5'9" heavyweight Martha "The Shadow" Salazar was born on February 2 1970
in San Francisco, California.
She has been boxing professionally since 2001. She began her competitive
career as a kickboxer but found it too difficult to get fights with women her
own size. Her current trainer, Danovis (Dee) Pooler,
heard about Salazar from other trainers at the gym, so he sparred with her one
night. “I was able to hit her and pick my shots a bit,” Pooler says. He
added that Salazar thought Pooler had broken her nose, and got angry after that.
“Then she introduced me to some skills … and then I got beat up. That’s when
I knew what I was getting myself into. Oh, so that’s who Martha is!”
She made her pro debut on March 25, 2001 at Centeniial Hall in Hayward,
California, weighing in at 237 lbs and winning a four-round unanimous decision
over fellow debut fighter Denise Callahan (278 lbs) of North Carolina.
On June 22, 2002 at the Emerald Queen Casino in Tacoma, Washington, Martha (242½
lbs) won a four-round unanimous decision over Carley Pesente (215 lbs) od
Connecticut who fell to 3-3-0 with this loss. Salazar used her strong overhand
right to keep Pesente off balance for most of the bout and held off a late rally
On September 21, 2002, again at the Emerald Queen Casino, Martha (240½
lbs) won a four-round rematch with Carley Pesente (216 lbs) by a shutout 40-3
decision. Pesente fell to 3-4-1.
On October 20, 2002 again at the Emerald Queen in Tacoma, Martha (241½ lbs) won
a four-round unanimous decision over debut fighter Tanisha Dunn (5' 7½", 210¾
lbs) of Cincinnatti, Ohio.
On November 16, 2002 at the Mare island Sports Arena in Vallejo, California,
Martha won a six-round unanimous decision over 5'10" Kisha Snow of Brooklyn, New
York. This was a hard fought slugfest with very little defense by either fighter
according to one correspondent. Another writes "this was a six-round war; the
crowd was standing from 30 seconds into the first round throughout the rest of
the fight. Both fighters came out swinging from the bell throughout the 6th
rounds. Kisha was stunned in the 5th round. The ref asked her if she wanted to
keep going and she said yes. The sixth round they let them go. Definitely the
fight of the night."
March 1, 2003 at the Thomas and Mack Center in Las Vegas, Nevada, Martha (230
lbs) suffered her first pro defeat, by a four-round split decision to
Vonda Ward (6'6", 179 lbs) of Macedonia, Ohio, who
improved to 16-0-0. One judge scored the fight 39-37 for Salazar, but the
other two saw it the other way by identical scores. Ward started well and most
observers say she wo the first round but she was bloodied and very seriously
tested by Salazar in this bout, which had been reduced from an expected six
rounds to four rounds at the last moment. Salazar was stymied by Ward's
trademark jab at first, but her hefty looping (but well-timed) overhand rights
were a big threat to Ward as the fight progressed. Ward took one of these rights
on the temple near the end of the third round and looked stunned. Salazar
stepped up the pressure in the final round and hurt Ward with several more big
rights, but Ward's control of the early rounds had earned her the decision on
two cards. Ward had been training to face Carlette Ewell and then
Valerie Mahfood, who was unable to get away from her job as a prison guard in Texas.
"I was training
for someone about 175 pounds," said Ward, who got a 30-day suspension from the Nevada commission because she had trouble
walking after the bout. "I've got a lot to learn," said Ward. "Maybe we'll do a rematch." Salazar moved well and had good timing and hand speed, and she might have pulled off the win over
the lanky and more athletic-looking Ward in a longer bout. Salazar slipped to 5-1-0 (0 KO).
“How is it that Vonda wins that fight but then collapses? The Nevada State
Athletic Commission went in her dressing room and gave her a 30 day suspension.
I am the one who supposedly lost the fight and I didn’t have a mark on me,”
On May 24, 2003 at the Solano County Fairgrounds in Vallejo, California, Martha
(237 lbs) TKO'd Carley Pesente (224 lbs) at the end of the second round of a
scheduled four-rounder. Both came out throwing thunderous shots and it looked
like a rerun of their first two fights as they fought toe to toe for most of the
first round. In the second Pesente cornered Salazar and appeared to be
making a spirited effort to finish her off when something clicked and Salazar
rattled off at least eight straight rights to Pesente's head. Pesente finished
the round despite being hurt but her corner
realized that it was not her night and threw in the towel. Pesente fell to 3-6-1
with the loss.
Vonda Ward vs. Martha Salazar
© Copyrighted photo by WBAN Senior Editor Brian Ackley
On July 11, 2003 at Memorial Civic Center in Canton, Ohio,
Vonda Ward (188 lbs) advanced to 18-0-0 (15 KO)
with a clear unanimous (99-91,98-92,97-93) ten-round decision over
Martha (234 lbs).
