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5'6" junior welterweight Sumya "Island Girl" Anani was born in Minnesota on February 12, 1972. A yoga instructor and massage therapist, she competed as a weighlifter for 18 months, and began to box professionally in the summer of 1996.

Anani first came to prominence in tragic circumstances a few months into her boxing career. In her fourth pro bout she faced novice welterweight Katie Dallam at the Firefighter's Union Hall in St. Joseph, Missouri.

Sumya AnaniAnani dominated the fight (against an opponent who got her pro boxing license only the day before) and won by TKO in the fourth round.

Dallam, badly overmatched, had fought with a a bloody nose for most of the fight ... but suffered a hidden injury that was almost fatal. She collapsed in her dressing room after the fight, fell into a one-day coma, and required surgery for a major cranial bleed.

Anani put this tragic experience behind her and moved on to build an unbeaten record that earned her a shot at Christy Martin.

In an unusual twist for a pro boxer, Anani is a practitioner of the healing touch, a holistic healing approach.

Interviewed by the Kansas City Star in the aftermath of the Dallam bout, Anani said: " I know that's why I'm here. People always say, `Why am I here?' I know. I'm here to tell people that life is in their health. People make themselves sick. I'm hear to spread the word that they don't have to live with the pain."

Ironically, she says the publicity that she received after the Dallam fight gave her an opportunity to tell more people about healing touch.

Sumya Anani's early ring record included:

  • On August 12, 1996, she won a 4 round decision over Jessica Breitfelder.
  • On August 27, 1996, she won a 4 round decision over Jessica Breitfelder.
  • On October 16, 1996, she stopped Valerie Almack in the second round.
  • On December 12, 1996 in St. Joseph, Missouri, she stopped Katie Dallam in the fourth round.
  • On March 19, 1997 in Omaha, Nebraska, she won a four-round decision over Shelly Waldon.
  • On April 2, 1997 she won a 4 round decision over Ashley Needham
  • On September 30, 1997 at the Station Casino in Kansas City, she knocked out former WIBF lightweight champion Stacy Prestage, also of Kansas City, in the fourth round; Prestage fell to 9-4-2 with the loss
  • On November 15, 1997, she knocked out Charlotte Esparza in the first round.
  • On January 31, 1998, she stopped Loretta Kay James in the first round.
  • On March 28, 1998 at the Market Center in Kansas City, Missouri, she won a six-round unanimous decision over Andrea DeShong.

Anani was originally set to fight Christy Martin on November 13, 1998 in Las Vegas, but the bout was cancelled at short notice when Martin backed out, claiming illness but evidently around a dispute over her contract with Don King..

Sumya Anani vs. Christy Martin
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 (138 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!

"I thought for sure it was over when she was on the ropes", Anani said. "It's overwhelming. I'm surprised. I thought I would have to knock her out to get the win."

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

vs. Denise Moraetesvs. Denise Moraetes
Sumya Anani vs. Denise Moraetes on March 12, 1999

On March 12, 1999 at the Roseland Ballroom in New York City: Sumya (at 140 lbs) won a clear eight-round unanimous decision over Denise Moraetes (5'4", 139 lbs) of Augusta, Georgia by a 78-73 margin on all three scorecards. Anani quickly found the openings left by Moraetes' looping rights and tagged the former U.S. amateur champion with solid counterpunching throughout the fight. A left hook to the jaw decked Moraetes in the fourth (see picture) but she fought back fiercely to keep herself in it. Moraetes rarely found a way to land on Anani without taking straighter, heavier shots in return and was badly bruised and swollen under her left eye by the end of the fight. The bout was seen live on ESPN2's Friday Night Fights.

On March 23, 1999 at the Park Place Hotel in Kansas City, Missouri, Sumya won an eight-round unanimous decision over veteran Dora Webber of Patterson, New Jersey, who fell to 12-5-2.

On June 11, 1999 at the Horseshoe Casino in Bossier City, Louisiana: Sumya won a clear ten-round unanimous decision over Dora Webber to take the IFBA Intercontinental Junior Welterweight Title. Anani ground down the plucky but overmatched Webber with her precise punching and relentless pressure. She again showed rapidly improving ring generalship and a solid chin when she needed it against Webber's hard shots. This rematch dropped the amazingly durable Dora Webber's record to 12-6-2.

On June 25, 2000 at Majestic Star Casino in Gary, Indiana, Sumya won a six-round unanimous decision over Vicki Woods of Chattanooga, Tennessee. This was a tough fight that tested Anani, who was knocked down in the first round but came back to send Woods to the canvas in the final moments of the bout. Woods is now 9-9-1.

On September 17, 2000 at Harrah's Casino & Hotel in St.Louis, Missouri, underdog veteran Britt Van Buskirk of Carbondale, Illinois moved her pro record to 9-10-1 with a six-round split decision over Anani, who suffered her first loss in seventeen bouts. "It was close," said Anani afterwards. "I'm really ashamed of myself because I didn't fight the way I fight. I've talked to a lot of boxers and they say everybody has one fight like that, but you only get one. That's how I feel. It usually takes a few rounds for me to get loose, size her up, and see what's happening, and it was only a six round fight. I'm in good shape. I should be fighting ten rounds. If it would have went ten, I would have come back and done my thing."

