6'0", 175-lb southpaw
Kathy Rivers was born on October 4, 1967 in Woonsocket, Rhode Island. She began pro boxing in Florida as a protege of
world champion kickboxer and boxer
Bonnie Canino and of Bert
Rodriguez, Bonnie's former trainer and business partner in their US 1 Fitness Gym chain.
She later moved back to Rhode Island and trained with Tiny Ricci and Chuck Sullivan.
Rivers grew up in Rhode Island where her biggest sports
were volleyball, baseball and basketball and she
was the first female member of the all-boys Woonsocket Little League baseball team.
An older brother
introduced Kathy to boxing.
Kathy made her pro debut on March 6, 1998, with no amateur experience but after
about a year of training with Canino and Rodriguez. Fighting at the War Memorial
Coliseum in Fort Lauderdale, Florida,
she won a 4-round split decision over
Mitzi Jeter of Dalton, Georgia.
The action went back and forth with Rivers the early aggressor and Jeter
counter-punching solidly throughout. Kathy's heavier punching may
have earned her the nod in a very close fight. Jeter, who fell to 2-1 with
the loss, would go on to win
the IFBA and IWBF Welterweight world titles.
On May 24, 1998 at the Tropicana Resort and Casino in Atlantic City,
Kathy stopped Kendra Lenhart of Lenoir City,
Tennessee in the fourth round, dropping Lenhart's record to 0-2.
On July 31, 1998 again at the Tropicana in Atlantic City. New Jersey,
Kathy won a 4-round unanimous decision over local favorite Dawn Quinton
of Haddonfield, New Jersey. "Coming in as an underdog, I stepped up and showed the
crowd in Atlantic City what being a great boxer is all about. I improved my hand speed,
timing and ranging of my opponent against a strong puncher", said Rivers.
Quinton's record fell to 1-1.
On August 21, 1998 at the Belle Casino in Baton Rouge, Louisiana,
Kathy (at 173 lbs) won her first six-round fight with a unanimous decision over
Kendra Lenhart (177 lbs) of Lenoir City, Tennessee in a rematch of their
earlier fight. Rivers and Lenhart went at each other from bell to bell
in a fight that was voted as the "Fight of the Night" in an all-women's
card that also showcased Mary Ann Almager, Gina Nicholas,
Lisa Ested, Dora Webber and Gloria Ramirez, as well as Kathy's
early mentor, Bonnie Canino. Lenhart fell to 0-3 with
On September 4, 1998, at Miccosukee Indian Gaming in Miami,
Florida, Kathy won by TKO at 1:32 in the first round over Sherrie Painter of
Atlanta, Georgia who fell to 0-4 and has very little, if any, real boxing
On March 25, 1999 at the Pontchartrain Center in New Orleans, Louisiana,
Kathy lost a six-round unanimous decision to IBA women's heavyweight champion
Suzette Taylor of Atlanta, Georgia, who moved to 4-1-1, while dropping Kathy's
record to 6-1. Taylor put Kathy on the canvas for the first time in her
ring career, in a fight that Rivers has said she wasn't sufficiently prepared
On May 27, 1999 at the Gold Strike Casino in Tunica, Mississippi,
Kathy bounced back from her first loss
by taking a hard-fought six-round unanimous decision over
Valerie Mahfood of Groves, Texas.
The loss dropped Mahfood to 4-3.
On July 3, 1999 in West Palm Beach, Florida,
Kathy won a unanimous (39-37) four-round decision over Sylvia Johnson.
A ringside spectator tells us that Johnson almost knocked Rivers down with a
well-timed overhand right in the second and "threw everything but the kitchen sink at Kathy during
the first three rounds, but Kathy outboxed her all the way." The referee was on the point of
stopping the fight at the end of the fourth as an exhausted Johnson was close to being out on
her feet while taking punishment against the ropes. Johnson fell to 1-4 with this loss.
Kathy was named WBAN's Fighter of the Month in August 1999.
On September 17, 1999 in Panama City, Panama,
Kathy (177 lbs) fought a ten-round rematch with Valerie Mahfood
for the IWBF and WIBF Light Heavyweight titles.
Mahfood avenged her earlier loss when she TKO'd Rivers at 0:32 in the tenth round
after knocking her down in the eighth round. Valerie Mahfood was
ahead by 88-83, 88-84, 89-84 on the scorecards when the
bout was stopped. Mahfood advanced her pro record to 6-3 while
Rivers slipped to 8-2 after suffering the first KO loss of her
On April 21, 2000 at Rhodes-on-the-Pawtuxet in Cranston, Rhode Island,
won by a TKO over Taquella Hoskin of Ashtabula, Ohio at 0:51 in the
first round. Hoskins showed little fight as Rivers rained punches
on her. The crowd booed as the fight was stopped and
it was announced that Hoskin was "unwilling to continue".
