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Photo courtesy Kathy Williams


Kathy "Shake 'em Down" Williams, a 5'5" policewoman from Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada is a fine example of the new breed of women boxers who step into the professional boxing ring after first getting a thorough schooling in the fundamentals as amateurs. Kathy is a two-time Canadian national amateur champion who also represented her country in international tournaments in Sweden and Finland.

Kathy was born on 8 September 1967 and grew up in Montreal, Quebec. She attended Bishop's University where she graduated with a Bachelor of Arts (double major in Business and Psychology and a minor in French).

She began her boxing training at age 11, at a sports camp, when she was living in Montreal. She discovered that she really enjoyed it and continued for three years, but she quit because "there wasn't much women's boxing happening at that time". Her interest in competing was rekindled in 1993 while she was attending police college and saw a boxing and kickboxing show that included two women. "I was watching them thinking I could beat them" she says.

When she returned to Thunder Bay, she called up Tony Pimentel, the trainer she has been with ever since. At that time there was only one other female at his Doggs Gym, so she sparred mostly with men. Kathy says they were very supportive when she started, and were always giving her tips and pointers.

She had her first amateur bout in Cambridge, Minnesota in May 1994. She went on to win Ontario Provincial titles in 1994, 1995 and 1996 and Canadian national titles in 1995 and 1996. Her winning performance in the first women's nationals in Canada got her into the Canadian edition of Sports Illustrated, and won her an award for best prospect at the tournament.

She fought as an amateur in Minnesota again in May 1996. In May 1997 she was on the Canadian national women's team that competed in Sweden and Finland. The Canadian boxers won both of these dual meets and Kathy won both of her bouts. She defeated Erika Långström of Sweden 8-6, and also won an award for best Canadian boxer.

Kathy was joined at Doggs Gym in Thunder Bay by Tracey Stevens, who also competed as an amateur before turning to professional boxing. Kathy told me they were the only girls in the gym for three years but were joined in 1997 by Katie Burton and two other female amateurs. Kathy says the gym is a close knit club who do lots of activities together, which makes it easier in the gym where they all spar together. Trainer Tony Pimentel is also the Canadian national team coach.

By 1998 Kathy had compiled a 25-6 record and had no mountains left to climb as an amateur boxer as Olympic boxing seemed a long way off. "I love the sport and just want to keep competing", she says, adding "at my age and not knowing when Olympic women’s boxing would become sanctioned, turning professional was the best option for me."

It was time for her to enter the pro boxing ring!

Her pro career began with a return to Minnesota, where she TKO'd Jamie Blair in the second round in Minneapolis on July 31, 1998.

Kathy WilliamsKathy's second fight was live on ESPN, in Atlantic City on September 11, 1998. She easily defeated Jayla Ortiz of Santa Fe, New Mexico by a six-round unanimous decision. Ortiz, who had no answer for Kathy's reach advantage, fell to 3-4-2 with 3 KO's in a fight that was totally dominated by Kathy.

Kathy's first two professional opponents had not been stiff competition. But that changed in her third pro fight. Kathy faced former IFBA bantamweight champion Yvonne Trevino for a Miller Time Texas Championship at the Freeman Coliseum in San Antonio on November 17, 1998. A crowd of 1836 saw Kathy use her superior ring generalship, hand speed and movement to score a convincing six-round unanimous (60-54, 59-55, 59-55) decision in a fight where she put Trevino on the canvas twice, at the end of the 3rd and midway through the 5th round. Kathy suffered a slight cut in the fifth round from an accidental head butt but used her ring skills to handle Yvonne's pressure and earn the clear decision in front of a highly appreciative crowd. The crowd was on its feet throughout the contest and the bout stole the show on the otherwise all-male card. [See Kathy's own account of this exciting fight.] 

Kathy stated after the bout that being relaxed for the fight and maintaining her cool even when Yvonne stepped up the pressure were the keys to allowing her to distance and then to use her deceptive punching power to offset Yvonne's superior professional experience.  "With Kathy being a lefty, I knew she had good skills and the experience to take on a fighter like Trevino," Kathy's trainer Tony Pimentel said. "A fighter like Yvonne was made for Kathy, because they both had very similar styles of fighting and both of them are very aggressive. It was more than 50-50, and Kathy was well-focused."

"A fight like this was very good experience for us, especially to fight and to win," Williams said.

On February 27, 1999 at the Emerald Queen Casino in Tacoma, Washingon, a capacity crowd of 1400 saw Kathy take a four-round unanimous decision over Tawayna Broxton (118½ lbs) of Forest Park, Georgia, who fell to 1-8.

