Julia Gschwind

Pronouns: she / her/ hers


Julia founded Austin Women’s Boxing Club in 2007 to give women the opportunity to train in an all-woman environment; something she wished had been available to her when she was training. A native German, Julia has been training since 1996 both as a boxer and kickboxer, in Germany as well as the United States. In 2011, Julia earned her black belt in Kajukenbo under 8th degree black belt Professor Tony Morel. She also holds a purple belt in Brazilian Jiu-jitsu. Julia has lived in Austin since 2004, has two sons and enjoys biking, hiking and camping in her free time.

Certifications & Accomplishments:

  • USA Boxing “Train-the-Trainer” Bronze & Silver Clinician

  • USA Boxing Youth Coach Squad Member

  • IBA Star 1 Certification

  • AWBC Head Coach, Owner & Founder (2007)

  • Co-Founder of HeadStrong Girls’ Boxing

  • 4th Degree Black Belt, Kajukenbo, Purple Belt in Brazilian Jiujitsu

  • San Francisco Golden Gloves Champion 2000

  • Diamond Belt Champion 2002

  • State Champion (Baden-Württemberg), Germany, 1999

  • Kettlebell Concepts Level 1 Instructor

Alex Plichta

Pronouns: she / her/ hers


What started as a means of blowing off some post-work steam through boxing, quickly turned into a full on obsession. Alex’s favorite part of teaching at Austin Women’s Boxing Club is seeing students reach fitness and boxing-skill milestones that they hadn’t reached prior to taking boxing classes. Knowing that she helps contribute to their fitness journey is incredibly rewarding.


Outside of the gym, Alex enjoys hanging out with her cat, running, taking road trips, watching The Great British Bake Off, and reading graphic novels.



Certifications & Accomplishments: 

  • USA Boxing Coach – Bronze Level
  • NASM Certified Personal Trainer
  • Co-Founder of HeadStrong Girls’ Boxing
  • Boxing Accomplishments: San Antonio Golden Gloves Champion 2021, 2022, and 2023, Boxing on the Green 2021, Rumble at the Rock 2021, Capitol City Heroes 2021, Texas Women’s Championship 2021,Top Dawg Boxing Show 2022, Texas State Golden Gloves Champion 2022 and 2023, National Golden Gloves Competitor 2022 and 2023, USA Boxing National Tournament Competitor, Held National Top 10 Ranking at 139 lbs and 146 lbs.

Lu Villarreal

Pronouns: they/them/theirs


Lu is an Austin native who has studied a variety of martial arts since 2010, including traditional martial arts, submission grappling, and boxing. Lu is passionate about coaching students of all ages to feel powerful in their bodies.  As a queer and trans person of color, Lu brings a unique point of view to their self defense classes. They are active in the community giving self defense workshops for groups all around central Texas.

Outside the gym, Lu works as an advocate for survivors of sexual violence, helping people to reclaim their bodies. Lu also loves gardening and spending time in nature.

Certifications & Accomplishments:

  • B.S. in Kinesiology 

  • 1st Dan Black belt in Pyon Moo Do

  • Purple belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu

  • USA Boxing Bronze Coach

  • R.A.D. Certified Self Defense Instructor (2023)

  • Trauma-Informed Survivor Advocate

  • 3 amateur BJJ competitions (2014, 2017, 2018) 

Ashley Cummings

Pronouns: she/her/hers


Ashley started boxing during the pandemic in the outdoor classes after a friend mentioned how great the gym was. She took an intro class and was hooked right away. The gym reminded her of roller derby in the workout and everyone seemed really cool. 


She started teaching when Coach Julia put a call out for people who were interested in teaching. She’s always enjoyed helping others advance in life and enjoyed running some new girl classes during her roller derby years. She figured teaching boxing would be a fun way to give back to others and the gym. 


In her free time, she really enjoys hiking, traveling, hanging out with friends and family, and trying new things. 