Hoskin, who hadn't fought in two years, was billed as having an amateur
background and three pro fights,
but our correspondent tells us that it was obvious that she was too scared
to fight Rivers. The Rhode Island commission withheld Hoskin's purse and she
hasn't fought again.
On June 30, 2000 at Rhodes-on-the-Pawtuxet in Cranston, Rhode Island,
Kathy (165 lbs) moved to 10-2 (3 KO's) with a four-round unanimous
(40-36) decision over Evelyn Rodriguez (164Ĺ lbs) of Brooklyn, New York, who fell to
0-2. Rodriguez was awkward but quite effective while Rivers was
busier on offense and landed more punches. This fight was seen
on ESPN2 as a male six-rounder on the card was canceled (one of the
boxers was arrested!)
On September 22, 2000 at Rhodes-on-the-Pawtuxet in Cranston, Rhode Island,
Kathy weighed in at 167 lbs and won a four-round unanimous decision over
Bill (5'8", 164 lbs) of Lawton, Oklahoma,
who fell to 3-6.
On November 17, 2000 at Rhodes-on-the-Pawtuxet in Cranston, Rhode Island,
Kathy won her fourth bout by KO when a battered Monica McGowan
(2-2) of Rusk, Texas was unable to answer the bell for the fourth round.
Kathy lands to Marsha Valley in Las Vegas
On June 1, 2002 at the Stratosphere Hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada,
Kathy (189 lbs) won a controversial majority (56-56,57-55,57-55) decision over Marsha Valley
(178 lbs) of Los Angeles in a six-rounder that Women's Boxing Page correspondent Craig Ogawa described as a "true
slugfest". The edge for Rivers on the scorecards came when Valley had two points deducted in the fourth round, one for
hitting on the break and one for holding and hitting. Both fighters continued to battle after the final bell, and had to
be broken up by their corners. Both had weighed in for this bout one weight class above their career ranking weights. Rivers advanced to 13-2-1 (4 KO) while Valley dropped to 9-6-4 (4 KO) with the loss.
(See also the Fight Report by Craig Ogawa).
On December 6, 2002 at Gund Arena in Cleveland, Ohio,
Vonda Ward (6'6", 189Ĺ lbs) of Macedonia, Ohio retained
the IBA Heavyweight title with a TKO over Kathy (up to 195½ lbs)
at 1:41 in the eighth round. Ward got off to a slow start but began to take over the fight after getting the better of a hard hitting
slugfest in the fourth. As the fight went on, Rivers couldn't do enough to negate Ward's reach and strength advantage as
Ward pressed forward with a steady, if mechanical, style. The fight ended with an exhausted Rivers cowering against the
ropes as Ward fired a two-fisted barrage of leather to her head. Rivers looked a little out of shape and overweight in a
bout where she needed to stay busy and to use her movement and ring experience to stay close and outwork the lanky and
hard-hitting Ward. There were no knockdowns but Rivers was clearly getting the worst of the action for several rounds
before the stoppage. The win moved Ward's record to 15-0-0 (14 KO) while Rivers
slipped to 13-3-1 (4 KO). The bout was carried live on ESPN2's Friday Night Fights.
On September 9, 2003 at Club Level in Miami Beach, Florida,
Kathy (193 lbs) advanced to 13-3-0 (5 KO) with a TKO at 0:57 in the fourth round over Lisa McFarland (5'5", 200 lbs) of
East Point, Georgia. This was a plodder for two rounds with neither throwing much. The 40-year old McFarland, whose
boxing skills are limited, briefly tried to mix it up with Rivers in the third but lacked the speed or range to be
effective. The bout was stopped when McFarland turned her back to Rivers after taking several hard shots in the fourth.
McFarland fell to 2-4-0 (1 KO). The bout was shown live on ESPN2.
Kathy Rivers with Valerie Mahfood in April 2004
© Copyrighted photo taken by
Patricia Butaud and Janis
On April 16, 2004 at Stafford Center in Houston, Texas,
Valerie Mahfood (163 lbs) of Groves, Texas and Kathy (175 lbs) fought a six-round majority draw, with scores of 57-57 twice
and 58-56 for
WBAN Photo/MPEG Gallery #163
on the WBAN Records Member Site).
On May 29, 2004 at National Park in Georgetown, Guyana, a crowd of about 5000 fans
saw Gwendolyn O'Neil (169 lbs) of Georgetown win a ten-round unanimous (100-90,98-92,98-95) decision over
Kathy Rivers (170 lbs) for the WIBA Light Heavyweight title that had been vacated by
Jacqui Frazier-Lyde. There were no knockdowns
in a hard fought battle. Kathy's management
told WBAN that
"Kathy knows when she goes to someone's home town you have to take it away from her.
