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Christy Martin
© Copyrighted photo taken by Mary Ann Owen

 
 

5'4½" junior welterweight Christy Martin from Orlando, Florida was probably the best-known female boxer in the world in the late 1990's. Her contract with promoter Don King introduced millions of pay-per-view viewers to the sight of her knocking out (mostly over-matched) opponents on the undercards of promotions featuring Mike Tyson.
 

Born on June 12 1968 in Bluefield, West Virginia, the former Christy Salters was a catcher in Little League baseball. She played basketball at Mullens High and at Concord College in Athens. While at Concord, she entered and won a Tough Woman competition on a dare. Despite having little ring experience, she was amazed by how much she enjoyed herself. After graduating with an education degree in 1991, she and her mother Joyce looked into a ring career for her. They found trainer Jim Martin at a gym in Bristol, Tennessee.

Like many trainers when first confronted with a female boxer wannabe, Jim Martin was wary of Christy. He even planned to have someone crack her ribs to discourage her. But her talent and tenacity won him over. He became her trainer, manager, public relations director ... and, finally, husband.

Christy's professional boxing career began with a five-round draw against Angela Buchanan of Australia in Bristol, Tennessee on September 9, 1989. Three weeks later in Durham, North Carolina, Christy knocked Buchanan out in the second round.

On October 21, 1989 in Bristol, Tennessee she TKO'd debut fighter Tammy Jones in the first round.

On November 4, 1989 in Bristol, Tennessee she lost a five-round decision to unbeaten Andrea DeShong of Mingo Junction, Ohio, but on April 21, 1990, again in Bristol, she reversed that result with a five-round points win over DeShong, dropping her pro record to 8-1.

On September 22, 1990 in Knoxville Tennessee, she won a six-round unanimous decision over Jamie Whitcomb, dropping her to 0-3.

On October 27, 1990 in Bristol, Tennessee, she TKO'd Lisa Holpp in the first round of Holpp's pro debut.

On January 12, 1991 in Bristol she won a five-round unanimous decision over Jamie Whitcomb who fell to 0-4 with the loss.

On February 25, 1991 in Bristol, Tennessee  she won a five-round decision over Suzanne Riccio-Major, dropping her record to 1-1-1.

On March 16, 1991 in Chattanooga, Tennessee, she TKO'd debut fighter Pat Watts in the first round, and on May 25 she dispatched pro debuter Rhonda Hefflin by first-round KO.

On September 10, 1991 in West Virginia she TKO'd Shannon Davenport, another debut fighter, in the second round.

On January 11, 1992 in West Virginia she TKO'd Rose Noble in the first round. Noble fell to 0-2, her other loss being to Andrea DeShong almost two years earlier.

Two weeks later in Daytona Beach, Florida she TKO'd Jackie Thomas in the third round, in Thomas's only pro bout.

On May 30, 1992 in Daytona Beach she won an eight-round decision over Stacy Prestage of Kansas City, Missouri who fell to 2-2-1 (1 KO).

On September 5, 1992 in Daytona Beach she TKO'd debut fighter Tracy Gordon in the first round.

On November 14, 1992 in Asheville, North Carolina, she TKO'd Angela Buchanan in the first round, dropping Buchanan's record to 1-2-2.

On January 29, 1993 in Columbia, South Carolina she TKO'd debut fighter Susie Hughes in the first round of Hughes's only fight known to me.

On May 28, 1993 in Punta Gorda, Florida she KO'd debut fighter Deborah Cruickshank in the first round. On August 27, 1983 she repeated this performance against another debut fighter, Rebecca Kirkland, this time by first-round TKO.

They moved to Orlando, Florida, where Christy's ascent to the media spotlight began when flamboyant promoter Don King saw how popular Martin was during a club fight against Texas policewoman Melinda Robinson at Miami Jai-Alai. Martin signed with King in October, 1993. 

On October 15, 1993 at the Palace of Auburn Hills, Michigan, she knocked out local fighter Beverly Szymanski in the third round.

