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 5'8" welterweight (147 lbs) Deborah "Sunshine" Fettkether from Mesa, Arizona is trained at Back Alley Gym in Chandler, Arizona by Bob Karmel and Raul Monreal.

She had been into martial arts, including TaeKwondo since her early teens in Baltimore. Maryland. She began training in Shotokan after moving to Arizona and she has also trained in Wing Chun Kung Fu and Kempo.

Sunshine began training and fighting in Muay Thai when she and her then boyfriend (now her husband) decided it was an activity they could do together. They joined a gym in Tempe, Arizona, then Sunshine's trainers asked her if she wanted to compete ... and her combat sports career was soon underway!

Her first fight was a shootfighting (MMA) bout in 1997, which she lost when she was choked out with a guillotine six minutes into a scheduled ten-minute bout. (At the time she had trained only about one month on the ground and a couple of months in Muay Thai. She has since focused more on fighting styles in which she stands up).

She went on to compete as a Muay Thai kickboxer, and as an amateur and professional boxer. She became the IKF National Amateur Welterweight Muay Thai Champion and the UAKF National Women's Welterweight Champion.

She went 2-1 as an amateur boxer, her one loss coming on May 31, 1998 in the 147-lb final of the USA Boxing/Everlast National Senior Championships at the Arrowhead Pond in Anaheim, California, where she dropped a 9-4 decision to Kathy McFeely of West Hempstead, NY.

On September 3, 2000 at Harvey's Casino Hotel in Council Bluffs, Iowa, in the IKF/Ringside USA National Amateur Tournament, Sunshine (145 lbs) won the Muay Thai Rules Welterweight Division with a TKO at 0:49 of the first round over Julie Jackle (19, 5'9", 141 lbs) of Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

She made her pro boxing debut on January 25, 2001 at the Centennial Garden Arena in Bakersfield, California at 149 lbs. She lost a unanimous 39-37 decision in a four-rounder with Debbie Foster (5'10", 146 lbs) of Bakersfield. There were no knockdowns but this match was a slugfest in which both fighters landed hard blows that thrilled a vocal, enthusiastic crowd and left both of them battered and bloody. Foster was cut under her eye and Fettkether had blood streaming from her nose at the end of the bout. Foster's combination punching gave her the edge for the decision. Foster talked tough for a post-fight interview: "Hey, it's boxing, and the goal is to hit each other! She just got in one good shot and that's it. Nothing else really hurt me."

Fettkether's take was that Foster "was really tall and had awesome reach. She had the hardest punch I've ever felt, even counting all the men I've trained with. She got me really good with a straight right in the second round. I felt my knees start to give out and my eyes closed for a second. That's the closest anyone has ever come to knocking me out." Foster moved to 3-1 (1 KO) with the win.

On March 31, 2001 at the Jai Alai Sports Center in Tijuana, Mexico, Jackie Nava of Tijuana won a five-round unanimous decision over Sunshine, who was making her professional kickboxing debut.  

On July 20, 2001 at Pala Casino in North San Diego, California, Junior middleweight Summer DeLeon of St. George, Utah advanced to 7-4-1 with a 38-38,39-37,40-36 four-round majority decision over Sunshine, who fell to 0-2 as a pro boxer. Inside Women's Boxing's Ralph Gonzalez reported that "Sunshine pushed the issue by being the aggressor throughout the bout. Summer decided to box and it worked well as the Utah native caught her with well-placed shots to the face and body. Sunshine got the worst of it in the third round when Summer caught her with a perfect shot to the head that rocked (her) and probably would have put her out had the round not ended ten seconds later."

On November 20, 2001 in Zaporoskye, Ukraine, Sunshine fought to a five-round draw with Larisa Berezenko of the Ukraine in an international rules 140-lb kickboxing match. Fettkether knocked Berezenko down with a straight right in the second round and had her in trouble in the third. Berezenko tied Fettkether up in the fourth and fifth and hung on for a somewhat questionable draw, according to my correspondent, who added that Berezenko's left leg had been injured by Fettkether's kicks. Sunshine said that "other than the blatantly bad judging and decisions we were treated very well by the Ukrainians, who were great hosts, very friendly and eager to show us their country and their way of doing things." The bouts in the Ukraine were considered exhibitions by the US sanctioning body (USKBA).

