Christy Martin: Fighter! Promoter! Icon!

By Jill Diamond on December 25, 2016

Outside the Ring: Christy Martin

“I had the desire to show people that I could fight, if it was socially accepted or not.” (SI)

“In the ring, I wanted to be explosive and entertaining for the fans. Out of the ring I am finally finding who the real me is…”

Sports and Philanthropy: A series of articles dedicated to those who’ve given their all and still give more. Each article will feature a different community champion; no belts, no medals, no ratings… just good people passing it on.

Christy Martin, an athlete who has faced as much as a woman as a boxer. Starting at time when there were few opponents worthy of her skills, she burst through, like a comet in a midnight sky—a media darling, a household name, a woman blessed and damned by the pressures celebrity demands. Pushed beyond emotional limits by those who tried to control her, she pushed back, and won the biggest fights of her life, her authenticity and dignity intact. She redefined what it was like to be a female in a man’s sport. She did this with flying fists and tenacity, fighting every battle as it were her last. And when it was finally over, she didn’t turn away from her sport, but reached forward, and used her platform to help others.

Talent not gender should be the determining criteria. And yet, Christy was a woman left to shadow box with the future. If they do get on TV this year, if they earn enough from their sport to live decently, if they once again appear on the cover of magazines and cereal boxes, it will be too late for Christy Martin the boxer, but not Christy Martin the fighter. A Pioneer. An Icon. A World Champion. The first lady of boxing who opened doors she can no longer walk through.  But every young woman who gets into the ring will know they got their start from her. I just hope they have her courage.

You started at a time when few women boxed. What lit the fire?

I began boxing before it was acceptable for women to compete in physical contact sports. I feel I had the desire to show people that I could fight, if it was socially accepted or not. I have always been a rebel, doing things that others thought I couldn’t do successfully. After scoring my first KO victory in a Tough Man contest I was hooked on the adrenal rush that I had from such an exciting finish and the crowd’s reaction.

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