On March 25, 1999 at the Jacob Brown Auditorium in Brownsville, Texas, Kathy weighed in at 113 lbs and won a first-round TKO over Maribel Ocasio Soto (110 lbs) of Puerto Rico. Kathy spent most of the first round chasing Soto), connecting on a solid overhand combination to the head and peppering her with shots to the midsection. After the round was over, Soto returned to her corner but was unable to answer the bell for the second round. Soto fell to 3-6 with this loss.

On April 8, 1999 in Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada, Kathy TKO'd Donyale Williams of Ashtabula, Ohio at 1:40 in the first round. The American was knocked down twice in the round, leading to the stoppage.

On May 2, 1999 at the Day's Inn and Conference Center in Allentown, Pennsylvania, Kathy lost a 4-round decision to Jamillia Lawrence of Atlantic City, who moved her pro record to 3-0 with the win.

On June 24, 1999 at the Arena in Windsor, Ontario, Canada, Kathy weighed in at 115 lbs and won a six-round unanimous decision over Suzanne Riccio-Major (also 115 lbs) of Pittsfield, Massachusetts. The first three rounds were a tight battle, until Williams began to have success using her hand speed to catch Riccio-Major coming in. Kathy began to find the range in the last three rounds, and buckled Suzanne's knees just before the final bell. (The result matched the prediction by the 95 visitors who took our Women's Boxing Page poll: 53% said Kathy on points, 33% Kathy by KO ... only 12% called the fight for Suzanne, but it was closer than this in the ring!) The win earned Williams a North American Professional Boxing Council junior bantamweight trophy and dropped Riccio-Major's record to 6-7-1. (See Kathy's own view of this fight!)

On July 22 in Dallas, Texas, Kathy was set to defend her Miller Light Texas State Championship in a rematch with Yvonne Trevino (8-4-1) but Yvonne suffered a broken nose and had to cancel just four days before the bout. The promoter found a substitute at 2 a.m. on the day of the fight, but Angel Brown of Cleveland, Ohio was out of her league ... she came in with a 0-2 record and was TKO'd at 0:15 of the first round.

On August 14, 1999 in Sturgis, South Dakota she won a hard fought 10-round unanimous decision over Albuquerque, New Mexico's Brenda Burnside for a "Great Northern" title. Kathy's well-honed boxing skills and reach advantage were more than a match for Burnside's charging style in the early rounds, but Burnside came on strongly in the late going and gave the Canadian star all she could handle on the inside. Burnside fell to 5-8-2 (but her record is deceptive as she has taken on only top-flight opponents this year).

On November 18, 1999 at the Radisson Astrodome in Houston, Texas, Kathy advanced to 10-1 with an eight-round unanimous decision over Jamillia Lawrence of Atlantic City, who fell to 3-2. The judges scores were 77-75, 78-74, 78-74 for Williams after a defensive bout with both staying on the outside and boxing. Kathy told us "I started off slow but after the third round got into my rhythm. As the bout went on I felt stronger ... I was happy that I won but not as happy with my performance as I could have been. I felt that some of the stuff I had been working on in the gym I didn't do, but there were some I did." This win avenged Kathy's only pro loss, the four-round decision that she dropped to Lawrence in May.

vs. Daisy LangOn February 5, 2000 at the Rhein-Rhur-Halle in Duisberg, Germany, Kathy weighed in at 115 lbs and challenged Bulgaria's Daisy Lang (115 lbs) for the WIBF Junior Bantamweight title Lang won by a 97-95, 98-91 and 97-94 tally on the scorecards, but our correspondent felt that Kathy was the victim of a hometown decision (see the fight report). Kathy stumbled in the fifth round and her glove touched the canvas, after which she received a standing eight count.  Kathy said "Once I slipped and the ref counted it as a knock down I new that I would probably have to knock her out or at least down to have a chance in winning." Lang moved to 10-1 with 5 KO's, while Williams fell to 10-2 with 4 KO's. (See the WBAN interview with Kathy for more details about what took place before and during this fight.)

On August 29, 2000 at Sheraton Waikiki in Honolulu, Hawaii, Kathy won the IBA Junior Bantamweight title with an easy ten round unanimous decision over Tracy Moulton of Denver, Colorado. A correspondent told the Women's Boxing Page "Williams was cut under her right eye in the first round. It appeared to be from a clash of heads but was not ruled as such. On two separate occasions Williams was awarded rounds by the scores of 10-8 without scoring a knockdown, but this seemed fair as Moulton was often sent reeling. In the end it was the sharper punching of Williams dominating the wild and less effective swings from Moulton. This was the first women's professional boxing match in the state and the crowd loved it." Williams moved her pro record to 11-2 with the win; Moulton slipped to 4-3. The bout was the main event in the inaugural Hawaii Tuesday Night Fights series.

