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© Copyrighted photo by Patricia Butaud / Janis Guidry


5'10" super middleweight Erin Toughill was born on June 13, 1977 in Chicago, Illinois.  She competes as a professional boxer and in mixed martial arts (freestyle) and Brazilian jiu jitsu.

She began kickboxing at age 18 and Brazilian jiu jitsu at age 20.  She says that she started training to get a good work out and to learn self-defense, then realized that she was very good at what she was doing and agreed to compete when her trainer asked her if she was interested.

She had her first professional MMA fight on September 27, 1999 battling Irma Verhoef of Holland to a draw at the WVC 9-World Vale Tudo Championship at the Havana Beach Club in Aruba. Erin says that this was her hardest MMA bout. Verhoef had had only two or three MMA fights but had a long experience as a kickboxer.  Erin told  Benny Henderson of Doghouse Boxing: "She was a brute. We fought for one 15-minute round and ... I was happy that I did so well with someone of that caliber. It was a great learning experience and I knew I had a future in this sport. I also knew that if I wanted to keep doing this, I would actually have to train!"

Erin made her debut as a pro boxer on July 20, 2000 at the Marriot Hotel in Irvine, California, weighing in at 166 lbs and losing a four-round unanimous (40-36) decision to another debut fighter, Elizabeth Rumpf (163¾ lbs). Of her inauspicious debut, Toughill said later "Along with not training properly, I also had a kick boxer teaching me how to box. The training for boxing is so different compared to MMA. I think, no I know, I just wasn't prepared". 

On August 26, 2000 at the Selland Arena in Fresno, California, Erin (164 lbs) won a four-round unanimous (40-36,40-36,40-35) decision over pro debut fighter Coreena Grizoffi (169½ lbs) of Fresno.

On October 7, 2000 at Centennial Garden Arena in Bakersfield, California, Erin (168 lbs) won a four-round majority  (38-38, 39-37,40-36) decision over pro debuter Veronica Sanchez (178 lbs) of Los Angeles. Toughill used her reach advantage to keep Sanchez away with snapping left jabs early in the fight. When Sanchez worked her way past Toughill's jab, she was unable to do much with the opportunity, according to a ringside correspondent.


Erin (left) vs. Elina Rodina in December 2000

On December 5, 2000 at ReMIx-World Cup 2000, Erin won a split decision over Elina Rodina (230 lbs) of Russia but then lost to 6'3" 330-lb Svetlana Gundarenko of Russia by a submission (choke).  According to Toughill: "I had some problems when I fought Rodina, mostly with the takedowns. I wasn't prepared that well for those fights. I could have done much better. I have all new trainers and have been working on my weaknesses for quite some time now. I used my punching skills a lot with Rodina."

On May 3, 2001 at Remix-Golden Gate 2001, Erin defeated Megumi Yabushita of Japan by TKO with an arm bar at 3:08 in the second round.

On July 27, 2001 at the MMA W-Fusion 2001 event, she won a unanimous decision over Kaori Ito of Japan after three five-minute rounds.

On December 6, 2001 at the Palace Indian Gaming Center in Lemoore, California, Erin (163 lbs) battled to a four-round majority draw with former USA Boxing 1999 national amateur 156-lb champion Dakota Stone (161 lbs) of Aberdeen, Washington. Judges Abe Belardo and Dave Nelson scored the fight a 38-38 draw while judge Marcos Rosales saw it 39-37 for Stone, whose pro record moved to 5-1-2 with this result. Stone's only pro loss had come to the formidable Ann Wolfe, so this draw was a signal to the pro boxing world that Erin Toughill was to be taken seriously in their sport!

On June 4, 2002 at the Temple Corps Community Center in Philadelphia, Erin fought Jacqui Frazier-Lyde of Philadelphia for the WIBF Intercontinental Super Middleweight title. The scheduled eight-rounder was ruled a no contest after the bout was stopped 1:17 into the third round for a cut to Toughill that required ten stitches to close. The injury came from a clash of heads near the end of the second round which Frazier-Lyde admitted was caused by a head butt. The two and a half rounds that were completed hadn't seen much action as Frazier-Lyde said she had planned to wear Toughill down ... "I was waiting on her, she was waiting on me, and we were both waiting on each other".  Toughill's take was "she is a tough woman and a true competitor [but] I clearly dominated the fight and would have most likely won the bout." Toughill's trainer Jesse Reid stated that his fighter "wanted to start off slow and attack Jacqui to the body. We were going to be patient until the fourth round, then turn Erin loose."  Frazier-Lyde was 8-1-0 coming into this bout, her only loss being to Laila Ali.