Her 1994 fights took her to Las Vegas, where she earned first-round TKO's over Sonja Donlevy on January 29 and Susie Melton on March 4. It was a different story when she fought Mexican lightweight champion Laura Serrano on the undercard of a Chavez-Randall title bout at the MGM Grand on May 7, 1994. Christy earned a controversial draw over six rounds in a bout that many feel Serrano won.  Christy's stock rose some more when she TKO'd Chicago veteran Chris Kreuz in the fourth round at the Silver Nugget on September 12, 1994.

She only fought twice in the next year, knocking out Beverly Szymanski in the fourth round in Las Vegas on April 1 and TKO'ing perennial opponent Angela Buchanan in the second round in Las Vegas on August 12, dropping Buchanan to 0-4-2.  A first-round TKO of debut fighter Erica Schmidlin of Dearborn, Michigan followed on December 12, 1995 at the Spectrum in Philadelphia.

On January 13, 1996 in Miami she won a six-round decision over Melinda Robinson.

She stopped former state of Ohio kickboxing champion Sue Chase 0:27 into the third round in a Showtime card on February 10 1996, using a combination of straight rights and stinging left hooks.

Martin vs. GogartyMartin became a media star through the bloody nose she was given by her most serious opponent in 1996, Irish featherweight Deirdre Gogarty. The unanimous six-round decision for Christy Martin on March 16 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas earned Martin recognition by the World Boxing Council as its nominal women's lightweight champion of the world (they did not offer women's title belts for open competition).

The fight's real significance was that it was easily the highlight on the undercard of a disappointing men's heavyweight title bout (Mike Tyson vs. British boxer Frank Bruno). The Martin-Gogarty battle was seen in an estimated 30 million homes and in over 100 countries! Gogarty fell to 11-5-2 with the loss.

Martin relies on strength, aggression and relentless pressure to overwhelm her opponents. Gogarty, a skilled boxer, found holes in  Martin's defense and bloodied Christy's nose but was unable to blunt the heavier boxer's attack. It was a boxer-slugger confrontation, with the slugger winning.

The image of the bloodied Martin battling to outpoint Gogarty (who recovered from a knockdown to make an exciting fight of it) brought more attention to women's boxing than any other single event before or since. It took the sight of a female boxer bleeding like a stuck pig while winning her fight that put our sport on the world's media radar in 1996!

On September 7, 1996 at the MGM Grand she knocked out Melinda Robinson in the fourth round, dropping Robinson's pro record to 2-5.

On November 9, 1996 she TKO'd the unskilled and untrained Bethany Payne of Atlanta, Georgia in the first round.

Christy next got into the first of several contract disputes with King. King pulled her from a card in Nashville, Tennessee, saying that she had been cut in training.  Martin denied that she had been hurt, but she was replaced with Deirdre Gogarty. (The bout was a laugher as Deirdre kayoed Debra Stroman in the first round). This circus had the aura of a publicity stunt, but was resolved when King signed Martin to a new five-fight contract in time for Christy to be scheduled on the undercard of the infamous Holyfield-Tyson fight in which Tyson bit off part of Holyfield's ear.

June 28th 1997 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas was supposed to be the biggest fight night of the decade in men's boxing ... so who would showcase women's boxing on the undercard against Christy?  Not the feared Lucia Rijker, who could have made it the women's fight of the decade!  Instead, Christy's opponent, arranged about a week before fight night, was her old rival Andrea DeShong.

Andrea De Shong was more of a challenge for Christy than most of her opponents had been since Serrano or Gogarty. She had been the younger Martin's nemesis in 1989, but she had retired from pro boxing after losing by a controversial decision in the rematch with Christy in 1990. DeShong returned to competition after seeing the attention given to the Martin-Gogarty fight and she made no secret that she wanted to fight Christy again. But her comeback had not gone well, as she lost to then-inexperienced Kathy Collins and was stopped in seven rounds by Britain's Jane Couch.