On November 2, 2000 at Freeman Coliseum in San Antonio, Texas, Kathy moved to 12-2 and successfully defended her Miller Lite Texas Bantamweight title by a narrow decision over IFBA Junior Featherweight Champion Leona Brown of Pawling, New York, who fell to 8-5. Esteban Erik Stipnieks told me that it was "ugly ... wrestling, holding, not breaking when told to. Leona Brown's camp was adamant they were robbed. The fight was close down to one point. Kathy Williams had moments of brilliance while Leona Brown found a home for her overhand right."

On January 19, 2001 at the Soaring Eagle Casino in Mount Pleasant, Michigan, WIBF North American Junior Featherweight champion Ada Velez (117 lbs) from Puerto Rico won a unanimous 10-round decision over Kathy (117¾ lbs) for the IBA Bantamweight belt. The scorecards were 97-93, 99-91 and 100-90. Velez, who is trained in Florida by former world boxing and kickboxing champion Bonnie Canino, advanced to 7-0 with 4 KO's. Kathy, who had taken the bout on six days' notice when another bout was cancelled, wasn't able to overcome Velez's tricky southpaw style and speed and Velez controlled the action in the later rounds. (Read the round-by-round report from ringside.)

On April 12, 2001 at Jacob Brown Auditorium in Brownsville, Texas, a crowd of 1,844 got their money's worth as Kathy defended her Miller Lite Texas Bantamweight title with an eight-round unanimous decision over Delia Gonzalez of Chamberino, New Mexico in a hard-fought Main Event. Williams moved her pro record to 13-3-0 (4 KO's) while Gonzalez slipped to 11-6-3 (3 KO's).

On May 15, 2002 at Treasure Chest Casino in Kenner, Louisiana, Lisa Foster (121 lbs) of Washington, D.C. stunned Kathy (119¼ lbs) with a knockdown in the opening round and went on to win the vacant IFBA Junior Featherweight title by TKO at 1:19 in the ninth. Foster advanced to 5-3-1 (2 KO). Foster looked "incredibly sharp" according to my correspondent, and the bout was stopped with Williams looking wobbly on her feet.

On May 31, 2003 at Sky Ute Casino, Ignacio, Colorado, Adriana Delgado of Albuquerque, New Mexico won the IFBA Bantamweight title with a ten-round unanimous (97-93,97-93,97-94) decision over Kathy. Williams carried the fight to Delgado in the early going but was tagged repeatedly by the hard-counterpunching Delgado. Delgado staggered Williams with a right to the head in the fourth but Williams survived and came on strong again in the sixth. Delgado mounted a strong counterattack in the seventh and eighth but Williams rallied again and Delgado needed a big final round to make sure of the decision. Delgado advanced to 10-2-1 (3 KO) with the win while Williams fell to 13-5-0 (4 KO).

Kathy emphasizes that there are many benefits for female boxers competing at the amateur level to get ready for the pro's and recommends this to any female who is contemplating a pro career eventually. "The experience you can gain from the amateurs is remarkable", says Kathy.

Her advice to youngsters: "If they want to box, go for it!"

Like many other successful pro female boxers, Kathy is an all-round athlete. She has been playing sports since she was five years old, including track, boxing, gymnastics, volleyball, softball and basketball, which she played for three years at Bishop's University. She also studied ballet (which may account for some of her grace in the ring?).

She works as a policewoman in Thunder Bay and told me: "I get lots of support from the guys and girls I work with. They joke about me fighting but they are always there congratulating me. My boyfriend is also very supportive. He makes me train sometimes when I don't want to. He is great. A lot of times people recognize me from being in the paper. That is the only drawback from the job. In the paper it is always mentioned that I am a boxer and police officer."

Kathy works hard to keep in tip-top shape. She trains six days a week, at least four of those in the gym. She runs four to six days a week and works out with weights three times a week. She says she never takes more than a week away from training, so she is always ready for a bout.

Her goal? "To win world titles in all three federations", she says.

Kathy can be contacted by email at boxingkathy@yahoo.com

Other Kathy Williams Links

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Page last updated: Sunday, June 7, 2004


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