On September 1, 2002 in the MMA competition SG 7-Dyanmic, Erin won by decision over Miwako Ishihara of Japan.  

On July 24, 2003 at the Performing Arts Center in Oxnard, Califorria, Erin (163 lbs) won a four-round unanimous (40-36) decision over Nikki Conant (164½ lbs) of Las Vegas, who fell to 1-2 (and has not fought since). Toughill out-punched and out-landed Conant from the outside with right hands over the top. Toughill also scored with rights and left hooks on the inside. Conant was cut over her left eye, but this wasn't a big factor in the bout.

On November 14, 2003 at the Quiet Cannon in Montebello, California, Erin (158 lbs) won a four-round unanimous decision over debut fighter Ku'ulei Kupihea (159 lbs), a southpaw from Honolulu, Hawaii. Toughill was ranked #8 at super middleweight by my computer rankings at the time of this bout.

Erin was scheduled to fight IFBA, WIBC and NABA Super Middleweight champion Ann Wolfe of Waco, Texas on February 7, 2004 at Grand Casino Coushatta Pavilion in Kinder, Louisiana, but the bout was canceled at the last moment when Wolfe pulled out (for reasons that were variously reported as complaints about the purse, stomach flu and lip sores.  At the time that the fight was scheduled to have taken place, emcee Nora Papillion invited Toughill to take the microphone and say a few words to the packed (6000+ estimated) house, whose reaction indicated that this fight had been a major draw.  Toughill struggled with her explanation as to why the bout didn't happen. “I’m sure she would want this fight but she’s sick or something…” said Toughill. Nobody from Wolfe's management was present to offer any explanation for the cancellation.

On July 31, 2004 at Sam's Town Casino in Tunica, Mississippi, Erin (170 lbs) won an eight-round unanimous (79-73,77-75,78-74) decision over Cassandra Geiggar (170 lbs) of Fayetteville, Arkansas, who fell to 6-3-0 (5 KOs) with the loss.  As reported to WBAN by Valerie Mahfood at ringside, "For those who have never seen Toughill fight, she could be said to be a cross between Kathy Rivers and Marsha Valley. A counter-puncher, who has a tendency to “paw out” her gloves in an attempt to set up a stronger (opposite) lead, Toughill is not opposed to trading punch for punch. Geiggar, on the other hand, is more of brawler. During this fight, she put her faith in her right hand and waited for a chance to throw it ... Toughill started the fight slow. Geiggar came out to kill. Despite Toughill catching Geiggar with a left hook that dislodged her mouthpiece, Geiggar was still successful in pushing Toughill backwards. But, in the third round, Geiggar stopped using her jab. Instead, she started coming in with a straight right or with hooks to the head. Toughill, still moving backwards, began to wait on Geiggar’s punch and, after slipping or blocking it, started to land with punches of her own. During the next couple of rounds, both fighters gave (and received) some good shots. However, without the jab to get her inside of Toughill (she fights better on the outside), Geiggar did more receiving than giving. On the occasions when Geiggar did get inside, she proved to have a strength advantage over Toughill. As the fight made it into the home stretch, Toughill initiated forward momentum. She began throwing most of her punches in combinations, ending several times with solid hooks to the body. As her confidence level increased, she became more aggressive and less defensive minded. This gave room for Geiggar to catch her more than once with solid punches, which were thrown as single right or left hand power shots."

On October 22, 2004 on a black tie charity card at the Municipal Auditorium in Sarasota, Florida, Erin (167 lbs) won a ten-round unanimous decision over Yvonne Reis (164½ lbs) of  Fort Lauderdale, Florida for the WIBF 168-lb Intercontinental title. Reis fell to 3-5-1 (0 KOs) with the loss. Toughill was now 6-1-0 (0 KO's) as a pro boxer.

On December 19, 2004, Erin fought in the Smack Girl 2004 World ReMix in Tokyo, Japan, the top female mixed martial arts competition in the world. Erin dominated her bouts in this tournament, only to lose by a disqualification in its final. She defeated Miwako Ishihara of Japan by a TKO at 0:27 in the first round when Isihara's corner threw in the towel after Erin landed a series of punches.