On February 1, 2002 at Celebrity Theater in Phoenix, Arizona, Sunshine (154 lbs) won a four-round majority decision over Evelyn Rodriguez (157½ lbs) of New York. Fettkether's manager Debby Mauldin told me "I'd have to give Evelyn the first round ... as usual Sunshine was slow getting started and took some hard punches to the face and body from Evelyn, leaving a bruise under Sunshine's right eye. After that, Sunshine came on strong and dominated the rest of the fight. The crowd loved it. After the fight, Evelyn came into Sunshine's dressing room and asked for a rematch. Sunshine accepted without hesitation. Thanks so much to Evelyn and her team for coming all the way from New York." Fettkether advanced to 1-2-0 (0 KO) while Rodriguez fell to 1-4-0 (0 KO).

On March 21, 2002 at Celebrity Theater in Phoenix, Arizona, Sunshine weighed in at 149 lbs and evened her pro boxing record at 2-2-0 (1 KO) with a first round TKO over Christina South (151 lbs) of Oklahoma who was making her pro debut.

On April 26, 2002 at Spa Casino in Palm Springs, California, Sunshine fought a rematch with Summer DeLeon of St.George, Utah. This time they battled to a 4-round draw in an exciting welterweight bout. According to my correspondent, DeLeon was the early aggressor but Fettkether came on strong in the fourth round. One judge saw it 39-37 for Fettkether, another 39-37 for DeLeon, and the third called it a 38-38 draw. DeLeon's record was now 7-5-2 (1 KO).  [See fight report by CraigO].

Pro boxer Mary  Lehman reporting to WBAN from ringside in Palm Springs said that "Summer landed good hard rights and jabs in the first round with good countering.  Sunshine stood too much like a kickboxer ... basically only jabbed.  In the second round, Summer dominated ... with good countering and landing some hard rights.  Sunshine came on in the third round with good combinations and a lot more confidence-- Including an Ali like shuffle! Both gals throwing good straight. In the final round, Summer appeared to be tired.  Sunshine was the aggressor chasing Summer around the ring." 

Sunshine told Inside Women's Boxing: "I felt I won the fight. I don't know how anyone else could say I wasn't the aggressor. I dominated all four rounds, had her against the ropes many times throughout the fight while she stood there with her hands up. She landed a couple good jabs and one very good straight right in the third. People were saying it was possible they were getting our names ["Sunshine" and "Summer"] mixed up. We are both tall, blonde and have similar names. I know I won the fight and Summer knows also. After the decision was read, she said, 'I'm sorry. This one was yours.' Summer is an awesome person. One of the nicest we've met so far in boxing, and she is technically, very sound. But I'd been ready for an All-Out War in Chicago the week before [the fight was cancelled when she got there] and I was told by my trainer to go all out on DeLeon . . . and I did. I threw more punches, landed more, etc. There is nothing else I could've done except knock her out ... there have been bad decisions before and this one won't be the last."

On May 15, 2002 at Treasure Chest Casino in Kenner, Louisiana, Sunshine battled Dakota Stone of Seattle, Washington to a six-round majority draw in a junior middleweight bout. The crowd screamed for "one more round, one more round", at the end of the bout, and with the crowd on their feet, the fighters reportedly vowed to meet each other again. Stone's record moved to 5-1-3 (0 KO).

On June 7, 2002 at Rawhide Wild West Town Theme Park in Scottsdale, Arizona, Sunshine (152 lbs) won a first-round TKO over debut fighter Aimee Prieto (151 lbs) of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Prieto (whose name was also reported as Amy Pollard) went after Fettkether with a windmilling style but turned her back when Fettkether began to come after her, prompting the referee to stop the bout. Prieto took the hastily-arranged bout at short notice.

On September 12, 2002 at Nation Nightclub in Washington, D.C., Sunshine (150 lbs) won a hard-fought six round majority (58-56,57-57,59-55) decision over 2001 National 139-lb USA Boxing national silver medalist Kanicia Eley (147 lbs) of Norfolk, Virginia, whose pro record fell to 2-3-0 (1 KO)with the loss. According to my correspondent, Fettkether started slowly as usual and Eley was able to connect solidly early in the bout, including several hard uppercuts to test Fettkether's chin. Fettkether came on stronger and harder in the late going as Eley appeared to fade, and was able to take the fight away from Eley with a busy and aggressive finish. Fettkether is now 4-2-2 (2 KO) as a pro boxer.

Sunshine vs. Mitzi Jeter for the WIBC title
© Photograph by Tony Richard.  All Rights Reserved.