Anani vs. MuellerOn May 11, 2001 on the Charity Fight Night X card in Tulsa, Oklahoma, Anani bounced back from this first loss. She weighed in at 135 lbs and won the IBA lightweight title with a clear (96-94,98-92,99-91) ten round unanimous decision over former US amateur champion Liz Mueller (5'4", 133 lbs) of New London, Connecticut, who dropped to 6-2 (2 KO's). 

On October 21, 2001 at Seven Feathers Hotel and Casino in Canyonville, Oregon, Sumya (142 lbs) avenged her only defeat by posting a ten-round (100-90,100-91,100-91) shut-out over Britt Van Buskirk (141 lbs) of Carbondale, Illinois. Anani won a vacant GBU welterweight title with the win, and moved her pro record to >18-1 (6 KOs); Van Buskirk fell to 10-14-1 (5 KOs).

On November 16, 2001 at the Convention Center in Austin, Texas, Sumya Anani battled former world kickboxing champion Fredia Gibbs of Los Angeles to an exciting ten-round majority draw (94-94,94-94,96-92 Anani) which left the 140-lb WIBA World title vacant. Anani and Gibbs traded throughout the fight, with Anani trying to confuse Gibbs by switching to a southpaw stance at times. Anani landed the better shots in the second round but Gibbs came back on the third and fourth behind her jab and hard rights to Anani's head. Anani worked inside and came back in the fifth but Gibbs continued to work her jab effectively in the sixth and seventh. Anani picked up her pace in the eighth and ninth but it was Gibbs who finished stronger in the final session. Anani is now 18-1-1 (6 KOs) while Gibbs is 7-1-1 (2 KOs).

Sumya AnaniOn February 1, 2002 at Bricktown Coca-Cola Events Center in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, a sellout crowd of 900 saw Anani (143 lbs) emphatically erase the memory of her only loss as a pro boxer with a lop-sided eight-round unanimous decision over Britt Van Buskirk(144 lbs) of Carbondale, Illinois. Anani totally controlled the action for a shutout 80-72 decision on all three scorecards in this second rematch of the two welterweights. Van Buskirk fell to 10-15-2 (5 KOs) with the loss, while Anani progressed to 19-1-1 (6 KO's).

On June 21, 2002 at the Convention Center in Waco, Texas: Sumya (140 lbs) stopped  Jane Couch (138 lbs) of the U.K. at 0:51 in the fourth round to take the WIBA junior welterweight (140-lb) WIBA title. Women's Boxing Page correspondent Kevin Cockle wrote: "A hammering left hand from the southpaw stance staggered Couch and sat her stupefied in the ropes, right arm draped over a middle strand, and brutal follow up punches bashed home as Anani made no mistake. Maybe a dozen unanswered lefts and rights swivelled Couch’s head and put her out on her feet, finally eliciting action from the ref ..." Couch fell to 16-4-0 (7 KO).

On November 2, 2002 at the Palace in Auburn Hills, Michigan, Sumya (144 lbs) knocked out WIBF welterweight champion Lisa Holewyne (144 lbs) of Austin, Texas at 0:59 in the fifth round of a scheduled 10-round bout for the vacant IBA world welterweight belt. Anani had now snared the WIBA Junior Welterweight and IFBA Intercontinental Junior Welterweight titles and progressed to 21-1-1 (8 KO) while Holewyne fell to 16-8-1 (5 KO).

On April 18, 2003 at Palace Indian Gaming Center in Lemoore, California, Sumya (141 lbs) won by a TKO at the end of the first round over Fredia Gibbs (140 lbs) of Marina del Ray, California when Gibbs was unable to answer the bell for the second round with an injury to her right hand. Gibbs was in obvious pain as her right glove was removed. The first round had been an ugly grabby affair with Anani moving forward swinging looping punches with her head down while Gibbs grabbed on to her and worked her body. This was a disappointing rematch following their ten-round draw in 2001. Gibbs fell to 9-2-1 (2 KO).

Sumya lands a left on Lisa Holewyne
Copyrighted photo taken by photojournalist J.P. Yim

On April 24, 2004 at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, California, Sumya (142 lbs) showed no ring rust at all while winning a clear six-round unanimous (60-53) decision over Lisa Holewyne (144 lbs) of Houston, Texas in front of 17,000 fans. Anani pressured Holewyne moving forward steadily with her duck and weave style while Holewyne backed off looking to counter. Anani stepped up the pressure in the second and third, scoring with her left while Holewyne countered with her right. Holewyne was knocked down by a hard left in the third round, but she battled on gamely and was able to tie Anani up to survive the round. Anani went to Holewyne's body in the fourth while Holewyne countered with uppercuts and clinching. Anani continued to pursue relentlessly and land combinations for the rest of the fight but she could not put Holewyne away as Lisa focused more on defense and occasionally looked to land her counter right. Anani is now 23-1-1 (10 KO) while Holewyne fell to 21-12-1 (5 KO). “She’s a tough girl. A real good fighter”, said Anani after the fight. “She fought me differently this time,” Anani said. “She was moving a lot more in this fight. She’s improved her footwork, she was giving more angles.” (See full WBAN fight report by Mara Castillon and WBAN Photo Gallery #165 on the WBAN Records Member Site).