Christy bloodied by Andrea DeShongChristy followed Jane Couch's script against DeShong to the letter. She worked Andrea's body early, watched her tire, and then took pot shots at her through the sixth and seventh to earn a TKO. As in the Gogarty fight, Christy's nose was badly bloodied early on. DeShong had some good defensive skills, but wasn't ready to outlast Christy over ten. This fight reportedly earned Christy $150,000, then a record purse for women's boxing.

Christy's next fight was August 23, 1997 against Atlanta's Isra Girgrah (8-1-1, 5 KOs) over eight rounds in Madison Square Garden, this time at two weeks' notice. The only blemishes on Girgrah's record were a loss to Deirdre Gogarty in her pro debut, and a draw with Andrea DeShong. All five of Girgrah's KO wins had occurred inside of three rounds. Girgrah gave Christy a huge fight despite taking an eight count and being badly bloodied in the early going. Isra outboxed a frustrated Martin in the late going. and the decision, while unanimous for Christy, was roundly booed.

Christy (140¼  lbs) next won a unanimous (99-90,99-90,100-90) 10-round decision over Marcela Acuña (140 lbs) of Formosa, Argentina on December 5, 1997 at Florida's Pompano Beach Amphitheater. Acuña was making her debut as a pro boxer at age 21 but had some experience as a kickboxer. Martin, fighting in her home state for the first time in over a year, had promised her fans a knockout. She came close in Round Ten, when she dropped Acuña with a left-right combination to the head. Martin controlled Acuña with her right and landed good flurries to her head and body early in the fight. Acuña's best moments were in Rounds Three and Four when she landed well to Martin's head. But Martin connected with a strong right in the fifth and Acuña's eye began to swell. Martin was rarely in difficulty in the late going but could not land solidly enough to put Acuña away. The closest that Martin came was in the final round when she dropped Acuña with a left-right combination to the head. Acuña put in a game performance in what was clearly a mismatch (and went on to win the WIBA junior featherweight world title in December 2003)

Christy was set to fight Belgium's Daniëlla Somers in Mexico City on March 7, 1998 but the bout was scuttled a few days earlier when the city authorities exhumed a 1947 law forbidding women to fight professionally. (Christy used the cancellation to take a verbal swipe at Lucia Rijker, saying that Lucia could still fight on that card despite the no-women rule!)

Christy's next appearance also ran into unexpected problems ... she was set to fight Mexico's Maria de las Nieves Garcia at Madison Square Garden on June 6, 1998 on the undercard of Holyfield vs. Akinwande, but Garcia tested pregnant two days before the fight. Scrambling to find a replacement, organisers suggested undefeated Miami lightweight Melissa Salamone. Melissa had said she was ready to fight Martin since she turned pro and was a former New York Golden Gloves champion and national amateur titleist; her brother, Lou Del Valle, was on the men's card. Martin refused to fight Salamone before another possibly hostile crowd at Madison Square Garden, and tried to line up relatively unknown Cheryl Nance instead. Soon after this, the card was cancelled when Henry Akinwande tested positive for Hepatitis-B, nixing the main event.

On August 29, 1998 at the Hilton in Las Vegas she stopped Cheryl Nance (139½ lbs) of Winston-Salem, North Carolina, by TKO at 0:41 of the ninth round in a scheduled ten-round (non-title) bout. Nance came into this fight with a record of 4-1 with 4 KO's and gave Christy a fairly good fight before the bout was stopped (for reasons that were not evident to most at ringside).

On September 19, 1998 at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta, she stopped Christine Robinson of Sylva, North Carolina, in the fifth round of a scheduled ten-rounder with a barrage of punches to the head. Christine Robinson's pro record coming into this bout was 1-1!