On December 21, 2002 at War Memorial Auditorium in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, Sunshine (147 lbs) won a convincing ten- round unanimous (96-94,99-91,97-93) decision over IFBA/IWBF welterweight champion Mitzi Jeter (144¾ lbs) of Doraville, Georgia for the WIBC welterweight title. Jeter fell to 16-4-2 (4 KO).

On November 21, 2002 at the Tank in San Jose, California, Julie Crockett (5'8", 142 lbs,  3-0-0 with 2 KOs) of Woodland Hills, California,  faced Sunshine (148 lbs) in a three-round exhibition.  Fettkether took the fight at the "last minute" and it was decided that the two would fight an exhibition instead of a scored four-rounder.  Both wore headgear and larger gloves (see photo below, with Fettkether at left)

According to pro boxer Kelsey Jeffries who was at ringside, "Both fighters boxed well ... Crockett moved and boxed, while Fettkether pressed the fight. I gave the edge to Fettkether as she ... had the reach advantage and landed more power shots in round three.  Both showed great skills and would be great to see in a real fight! "

On December 21, 2002 at War Memorial Auditorium in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, Sunshine (147 lbs) won a convincing ten- round unanimous (96-94,99-91,97-93) decision over IFBA/IWBF welterweight champion Mitzi Jeter (144¾ lbs) of Doraville, Georgia for the WIBC welterweight title. Jeter fell to 16-4-2 (4 KO).

On April 26, 2003 at Swinomish Northern Lights Casino, Anacortes, Washington, Sunshine won an eighth-round TKO over reigning WIBF welterweight champion Lisa Holewyne of Crawford, Texas after knocking the Texan down twice. The bout had been scheduled for 10 rounds. Fettkether added the WIBF title to the WIBC belt that she won by defeating Mitzi Jeter and improved to 6-2-2 (3 KO). Holewyne fell to 16-9-1 (5 KO).

On May 8, 2003 at Phoenician Resort in Phoenix, Arizona, Sunshine TKO'd Kitty Pugh of Southhaven, Mississippi at 0:22 in the fifth round of a scheduled six-rounder. Pugh fell to 4-1-0 (4 KO) with the loss while Fettkether improved to 7-2-2 (4 KO). Fettkether had too much power for Pugh, who was rocked repeatedly. Pugh, who had said before the bout that "Fettkether fights like a girl" and said she intended to win by her fifth knockout, instead found herself on the receiving end of a lesson in humility. (None of Pugh's previous opponents had any wins on their records!)

On July 19, 2003 at Sky Ute Casino in Ignacio, Colorado, Sunshine (146 lbs) won a ten-round unanimous (98-93,97-93,96-94) decision over Mitzi Jeter (146 lbs) of Doraville, Georgia for the IFBA world welterweight title. In this bout, which was the card's co-main event, Fettkether tried to move forward early but was met by solid rights from Jeter in the opening round. Fettkether picked up the pace in the second and began to land good combinations. Jeter was cut on the top of her head by an accidental elbow strike in the third, forcing a delay in the action, but she continued after consultation with the ring doctor and put up stiff resistance the rest of the way. Fettkether's hustle was the difference. As described by Chris Cozzone of Inside Women's Boxing, "After a while, it looked like a workout on the heavy bag: Fettkether hittin’ the body, hittin’ the arms, going to the head. Once in a while, Jeter would remind Fettkether that she could hit back, but while landing flush, her punches would rarely do more than gain her a momentary pause in Fettkether’s relentless attack." Jeter fell to 17-7-1 (4 KO) with the loss.

On October 11, 2003 at Grand Casino Coushatta in Kinder, Louisiana, a crowd estimated at 6000 saw Ann Wolfe (5'9", 161 lbs) of Waco, Texas pound out an eight-round unanimous (80-72,79-73,77-75) decision over Sunshine (152 lbs) in a catchweight bout contracted for 158 lbs. The dangers of catchweight contests were obvious as the bigger, aggressive Wolfe worked Sunshine's body hard and then moved upstairs to batter her face. Sunshine's left eye was badly bruised and swollen early in the fight, but she battled on. I received a ringside report saying "Sunshine was in over her head. She had a ton of heart, so she would never quit" Wolfe, who's angling for a showdown with super middleweight Laila Ali, improved her record to 16-1-0 (11 KO) with the win.