Sumya Anani vs. Stephanie Jaramillo
Sumya Anani vs. Stephanie Jaramillo in Kansas City
Copyrighted photo taken by Lori Steinhorst

On December 3, 2004 at the Municipal Auditorium in Kansas City, Missouri, Sumya (140 lbs) defended her WIBA Junior Welterweight world title with a convincing (100-88,100-88,99-89) ten-round unanimous decision over Stephanie Jaramillo (140 lbs) of Albuquerque, New Mexico.  Anani was the aggressor throughout the bout while Jaramillo spent much of it trying to avoid hard shots and looking to catch Anani with counterattacks. Sumya bloodied Jaramillo's nose with a series of lefts in the fourth and knocked her down near the end of the ninth. Jaramillo, who was in survival mode by the end of the fight as Anani went for the KO, had a point deducted in the final round for holding. Anani improved her record to 24-1-1 (10 KO's) with the win while Jaramillo fell to 4-2-1 (2 KO's).

Jaramillo took the fight at about 8 days' notice after Darys Pardo of Colombia, Anani's originally scheduled opponent, had visa problems getting into the USA. Jaramillo had been training for a bout in Trinidad that was canceled after she had flown there, and stayed in training to fight Anani.

On January 22, 2005 at Grand Coushatta Casino Resort Pavilion, in Kinder, Louisiana, a crowd estimated at 3000 saw Sumya (143 lbs) defeat Belinda Laracuente (136 lbs) of Puerto Rico by a ten-round unanimous (100-90,97-93,99-91) decision, defending her IBA Welterweight world title. 

Cut early but victorious over Belinda Laracuente in January 2005
Copyrighted photo by Valerie Mahfood

According to a ringside report from pro boxer Valerie Mahfood, "Within the first ten seconds of round one, the two women clashed heads above their right eyebrows. Anani, however, suffered a cut as a result of it. At no time did the cut threaten the stoppage of the fight, but it did require minor medical attention afterwards. Rounds one through six all played the same tune. Anani attacked and Laracuente moved. The majority of the time, Anani remained the aggressor. She consistently backed Laracuente into the ropes and then unleashed a flurry of both body and head shots. Laracuente was able to retaliate at times, yet, it was simply wasn’t enough. When Laracuente threw consecutive punches, Anani traded with her. When Laracuente threw single shots, Anani absorbed the punches and continued undaunted. To me, it seemed as if Laracuente simply couldn’t find her rhythm. Or perhaps, Anani’s aggression refused to allow it. The most controversially moment of the fight occurred in round seven. From my perspective, it appeared to be a clean left hook to the body that dropped Laracuente. The referee, however, immediately called a time-out and sent Anani to a neutral corner. Laracuente held her glove over her head and complained of a head-butt. A few moments passed before the referee ruled the contact an accidental head butt. Half the crowd hissed, half the crowd cheered. When the fight resumed, it continued much on the same path as before."  Anani improved to 25-1-1 (9 KO) with this win while Laracuente fell to 21-6-2 (9 KO).

On March 25, 2006 at the Grand Victoria Casino in Rising Sun, Indiana, Terri Blair of Louisville, Kentucky stunned the women's boxing world by TKO'ing Sumya at 1:37 in the final round of a ten-rounder for the IBA Welterweight title.  Ahead on two judges' scorecards by one point going into the tenth, Anani was knocked down and then the fight was called. Anani fell to 25-2-1 (10 KO's) with this loss while Terri Blair improved to 7-10-2 (4 KO's) with the win.

On May 27, 2006 at the Louisville Gardens in Louisville, Kentucky, Terri Blair (141 lbs) of Louisville again stopped Sumya (143 lbs), this time by a TKO at 1:59 in the ninth round. Anani led in the early going and Blair took some punishment but Blair rallied in the ninth, knocking an apparently tiring Anani down three times to keep her IBA Welterweight title Terri improved to 8-10-2 (5 KO's) with her second straight stoppage of Anani, who fell to 25-3-1 (10 KO's).

Terri's manager Abdul Jarvis said about the fight: "(Anani) came out with a different game plan. She boxed a whole lot better this time. But I knew that she couldn't keep up that pace. I told you before that we don't degrade over a period of time…; I knew (Anani) was getting hurt. She would freeze every time she got hit."

Anani complimented Blair after the loss, telling the Louisville Courier-Journal: "She caught me. It happens. It's boxing. Who was it that made the statement that it takes one punch to change a fight?" and adding  "She's such a sweetheart. As an athlete you always try to do your best. Of course, you're kind of upset about it. But to lose to a sweetheart like her … she represents her sport well."


Anani with title belts
Anani with her collection of title belts
Copyrighted photo courtesy of Sumya Anani

For fight reports and  huge photos of Sumya Anani and many other women in the sport, go to the WBAN Records Member Site! 

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Page last updated:Monday December 10, 2012


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