With her IBA Heavyweight title on the line, Ward controlled most of this rematch by boxing from
the outside while the shorter, heavier Salazar tried to work inside with overhand rights and
left hooks. Ward used her reach and jab to set up the early
action but Salazar began to get to her in the fifth, landing a series of punches to
the head with Ward against the ropes. After the fight, Ward admitted that she was in trouble in
the fifth, but she recovered her composure and went
on to control the late-round action. ``I could tell (Salazar) was tired. After I didn't go down,
I think that deflated her" said Ward.
Salazar fell to 6-2-0 (1 KO), both of her losses coming to Ward.
“Vonda told me after the fight that I hit her harder than
anyone’s ever hit her and I know that’s true", says Salazar. "Some of
her friends came over and told me I won that fight. Even her mother came and
told me it was a great fight. They’re nice people over there in Canton,
Ohio. Very nice. Too bad that next time I go there, I’ll be putting that
girl on the floor.”
March 18, 2004 at the Chumash Casino in Santa Ynez, California,
Canadian-born Marsha Valley (183½ lbs) of
Los Angeles won a six round split (58-56,56-58,58-56)
decision over Salazar (239 lbs). Valley improved her record to 10-8-4
(4 KO's) with this win.
On October 16, 2004 at the Oakland
Arena in Oakland, California, Martha (237 lbs) avenged this loss with a
eight-round unanimous decision over Marsha Valley
(181 lbs) for the vacant WBE Super Heavyweight title.
On November 28, 2004 at Splashmin's Fun Park and Resort in
Georgetown, Guyana, Martha (240 lbs) TKO'd Pamela London (210 lbs) of Guyana
at 1:19 in the ninth round of a scheduled ten-rounder for the vacant WBF
Martha Salazar vs. Kathy Rivers
Copyrighted photo courtesy Team Salazar
On April 2, 2005 at the Oakland Arena in
Oakland, California, Martha (236½ lbs) won an eight-round unanimous decision over
Kathy Rivers (198½ lbs) of Woonsocket, Rhode Island defending
her WBE Super Heavyweight title in the card's semi-main event. Referee Marty
Sammon said of the fight: “These women can teach the men how to fight.
There wasn’t one clinch in eight rounds.” Rivers had been in
trouble in the first round, but fought on and forced Salazar to settle for
the unanimous decision. Salazar’s 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 also
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. Rivers fell to 13-5-2 (5 KO) with the loss.
July 21, 2005 at Arco
Arena in Sacramento, California, Martha
stopped Marsha Valley at 1:49 seconds of
fourth round in a scheduled six rounder.
Marsha Valley fell to
10-12-4 (4 KOs).
On November 17, 2005 at the Arco Arena in
Sacramento, Martha (223 lbs) won a six-round unanimous decision over Marsha
Valley (177 lbs), who fell to 10-13-4 (4 KOs).
On February 10, 2007 at the Wolstein Center in
Cleveland, Ohio Vonda Ward (182½ lbs) returned to
the ring to win a majority (97-93,97-93,95-95) decision over Martha (234½
lbs) and became the new WBC and WIBA Heavyweight champion.
Martha fell to 11-4-0 (3 KO's)
while Vonda Ward improved to 22-1-0
“She’s not your ordinary female,”
says Doc Conway after sparring with Martha at Fairtex Gym in Daly City,
California “She hits as hard as a guy. She could probably knock out
most guys. I think it’s good work for me -- I’m not ashamed of it.”
“She is the hardest working fighter I have,” said trainer Pooler.
“I find female fighters are very loyal to the workout."
Salazar says she is happy to travel, to meet new
people and to be in the center of the ring with a crowd cheering for her.
And no matter how physical the sport is, boxing is more of a thinking game
for Salazar. “It’s like a game of chess,” she told Christine
Yee of Xpress Magazine in April 2004, "you don’t know what’s going to
happen. You’re always thinking about what the opponent is going to do. …
Even if the other person doesn’t know how to fight, one lucky shot and
that’s it. You’re done.”
“We’re not like the guys where we’re
making all these millions of dollars. It’s going to take awhile, but we’re
getting there. … We’re going to keep on pushing and pushing,” she says.
“That’s why I love San Francisco and America, because you can just try
anything and push yourself and just see what happens.”
Martha Salazar is now looking ahead to her
third fight with Vonda Ward, at the ARCO arena in Sacramento on May 27, 2005
Other Martha Salazar links
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Page last updated:
Monday December 10, 2012