Christy's next scheduled fight was in Las Vegas against Sumya Anani in November 1998. Anani was then an 11-0 fighter from Kansas City whose only strong opponents had been Stacy Prestage and Andrea DeShong. Martin pulled out of this fight at the last minute, citing an unspecified illness. Behind the scenes it was clear that this was yet another contract dispute. Christy was well enough to throw a tantrum in which she almost assaulted Anani's manager (after he suggested that she was ducking his fighter.)
 


Sumya Anani vs. Christy Martin  on December 18, 1998

Their showdown finally came at the War Memorial Auditorium in Fort Lauderdale, Florida on December 18, 1998. Anani (138¾ lbs) bloodied Martin's nose in the first round and traded with her on equal terms in the second. Martin went down in the second, but referee Tommy Kimmons ruled it a slip. Anani went after her hard in the third, staggering her and handing out punishment with Martin reeling against the ropes. Martin rallied in the fourth to rock Anani with strong rights to the head. Martin continued strong in the fifth and sixth and tried to outbox Sumya in the seventh but Anani made her own comeback in the eighth and ninth, fearlessly moving forward, landing heavily and backing Martin up. Anani finished strongly and when it was all over a battered and weary Martin sported a bloody nose and a swollen right eye while Anani was almost unmarked. Judge Stu Winston scored the fight 95-95. Jay Kassees and Ric Bays scored it 96-94 for Anani, handing Martin her first loss since November 1989!

[Video pt 1] [Video pt 2] [Video pt 3] [Video pt 4]

[The result did not surprise the 152 visitors who took a Women's Boxing Page prefight poll. They called it as close as it came out: 51% favored Martin to win, 49% favored Anani!]

"It wasn't my night", Martin said after the Anani fight. "I didn't feel like I could win even when I got to the arena. I'm not taking anything away from her. She's a good fighter. But it was a head butt that cut me earlier. And when she knocked me down, it was with elbows and arms and wasn't a clean shot." 

In a tearful interview after losing to Anani, Martin said that she might retire unless she could fight Lucia Rijker.  But on April 24, 1999 at the MCI Center in Washington, D.C., she instead padded her record by stopping Jovette Jackson at 0:36 of the first round. Martin floored Jackson 0:15 into the contest. then delivered five roundhouse punches in a row to end it.

On October 2, 1999 at the Hilton in Las Vegas, Martin weighed in at 143 lbs (above the contracted-for 140 lbs), then dominated IWBF Junior Welterweight Champion Daniëlla Somers (138½ lbs) of Brecht, Belgium for five rounds before winning by TKO at 1:37 of the fifth. Martin landed powerful rights from the opening bell. One of these turned Somers around and left the IWBF champion hanging on the ropes for the TKO. "I can't believe it was this easy," Martin said in a post-fight interview. "I knew I had her from the very first punch I threw." Christy went on to say that she was ready to fight Lucia Rijker. Somers dropped to 9-3-0. 


Christy vs. Belinda Laracuente
© Copyrighted photo taken by Sandy Goldberg

On March 3, 2000 at Caesar's Palace in Las Vegas, Martin weighed in at 140 lbs and won a controversial eight-round majority decision over Belinda Laracuente (also 140 lbs) of Mayaguez, Puerto Rico. There were boos as judges Carol Castellano and Patricia Jarman-Manning had it 77-75 for Martin while judge Dave Moretti had it 76-76. Martin was generally the aggressor and worked Laracuente's body but she was often beaten to the punch as Laracuente landed telling blows to her head while backing up. When Martin tried to punch in flurries she often had trouble finding the range against the elusive Laracuente, who is skilled at getting in, doing damage, then getting out quickly. Martin admitted after the fight that Laracuente, whose record fell to 17-4-1, was "probably the best skilled boxer, mover and runner I have seen", adding that "the running style didn't work for Oscar De La Hoya and it didn't work for her."  (See also reviews from our visitors and fight pictures and the illustrated fight report by Sue TL Fox).