She next defeated Marloes Coenen of Olst, Holland, who brought a perfect 11-0 MMA record and was regarded as one of the world's top MMA female fighters. Coenen, who once described Erin as the "personification of arrogance",  also lost by TKO when she could not continue into the second five-minute round after being knocked down by a flurry of punches (see picture).  In the final, Toughill was dominating Megumi Yabushita of Japan when Yabushita began hanging on to Erin's glove and trying to twist her arm around, an illegal maneuver. Erin responded with an elbow to Yabushita's back, also illegal.  Toughill's infraction rendered Yabushita unable to continue; the bout was stopped and Toughill was disqualified, giving the win to Yabushita.

On June 11, 2005 at the MCI Center, Washington, District Of Columbia, with her father Muhammad Ali among the 15,472 ringside fans, Laila Ali (167½ lbs) TKO'd Erin Toughill (168 lbs) at 1:54 in the third round to win the newly-minted WBC Women's Super Middleweight title.  In the first round both boxers began the round cautiously. By the second round, Toughill sported a bloody (and broken) nose. Ali had the faster hands, and Toughill was unable to mount a consistent attack, so Ali took charge. Though Ali used a jab occasionally to set up other punches, most of her damage was done with a stiff right hand that Toughill seemed unable to avoid. By the end of the second round, Toughill's nose was bleeding profusely, and her corner was unable to stop it. Toughill started the third round more effectively but by the end of the round, Ali backed her into a corner throwing a barrage of combinations, landing about 15 unanswered punches to Toughill's face. The bout was stopped when Toughill turned her back to her.  The bout was also a defence of Ali's WIBA Super Middleweight and was carried live on Showtime pay-per-view. Ali improved her record to 21-0-0 (18 KOs) while Toughill fell to 6-2-1 (0 KOs).

Toughill said after the fight "I believed in myself and so did those who worked with me for this fight. You cannot step back into time and change anything. You just move on. I have always taken on the challenge. I love to fight and sometimes you fight when you can. In boxing, I have taken on competition that was near or equal to my time in the ring. I knew Ms. Ali had the experience and I did not care. I still do not care and I would fight her again. I could have waited and fought more, but I did not. This was something I really wanted to do and I did it. Unfortunately it did not work out the way I wanted LOL but it is just a minor setback. More ring time - that's all. I will get my chance to fight for a title again. I have come into boxing wanting to better myself as a fighter and wanting to fight the best, I can say that. I will continue to fight and fight until I reach my goal. I went into this fight willing to take a shortcut to the top. We wanted to reach it this year - not next year or the year after. Would it have been nice to have that "shortcut" work? Definitely. But now, we will go back to the beginning and take that longer route. We will climb that ladder again and again till we reach the top."

On January 27, 2006 at the Palladium in Hollywood, California, Erin (164 lbs) used straighter punches and more footwork to win by a six-round unanimous (58-56,59-55,59-55) decision over heavy-hitting Laura Ramsey (167 lbs) of Orlando, Florida. Erin improved to 7-2-1 (0 KOs) with the win while dropping Ramsey to 5-2-0 (1 KO).

Asked which sport she prefers, boxing or MMA, Erin told Benny Henderson: "Now, I like boxing better. For a while it was equal. I still train my ground fighting and I do love that. But I don't really miss kick boxing. I know I am great at MMA. I think I am good at boxing too - but I know I have only shown a small bit of what I am capable of. I know I can do much more. I love boxing because it truly is a science. People have no idea on what the inner workings of boxing really are. It's amazing."

In June 2006 Erin signed a management contract with Infinity Boxing LLC, saying that she was looking forward to returning to the ring in August and wanted to challenge any junior middleweight or middleweight especially if they hold a title. She joins a team that includes Chevelle Hallback (IBA & WIBA world champion) Shelley Burton (WIBA Super middle champion) and former world champion, Laura Serrano from Mexioo.  

Erin Toughill vs Laura Ramsey in August 2006

On August 31, 2006 at Harvey's Lake Tahoe, Stateline, Nevada, Laura Ramsey (160 lbs) avenged her earlier loss to Erin (158½ lbs) by scoring a spectacular TKO at 1:28 in the first round when she knocked Erin through the ring ropes and onto a ringside table. The fight was called so that Toughill could be checked for a more serious injury than the cuts she sustained in her fall from the ring, whose ropes were unusually loose. Laura Ramsey improved her record to 6-2-9 (2 KO's) while Toughill fell (literally!) to 7-3-1 (0 KO's).

Other Erin Toughill links

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Page last updated: Saturday, 15 December 2012


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