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© Copyrighted photo taken by Mary Ann Owen


5'4" Tracy "The Lady" Byrd (b. August 27 1964) is a former City of Flint, Michigan police officer, the mother of one son,  and has been the IFBA and IWBF Lightweight and WIBO Super Lightweight champion.

Tracy Byrd with father JoeHer father and trainer, Joe Byrd, was the 1992 Summer Olympics Boxing official trainer. Her brothers, Chris (Olympic Silver medalist and 23 - 0 pro record), Tim, and Patrick are all boxers.

This close-knit boxing family has formed Byrd Boxing, Inc. and the Joe Byrd Academy in Flint, Michigan where young men and women are taught the art of boxing. Tracy's sister Laurie Byrd plays for San Jose in the American Basketball League.

Tracy made her pro debut in August 1996 and initially got media attention by appearing on the same cards as her brother Chris. The novelty of brother-sister matches got her in the news, but several of Tracy's early fights were laughers against badly overmatched opponents, who included the inexperienced Kathleen Ridell and Shannon WIlliams (both of whom she dispatched by first-round TKO's)  and crossover kickboxer Sue Chase, who she defeated on points in two four-rounders, the second dropping Chase's record to 0-8.

On March 18, 1997 at the IMA Center in Flint, Michigan she weighed in at 134 lbs and won a second-round TKO over Vicki Woods (136 lbs), another crossover kickboxer making her pro boxing debut. Woods's punching skills were well short of what was required to slow down Tracy. This bout was seen on Cable USA's Tuesday Night Fights.

Tracy's competition went up a notch when she fought Filipina Dee Dufoe in the inaugural IFBA card in Reseda, California on May 17 1997. Although making her own pro debut, Dufoe had the skills and strength to hurt Tracy and to test her ability to stand up to punishment. Tracy upped her own fight in response to come away with a unanimous 6-round decision and an IFBA title shot against Nora Daigle.

Tracy won the IFBA lightweight title with a convincing but tough 10-round decision over unbeaten Canadian Nora Daigle on August 2 1997. Daigle, a crossover kickboxer who had experience against such stars as Kathy Long, had won all of her three pro boxing fights by kayo and was no easy match for Tracy. But Tracy is an aggressive fighter with good boxing fundamentals who was able to stay on top of the gutsy Daigle and keep a hard-fought bout under control most of the way. Daigle fell to 3-1-1 with the loss.

On October 24 1997 in Atlantic City, New Jersey, Tracy dispatched Bethany Payne of Atlanta by fourth-round KO in an IFBA Lightweight title defense. Payne, an unskilled fighter who was regularly being fed to serious competitors as an easy "opponent", fell to 2-5.  

On June 30, 1998 in Atlantic City  Tracy (132 lbs) faced much more serious compeition when she lost the IFBA lightweight title to Zulfia Koutdoussova (134 lbs) of Moscow, Russia, by a clear 10-round unanimous decision. The durable (and younger) Koutdoussova used her reach advantage well to control this fight. Tracy's usual aggression seemed to desert her in the late going as she failed to put enough pressure on Koutdoussova and seemed to be worn down by the Russian's steady body punching.

On November 13, 1998 at Jackpot Junction in Morton, Minnesota, Tracy (134 lbs) won a 10-round unanimous decision over Corrine Geeris (134 lb) of Amsterdam, Holland for the vacant IWBF Lightweight title. Veteran kickboxer Geeris suffered her first pro boxing loss in dropping to 3-1-1. Byrd's "stick and move" style kept Geeris frustrated and unable to land anything heavy as Travy moved in and out landing quick flurries. Geeris, boxing with a three-jab-and-a-right style couldn't find the answer for Byrd and as she faded in the later rounds Tracy boxed her way to the decision and the IWBF title.

On March 11, 1999 in Tunica. Mississippi, Tracy (135 lbs) won a 10-round unanimous decision in a rematch with Vicki Woods (135 lbs).