Some of Martin's problems in the Laracuente fight were later attributed to a swollen right foot resulting from a fracas with Lucia Rijker a few days earlier during a workout session by WBA champion David Reid at the Los Angeles Boxing Gym.   Martin was completing a television interview in front of about 500 fans and media.when Rijker showed up. A melee ensued with both women throwing punches. During the incident, assistant trainer Jeff Bailey accidentally stepped on Martin's right foot and she needed a steroid shot to combat the swelling. "Lucia can sit back and laugh and be happy she caused me to have a tougher fight than I should have had," Martin told Orlando sportswriter George Diaz, "but bottom line is that I tried to fight and put on a good show for the people." 


Christy Martin vs. Dianna Lewis
© Copyrighted photo taken by Mary Ann Owen

On August 12, 2000 at the Paris Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, Martin won a ten-round unanimous (100-90) decision over Dianna Lewis of Indianapolis, Indiana, who fell to 9-2-1.

On December 2, 2000 at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas, Christy weighed in at 145 lbs and stopped Sabrina Hall (145½ lbs) of Grafton, Ohio by TKO just 1:05 into the first of a scheduled eight rounder. Martin decked Hall with a right and the fight was stopped as Hall wobbled to her feet. Hall fell to 10-2-1.


vs. Jeanette Martinez in March 2001

On March 3, 2001 at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas, Christy weighed in at 144½ lbs and moved to 42-2-2 (31 KO's) with a ten-round unanimous (97-93,98-92,99-91) decision over IBA Lightweight champion Jeanne Martinez (5'4", 145 lbs) of Slidell, Louisiana. Martin started the fight cautiously but landed a hard straight right hand in the opening round, and beat Martinez to the punch. Martinez didn't seem fazed as Martin began to use more combinations in the second, blocking and countering   with hard body shots. Martin picked up the pace in the third and fourth but the more pressure she applied to Martinez, the more Jeanette stood ready to go toe to toe with her. Martinez was reprimanded for a low blow in the third. By the fifth, both began to look weary. Martinez landed a good combination to Martin's head, and Martin fought more cautiously. Martinez looked exhausted by the end of the sixth and the following rounds were sloppy with both missing and telegraphing their shots. Martin landed a hard right in the ninth but both finished the fight with a furious flurry in the tenth. Martinez slipped to 13-5-2 (4 KO's) with the loss. [See full fight report by Sue TL Fox]

On May 12, 2001 at Madison Square Garden in New York City, Christy (144 lbs) moved her record to 43-2-2 (31 KO's) with a ten-round majority (98-92,97-93,95-95) decision over Kathy Collins (5'5", 142¼ lbs) of Plainview, New York. Both landed their share of bombs in a rugged fight but Martin's experience showed as she outhit and outboxed Collins in most rounds. (Martin fought more cautiously than usual but she threw 463 punches to Collins's 370 and connected with 38% compared to Collins's 28%.) The crowd became restless in the later rounds as the fighters tired, but both landed hard in the third, fifth and sixth. Martin had predicted a win by KO but she told the New York Daily News after the bout: "I knew she (Collins) was going to be there for the long haul. Frankly, the only thing I was concerned with before the fight was that the judges were not all from New York." Lucia Rijker sat in on TVKO's commentary on the bout!

On November 17, 2001 at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas, Nevada, Christy (144 lbs) moved her record to 44-2-2 (31 KOs) with a 10-round unanimous (99-91,98-92,98-92) decision over WIBF welterweight champion Lisa Holewyne (146 lbs) of Crawford, Texas. Martin fought one of her best fights to slip many of Holewyne's punches and control her with combinations. Martin also rocked the Texan several times with her patented booming right. Still, Holewyne put up a good fight throughout an entertaining bout. Holewyne fell to 14-8-1 (6 KOs) with the loss.

