Some people open doors leaving them for the rest of us to walk through. Christy Martin took women’s boxing from the tabloids to the cover of Time. It wasn’t easy then, and it still isn’t; but she fights on…
Jill: Tell me about your journey into the ring?
Christy: I started boxing on a dare. Some friends dared me to enter a toughman contest. Of course, I would be fighting women and the winner of the entire contest would recieve $1,000. I didn’t want to do it at first, but decided what the hell I will give it a try. I won the contest because I was in better condition than the other women, but the prize was only 300 for three wins. I had never boxed before, but was a big fan of Mike Tyson and Hector Camacho. After winning the toughman contest a couple years while I was in college, I had an offer for a pro fight in Bristol, TN. I did it thinking it would be a one time thing and I would always be able to the story about having a pro fight. Here we are 17 years later still trying to get a fight.
Jill: Did anyone help you?
Christy: I feel like the only person that really stuck his neck out for me was Jessie Robinson. He had worked for Don King as a trainer for many years. He saw me workout and later fight in Daytona Beach, FL and thought he could convince DK into taking a chance with me. It took a couple years to really get with King at the right time and when I went to his office he asked me to shadowbox a little and I throw a couple JC Chavez combo’s to the body and I think that sold DK.
Jill: Did anyone stand in your way?
Christy:I feel that lots of people have stood in my way. I won’t name names, but the women are the worst. I just wanted to fight in to the man’s world of boxing, just be a part of the big shows.
Jill:.How did your notoriety change your life?
Christy: It makes you feel good to be in the grocery store and someone come up and tell you how they enjoy watching your fights. It still surprises my when someone notices me. I feel that I am actually a shy person, so for someone to approach me and talk boxing is great.
Jill: Hindsight. Would you do it again?
Christy: I would do it again. It has been a great ride, like most people say I wish I would have slowed down and enjoyed every moment a little more than I did. But for someone with a degree in education for a small town in WV I have got to travel and meet some very famous people because of boxing.
Jill: What do you think would be different if you started out today?
Christy: I think it would be right back to the struggles we had in ’96 leading into the Goghary fight, because I don’t feel like anyone has come along and advanced women’s boxing past that stage.
Jill: What do you think can be done about the inequities between men and women’s boxing?
Christy: Boxing is a business and the people putting butts in the seats are going to make the money. Four and Six round women fighters make more than the men fighting on the same cards many times, but if you just had the women fighting you wouldn’t have enough people on a regular basis to support the club shows. There are not too many women fights like Ali-Martin that sold out the arena and did very well on PPV.
Jill: Do you see a future where in Women’s Boxing is Main Event on HBO?
Christy: Not right now, because there isn’t a match up out there that would command that type of exposure. If they would buy Martin-Rijker, there isn’t anything else at this time that would be interesting enough for them to bite.
Jill: How do you prepare for your bouts?
Christy: I feel like I go through the same training program as most of the men fighters. Roadwork consists of distance and sprints and the gym is lots of sparring and bag work, I have started lifting light weights, but haven’t always done that.
Jill: Who can you beat?
Christy: I still feel like I can beat anyone out there from 135- 154.
Jill: Who can beat you?
Christy: I am my toughest opponent. I sometimes get down on myself so much that I can’t pull myself out of a slump.
Jill: What does fighting for the Green Belt mean to you?
Christy: I really am only continuing my career to win the WBC title. I feel like I have had a lot of support from the Mexican fans, because I fight hard and go forward and rip to the body like one of my idols JC Chavez. It was a great honor to fight on the undercard of his fights.
Jill: Any advice to women turning pro?
Christy: It is a tough business and don’t expect to get rich, because the big paydays are not happening right now. It is important to be a lady on the outside of the ring.
Jill:.A great moment?
Christy: 1) cover of Sports Illustrated
2) Grand Marshall for International Boxing Hall of Fame in Canstota, NY in ’96
3) Signing with Don King
Jill: Asour note?
Christy: Definately getting the call that Lucia had pulled out of the fight last year.
Jill: A bad call?
Christy: I should have never gone to Albuquerque to fight Holm after the dissapointment of the Rijker fight falling out.
Jill: Do you feel you’ve made a difference?
Christy: I feel that I have made a difference and that people will at least give women fighters a chance now.
Jill: The Million Dollar Lady Fight — was it real?
Christy: I would like to think that the fight was for real. I had sparred 167 rounds with my normal sparring partner Jimmy Maloney and rounds with Valerie Mafhood and Lisa Holewyne. I was focused and in great shape.
Jill: Call the final round for us.
Christy: I think the finally round would have been round 6 and Lucia would have folded under the pressure. We had my punch count very high per round and I felt strong.
Jill: The Olympics. Do you think they’ll let the women in?
Christy: I don’t know if they will ever let the women in, because I don’t know how many women are fighting in other countries and what kind of opportunities they are being given. I think that would be the greatest thrill to fight for your country.
Jill: If they do, would you like to participate in some fashion?
Christy: Obviously, I am to old and pro so I couldn’t fight, but maybe in some other form I could be involved.
Jill: Everyone has a dream. What’s yours?
Chrsity: Right now I just hope that I get another big opportunity to show the world that I can still fight. If it doesn’t happen, I realize that I had my time