Lisa Holewyne takes the GBU title with a win over Sunshine
© Copyrighted photo taken by Mike Blair

On December 12, 2003 at Yakima Legends Casino in Toppenish, Washington, Lisa Holewyne of Crawford, Texas won the GBU welterweight title by a clear ten-round unanimous (98-92,99-91,98-92) decision over Sunshine. This time Holewyne dominated and bloodied Fettkether using good movement and quick combinations. Fettkether had a bloody nose as early as the second and her left eye was closing in the fifth. Holewyne tired in the late rounds but she had done more than enough for a convincing win against the fighter who had TKO'd her in the eighth last April. Holewyne improved to 19-11-1 (5 KO).  (For more of Mike Blair's photos of this fight see WBAN Photo Gallery #68 on the WBAN Records Member Site)

Sunshine (L) vs. Eliza Olson
© Copyrighted Photograph by Patricia Butaud and Janis Guidry

On February 7, 2004 at Grand Casino Coushatta Pavilion in Kinder, Louisiana, Sunshine (148 lbs) and Eliza Olson (5'5", 147 lbs) of Redwood City, California fought to a majority draw over ten rounds for the vacant IBF Junior Middleweight championship. Most reports say that the smaller Olson deserved to win the fight after working her way inside Fettkether's defense consistently to pummel her with hooks, uppercuts and straight rights. Fettkether scored repeatedly with solid lefts and rights to Olson's body and head, but Olson replied with telling right uppercuts whenever they came together. The decision was booed and Olson told a ringside correspondent "I don’t understand what they were watching. I won the end of every round and played my game inside. Anybody knows that is how you’re supposed to fight a bigger girl. I’m really disappointed." Fettkether is now 8-4-3 (4 KO); Olson fell to 7-2-2 (2 KO).

On May 20, 2004 at the Arena in Amsterdam, Holland, Lucia Rijker (134¼ lbs) of Holland won a ten-round unanimous decision over Sunshine (138½ lbs).  Rijker said of Sunshine after the fight "I was glad to have someone who wanted to fight,  so I was happy we found a great warrior." For more action photos of this fight, see Rijker's interview with WBAN's Sue TL Fox.

Sunshine later compared Lucia Rijker's punching power to that of Ann Wolfe, saying "She generates more power in her punches than Wolfe. Her right hand is by far the hardest I've ever felt. I'm sure overall Wolfe is more powerful and stronger, like the strength you'd feel in a clinch, but Rijker's technique and speed is what sets her apart. Wolfe's punches kind of push through the target, whereas Rijker's are the quick, snappy kind that shut the lights off."

On November 5, 2004 the IFBA announced that they had vacated the Welterweight title held by Sunshine for failure to defend.

When she's not training or fighting, Sunshine works the graveyard shift at a treatment center for kids with developmental disabilities.

Sunshine trainingWhen she has a fight coming up, she trains twice a day, in the morning and again at night. She runs between training sessions. Her workout usually consists of stretching, jumping rope for 30 minutes, three to five rounds of shadow boxing, pad work with a trainer (from five to twelve three-minute rounds, depending on the number of rounds she'll be fighting), heavy bag work, and sparring three times a week. (She spars mainly with men, because the other women at her gym are mostly too small to spar with her). When scheduled to box, she adds the double end ball and speed bag to her training.

And ... oh yes ... Sunshine got major press attention in October 1999 when male-female boxing was in the news with Margaret McGregor fighting Loi Chow in Seattle. Sunshine took on 160-lb male construction worker Randy Pittman in an unsanctioned kickboxing bout in a cage at the Nile Theater in Mesa, Arizona on October 21, 1999. It wasn't a match made in heaven, as Pittman listed brawls in bars as his only preparation for the "anything goes" event while the well-trained Fettkether reportedly went for two days without sleep before it owing to the intense media interest that it had generated. Sunshine dominated what little there was of the bout itself. After totally controlling Pittman with a stream of jabs and kicks, she knocked him down at 0:59 of the first round with a kick to the head. Pittman got up, staggered to his corner, and sat down looking dazed. The referee awarded Fettkether a TKO to a standing ovation from the crowd of about 500. "It wasn't much of a fight", Fettkether told local reporters, although Pittman had "got in a couple kinda sloppy punches". Sunshine was instantly famous as "the chick who KO'd the guy"!!

Sunshine Fettkether is managed by Debbie Mauldin, who can be contacted by:

email at hrdama@cs.com or dmauldin@u.arizona.edu

or by telephone at (602)-448-8791.

Sunshine can be reached by email at Knockout@prodigy.net

Other Sunshine Fettkether links

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Page last updated: Monday, 10 December 2012


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