On December 6, 2002 at the Silverdome in Pontiac, Michigan, Christy (144 lbs) returned to the ring after a year away and won a ten-round unanimous (97-93,97-93,99-91) decision over Mia St. John of Calabasas, California. St. John, who had fought from featherweight to junior welterweight had bulked up to 140½ lbs for this fight but was able to withstand a constant stream of body shots from Martin to go the distance. St. John spent the early part of the fight in retreat, but made it more competitive as the bout progressed. At the end of the fourth round, they traded fast-paced combinations and St. John appeared to be gaining confidence that she could stand up to Martin's power. St. John landed her own best shot ... a hard right .. midway through the bout in the fifth round, but Martin laughed it off. St. John endured the barrage from Martin better than expected, and fought back effectively at times, but Martin's constant aggression and superior punching power made the decision an easy one. "I stunk tonight because I was so rusty," Martin told the Associated Press after the fight. "But give Mia credit. No one thought she had a chance and she showed a lot of heart out there. She gave me a lot of trouble with her movement." St. John slipped to 26-2-1 (13 KO) with the loss.

After the fight, Lucia Rijker jumped into the ring and challenged Martin.

The bout appeared to be in jeopardy the evening before when Martin threatened to pull out of it because she had not received a $200,000 advance; promoter Peter Klamka of Ann Arbor denied that this was required by her contract and charged that Martin had done too little to help publicize the fight. The dispute continued after the bout, which attracted less than 500 live fans, was over. St. John was reportedly paid the $100,000 she was promised, while the promoter claimed that Martin breached her contract.

On August 23, 2003 at Mississippi Coast Coliseum and Convention Center, Biloxi, Mississippi, Laila Ali (5'10", 162 lbs) knocked out Martin (officially 159 lbs, but see below) at 0:48 in the fourth round. The scheduled ten-rounder was for the IBA super middleweight title. Martin charged out to start the fight and both landed heavily in the opening round but Ali staggered Martin against the ropes at the end of the session and Martin ended the round already red and swollen under her left eye. Ali again rocked Martin early in the second. Martin came back to land some shots near the end of the second but Ali knocked her down in the third with a string of quick hard uppercuts. Martin was dropped by a rapid-fire barrage of leather in the fourth and could not beat the count. Martin hadn't been able to counter Ali's reach advantage and get to within range to land combinations that might have slowed Ali down. "She was just too big," said Martin afterwards, adding, "she was in great shape and she kept on coming. She still fights like an amateur, but all around she was just too big." Ali conceded that "Christy is tough, but I'm definitely stronger than her. She cracked me, but she didn't hurt me." [Fight Photos]

Ali improved her record to 16-0-0 (13 KO) with the win while while Martin fell to 45-3-2 (31 KO) with her first loss by knockout.

Martin's participation in this bout earned her $250,000. The fight was billed as the "superfight" of women's boxing to determine who was "the Greatest" ... but its credentials were dubious because of the physical mismatch. 

Christy Martin at weighin for Ali fightThe actual weight discrepancy may have been much larger than was recorded at the weigh-in. I've been told that Martin may only have been 147 lbs on fight night. I feel strongly that fighters should not be allowed to weigh in wearing bulky clothing like the combat fatigues that Martin showed up in. This fight might not have taken place if the Mississippi commission had applied more reasonable standards. 

Martin, who had been the beneficiary of some mismatches early in her own career, evidently misjudged what she was getting herself into in this one. She had certainly been eager for the match to take place, saying before it "Laila is a spoiled, stuck-up brat who thinks she's better than anyone else. She wears a tiara, not a title belt and it's time someone like me knocked her out. She ain't her daddy." Ali's size and skills were no secret, however, so it's clear that Martin walked into her worst defeat with her eyes open.

On April 20, 2005 at Isle of Capri Casino in Lula, Mississippi, USA, Christy returned to the ring to prepare for a possible upcoming bout with Lucia Rijker. She weighed in at 144 lbs and knocked out Lana Alexander (134½ lbs) of Nashville, Tennessee at 1:10 in the second round of a scheduled six-rounder. Alexander fell to 2-7-0 (1 KO) while Martin improved her record to 46-3-2 (32 KO).