Certifications & Accomplishments:

  • USA Boxing Coach – Bronze Level

Stacy “Flash” Nakell

Pronouns: she/they


Stacy has been a boxing fan throughout her life, after watching her first boxing match at the LA Olympics in 1984. She began competing as an amateur at the age of 32, and recently fought in the Masters division. She enjoys working the corner at AWBC competition team fights. She is a licensed clinical social worker, and utilizes her therapy skills to help people to overcome their fears in the gym. Stacy’s first book, Treatment for Body-Focused Repetitive Behaviors: An Integrative Psychodynamic Approach, will be available August 2022.


Certifications & Accomplishments:

  • USA Boxing Coach – Bronze Level

  • 6 Amateur Boxing Fights

Valerie Wells

Pronouns: she/her/hers


Valerie joined AWBC in the pandemic as a way maintain fitness while roller derby was on hold. She saw Coaches Alex and Palla boxing at the Rumble at the Rock 2021 Boxing Competition and thought, “I want to do that!!!”  She then started coaching with HeadStrong Girls’ Boxing. Soon after, she joined the competition team and AWBC as an instructor. Valerie loves the community at AWBC and enjoys helping students learn and grow.


Outside of the club, Valerie is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker providing therapy to kids, adults, and families. Valerie enjoys hanging with her dog and cats, watching basketball or professional wrestling with friends, roller skating, and weightlifting.


Certifications & Accomplishments:

  • USA Boxing Coach – Bronze Level

Karen Giles

Pronouns: she/her/hers


Karen watched and loved boxing since she was a little girl.  From Ali – Frazer to Sugar Ray – Duran to GGG, Mikey Garcia or Lomachenko today, she appreciates the art and science of boxing, its tactics and technique. Throughout her military career, she trained on and off with male boxers in the service; however, finding Austin Women’s Boxing Club was a dream come true. The support and positive energy from the coaches, instructors and members of the gym was powerful. When she is not working or boxing, she is having fun with her family, friends, and pups.


Certifications and accomplishments: 

  •  USA Boxing Coach – Silver Level

Po Pang

Pronouns: she/her/hers


Po’s first experience with boxing was virtually during the pandemic, so when she moved to Austin in 2021, she looked for gyms where she could try it out in real life.  She came across AWBC via a Google search, attended a Beginners Boxing Workshop, and the rest is history.  

Learning something new and the opportunity to continue to refine this skill, as well as the supportive community has kept her coming back, and eventually led her teaching.  Po’s favorite part of teaching is working with others to find the same passion and joy in boxing while also getting a good workout.  

When not at the gym, Po works on keeping her plants alive, creates spreadsheets, reads, and makes sure her dog is living her best life.


Certifications & Accomplishments:

  • USA Boxing Coach – Bronze Level

Laura Cavazos

Pronouns: she/her/hers


Laura has always been a fan of combat sports. When she was looking to learn a new skill to help build self confidence, she knew she wanted to learn boxing. The classes at AWBC were the most fun she’s ever had in a gym and she was immediately hooked. The community and support system here were unlike anything she’s ever experienced. When there was an opportunity to become an instructor, she couldn’t say no. She loves cheering on members as they build on their boxing skills. When she’s not in the gym, she loves movie nights with friends and catching up on the latest pro boxing and MMA fights.


Certifications & Accomplishments:

  • USA Boxing Coach – Bronze Level

In loving Memory

Joe Vela

Coach Vela was a former amateur champion and the last of Austin’s old school boxing coaches. He was responsible for training, coaching, and mentoring hundreds of kids who have come through the gyms he managed before coming to Austin Women’s Boxing Club in 2013.

Joe Vela trained boxers for 65 years and used to operate Austin Boxing Against Drugs (A common focus of the boxing coaches is providing something healthy for kids to do, to keep them away from crime and drugs). Vela, a former amateur champion, always had plenty of advice for boxers in and out of the ring.

Vela didn’t let his age slow him down one bit (he turned 80 in 2015). Thanks to his boxing workouts, he was in good enough shape to make it through a triple bypass surgery, followed by pancreatic cancer and being diagnosed with diabetes all within a few years. He continued to pass down his boxing knowledge to future generations for as long as possible. Coach Vela visited the gym occasionally to check on our boxers and helped with our advanced boxers and those training for competition.