Kathy lost the fight in Guyana, but ... the fight wasn't a walk over ... it was closer
then what they read. Kathy took the fight to her. It was a very fast pace fight with a
lot of punches thrown by both girls."
Kathy (left) battles Elizabeth Kerin
© Copyrighted photo taken by Bob Marovitz
On August 27, 2004 at the Ramada Plaza Hotel in Rosemont, Illinois, Kathy (176
lbs) fought to a four-round split decision draw (38-38,37-39,39-37)
with Elizabeth Kerin (176 lbs) of Chicago. Kerin rushed out at the opening
bell and threw everything she had at a clearly surprised
Rivers, who soon settled down and began replying to Kerin's jab and combinations
with body shots and uppercuts. Kerin appeared to be tiring in the third as
Rivers began to walk past her punches and apply pressure. Kerin became more
defensive late in the fight, respecting Kathy's power and counterpunching. After
the fight, both said they'd like a rematch. Rivers moved her
record to 13-4-2 (5 KO), Kerin to 3-0-1 (3 KO's). Rivers took the fight on two
days' notice after Kerin, with the help of former world champion
Bonnie Canino, challenged her to fly
to Chicago for the fight.
Martha Salazar vs. Kathy Rivers
Copyrighted photo courtesy Team Salazar
On April 2, 2005 at the Oakland Arena in Oakland, California,
Martha Salazar (236Ĺ lbs) of San Francisco defeated Kathy
(198Ĺ lbs) by an eight-round unanimous
decision for the WBE Heavyweight Title. Rivers had been in
trouble in the first round, but fought on and forced Salazar to
settle for the unanimous decision. Salazarís strength and skill dominated the
fight despite a gutsy effort from Rivers. When Rivers straightened up,
Salazar connected with looping hooks but when Rivers leaned forward, she was met
with devastating right uppercuts. From the sixth round on, Salazar began to
follow the uppercuts with hard left crosses that would have put away lesser
opponents. Salazar appeared to be going for the knockout in the final round,
landing heavily with both hands, but Rivers took these shots and fired back her
own, bringing the fans to their feet for a standing ovation at the final bell.
Referee Marty Sammon said of the fight: ďThese women can teach the men how to
fight. There wasnít one clinch in eight rounds.Ē Salazar improved her record to
9-3-0 (2 KO) while Kathy fell to 13-5-2 (5
On May 27, 2005 at Big Sandy Superstore Arena in
Huntington, West Virginia, Kathy won a ten-round unanimous decision over
Nikki Eplion of South Point Ohio for the IBA Americas
female Cruiserweight Title.
The fight was the co-main event on the 11-bout Tri-State Showcase of Champions
card. The Huntington Herald-Dispatch
that Eplion controlled the
action in the first two rounds but Rivers took over at that point, doing most of
the damage with Eplion on the ropes, and dropped the Ohio southpaw several
times. Overall, Eplion took nine standing eight counts. "I had to feel her
out," Rivers said while admiring the championship belt around her waist.
"Thatís what itís all about. The third round, my trainer (Bert Rodriguez) said
go to work." Eplion fell to 12-3-2 (7 KOs) while Rivers
improved to 14-5-2 (5 KOs).
On June 30, 2007 in El Paso, Texas,
lbs) of Houston, Texas and Kathy (170Ĺ lbs) fought to a
four-round majority draw. The two fought hard, and both were coming back after
being out of the ring for awhile. Final judges scores were 38-38, 38-38, 40-36.
Rivers moved her pro record to 14-5-3 (5 KOs).
Trainer Bert Rodriguez also got Kathy started on a modeling career, and she was offered a
contract for the "plus size" category by the Ford agency.
"At the time I was a size 14", says Kathy, "but I had also started training with Bert. I went down to a size 9.
The Ford agents said they could make me a star if I went back up to a size 14. But I didnít want
to put on the weight I worked so hard to get off. Besides, Iím much more of a sports oriented person."
She posed for swimwear and suntan ads, and did commercials for fitness supplements, a cruise line, a gym and a Florida restaurant.
"I knew I didnít have the physique for runway modeling", she says, "I would have to get down to 125 pounds,
or go up to more than 180 pounds to be a plus size. Iím much happier being a boxer, and being me."
Kathy trains for three or four hours six days a week, mixing stair
running, weight training and aerobics for stamina, speed, strength and
conditioning. Like many other pro boxers, she spars with men.
Other Kathy Rivers links
To check out fight reports, complete up-to-date boxing records, with huge digital photos you can go to
the WBAN Records Member Site
Page last updated:
Sunday December 16, 2012