The name of Lucia Rijker had loomed over Christy Martin for a long time. Several attempts were made, including one with a proposed $1.5 million purse (and an extra million offered to Don King for the promotional rights), to match them in the late 1990's, but Christy's handlers showed no interest in this bout in 1998 even though Rijker agreed to it on a "winner-take-all" basis. Christy's public reply to Rijker's challenge was a jibe about the muscular Rijker not being female.

Maybe that jibe was fight promotion at work, raising the stakes and anticipation for an eventual showdown ... but it reached the point where many women's boxing enthusiasts felt that Christy was running scared of a superior fighter, and that her barbs about Lucia's gender were a smoke screen for a no-show.  The talk of a Martin-Rijker showdown began again in 2001, this time around a possible bout in October-December. Martin sounded more like she wanted a fight this time, telling SecondsOut.com that she guarantees a Rijker KO!

But it was only after Martin had been supplanted by Laila Ali as the sport's media icon, and after a period of prolonged inactivity (and repeated fight cancellations) by Rijker, that the promotional stars finally aligned in favor of the Martin vs. Rijker matchup.  The key was Rijker's role as an advisor and as an on-screen villain in 2005's Oscar-winning movie "Million Dollar Baby". This sparked more interest in women's boxing and brought some media attention back to Lucia.  Bob Arum decided it was time to strike while the buzz was hot and parlayed the "winner take all" idea into "Million Dollar Lady", a deal whereby both fighters would be guaranteed $250,000 but the winner would earn an extra $750,000 to make the first individual million dollar payout in women's sport history. While close to the deal that had failed to turn into a Martin-Rijker fight in 1997, it brought Rijker and Martin to sign a contract for a bout in Las Vegas on July 30, 2005.   Unfortunately, Rijker withdrew from this bout after suffering an injury in training. 


Christy Martin loses to Holly Holm in September 2005
© Copyrighted photo by Mary Ann Owen

While waiting for Rijker to get ready for a possible alternate date, Christy accepted a $75,000 purse to fight IBA Junior Welterweight champion Holly Holm of Albuquerque, New Mexico. On September 16, 2005 at the Isleta Casino near Albuquerque, before a sellout crowd of 3000, the southpaw Holm (5'8", 142½ lbs) won a clear 10-round unanimous (100-92,98-92,100-92) decision over Christy (141½ lbs) in a non-title Main Event.  According to Chris Cozzone of New Mexico Boxing, "Holm made it look easy; made the legendary Martin look amateurish."  Martin saw it differently, telling George Diaz of the Orlando Sentinel: "She didn't box. She ran. She didn't hit me 10 times ... it was like trying to fight a kangaroo."  Martin, however, had been unable to exercise her fight plan, which she'd summed up before the fight as “I hear she moves a lot. I’ve never seen her fight, but I expect she’s going to feel bigger than me because of her height. She’s a pretty broad girl, too, so I’m expecting her to come and jump at me. I just have to get inside—that’s where her advantages go out the window.”

On October 6, 2006 at the Coeur d'Alene Casino in Worley, Idaho, Christy returned to the ring for a 10-rounder with Angel Martinez of Dallas, Texas, who had had three close fights with Holly Holm (two losses and a majority draw). The aggressive, hard-hitting Martinez handed Martin another loss, this time by a unanimous 97-96, 97-93, 96-94 decision. Martin fell to 46-5-2 (31 KO's) while Martinez improved to 6-2-1 (1 KO). 

On July 18, 2008 at the Reliant Arena in Houston, Texas
Christy Martin (
154¼ lbs) and Valerie Mahfood (160 lbs) of Beaumont, Texas, fought to an eight round majority (78-74 Martin, 75-75,75-75) draw. According to the Houston Chronicle, Martin displayed her boxing technique from the opening bell, connecting with combinations that caused Mahfood to stumble and “Boos engulfed the arena at the end of the fight”. Martin stated in a post fight interview that she felt that she won every round, and that she had landed the bigger shots. The result moved Martin's record to 47-5-3 (31 KO's) and Mahfood's to 19-14-4 (9 KO's).

On August 1, 2009 at Veterans Memorial Field House in Huntington, West Virginia, Christy Martin (157 lbs) won a close six-round split (58-56, 56-58,57-56) decision over Cimberly Harris (157 lbs) of Tampa, Florida, who fell to 5-14 (0 KO's).

On September 2, 2009 at the Mohegan Sun Grandstand, Syracuse, New York Christy Martin,(153 lbs) won a 10-round majority (95-95,98-92,99-91) decision over Dakota Stone (153 lbs) of Seattle, Washington for the WBC Middleweight title.  Stone fell to 9-8-5 (1 KO) with the loss while Martin advanced to 49-5-3 (31 KO's).  Martin broke her right hand throwing an overhand right in the final round of this match.

In November 2010 Christy Martin was stabbed and shot in her home and her husband was later charged with attempted murder.  Martin recovered from multiple injuries sustained in this attack with renewed determination to notch her 50th professional win.  Promoter Bob Arum offered her a rematch with Dakota Stone, for which Christy was preparing when she injured a rib while training in April 2011.  

The rematch took place on June 4 2011 at the Staples Center in Los Angeles. Christy Martin weighed in at 149¾ lbs and Dakota Stone at 149 lbs. Martin was reportedly ahead on the scorecards by 48-46, 49-46, and 48-46 when the referee stopped the bout on the doctor's advice in the sixth and final round. Martin had reportedly broken three bones in her right hand in the fourth round while landing an overhand right.  She tried to fight using only her left hand. She had sent Stone to the canvas in the fourth but she pulled up visibly hurt after throwing a right hand that connected in the first minute of the sixth. Martin winced and tucked her right hand under her left arm. That prompted  the ring doctor to advise that the fight be stopped, resulting in a TKO win for Dakota Stone at 1:09 in the sixth. Stone progressed to 10-8-5 (2 KO's) with this result while Martin slipped to 49-6-3 (31 KO's).

Martin vs St John

Chrity Martin vs Mia St.John in August 2012
© Copyrighted photo by Mary Ann Owen

On August 14, 2012 at Table Mountain Casino in Friant, California, USA, Mia St. John (146 lbs) of California won a ten-round unanimous (97-93,96-94,96-94) decision over Christy (150¼ lbs) for the WBC Junior Middleweight belt. Martin, who had been attacked and shot by her former husband in 2010, had said she was looking for her 50th pro win before she retired from the ring - but St.John had the better boxing skills in this rematch of two veterans who had fought each other before in 2002.  St.John moved well in the early rounds then was willing to mix it up with a visibly tiring Martin in the later going.  The final round saw Martin drop her hands as if daring St.John to try to knock her out; St.John landed a long series of punches with little visible effect on Martin, then eased off and embraced her at the final bell.  "We started together, we're ending together" said St.John while Martin observed that "Father Time has called my day".  St.John, who indicated - again - that this would also be her last pro fight, advanced to 47-11-2 (18 KO's) as Martin ended her career at 49-7-3 (31 KO's).

Christy had stated that she fought only for herself and not for any broader goals of gender equity in the sport, but there is no question that she and Deirdre Gogarty together made women's boxing a media event in the 1990's, nor that the media attention gathered by their exciting PPV fight helped to draw other women into the ring in large numbers, enabling the rapid growth of the sport in the early 2000's. 

When Christy Martin began boxing, the women's pro sport got little publicity. That was changed, perhaps forever, by the attention gathered by her early televised fights.  Her long winning streak was helped by shrewd selection of opponents, and the lightweight title she held for much of it was never opened to real world-wide competition.  But she's earned a clear place in women's boxing history as the brawler who re-lit the flame of media attention to the sport in the 1990's. 

Links to other news and pictures of Christy Martin

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Page last updated:Saturday December 15, 2012

 
     
     
     
     
 

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