On July 24, 1999 in Flint, Tracy won an eight-round unanimous decision over Shakurah Witherspoon of Pennsylvania, who dropped to 4-13-1.

On September 2, 1999 at the Gold Strike Casino in Tunica, Mississippi, Tracy suffered her second pro defeat. She lost a clear (99-91, 98-92, 97-93) unanimous decision to unbeaten Laura Serrano of Mexico in a ten-round tilt for the IWBF Intercontinental Lightweight title. Serrano moved her own pro record to 7-0-1.

On May 19, 2001 at Sky Ute Casino in Ignacio, Colorado, Tracy (a trim 129¼ lbs) made her ring comeback after a long layoff by handily defeating Brenda Vickers (129 lbs) of Tampa, Florida to take the vacant IFBA Intercontinental Junior Lightweight belt. Byrd used body punching to wear down Vickers for the 98-92,100-90,97-93 unanimous decision. Vickers fell to 4-3 (1 KO).

On July 7, 2001 at Sky Ute Casino in Ignacio, Colorado, IFBA Featherweight champion Layla McCarter (5'4", 125 lbs) of Las Vegas retained the belt with a 10-round unanimous decision Tracy (125½ lbs) McCarter did, in her own words, "just enough to win", and knocked Byrd down with an uppercut and a jab in the fifth round of their Main Event. McCarter at times looked tentative against the more aggressive Byrd. Byrd expressed her disappointment at the decision, saying that she thought she had pressed the fight and landed the more solid blows. McCarter moved to 9-5-2 (2 KO's), while Byrd slipped to 12-3-0 (4 KO's)

On February 28, 2002 at Wyndham Inner Harbor in Baltimore, Maryland: A full house of 500 saw Isra Girgrah (130¾ lbs) of Hyattsville, Maryland defend the UBA Lightweight title with a 10-round split (97-92,95-94,94-95) decision over Tracy (132¾ lbs). Byrd was knocked down by a hard right in the third round after taking the fight to Girgrah for the first two rounds. Byrd got up and took a standing eight count. The action was close the rest of the way but Girgrah used her boxing skills to keep a tenacious Byrd at bay in the later rounds and eke out the decision. Girgrah advanced to 19-3-2 (9 KO) with the win, while Byrd, #4 in the same rankings, fell to 12-4-0 (4 KO).

Girgrah, who said that she was trying to pace herself as she hadn't been in the ring for nine months, praised Byrd after the bout, saying "She's an excellent fighter, one of the best, and I'm glad I had a chance to fight her. I think they saw that she might have been the busier fighter, but that I landed the cleaner shots. I think the knockdown helped a lot." Tracy's boxer brother Chris felt that she had been denied a decision, saying "Tracy pulled out of a clinch and got caught with a right hand. We knew Isra had a good right hand, but I thought Tracy controlled the remaining rounds. Tracy landed the power shots. She was the aggressor. Isra landed one power shot."

On April 26, 2002 at Ramada O'Hare in Rosemont, Illinois, Chicago-based IWBF Lightweight titlist Zulfia Koutdoussova of Russia (136½ lbs) won a six-round unanimous (59-55,59-55,59-55) decision over Tracy (135 lbs) in an exciting six-round rematch of their 1998 IFBA title bout. Both are best known for boxing skills, but the Russian again showed she was the more precise puncher and outworked Byrd in a hard-fought slugfest. Koutdoussova improved her record to 13-3-0 (4 KO).

Tracy ByrdOn February 15, 2003 at Caesar's Palace in Las Vegas, Nevada, former IFBA Featherweight champion Layla McCarter of Las Vegas won a six-round majority (58-56,58-56,57-57) decision over Tracy. Both boxed cautiously at first but the bout turned into a clinch-fest in the later rounds, apart from a rousing finish as Byrd tried to outslug McCarter to tip the scales on the scorecards. [Fight Photos]. McCarter improved to 13-9-4 (2 KO).

On March 7, 2003 at City Center Pavilion in Reno, Nevada, Layla McCarter (132 lbs) won a six-round split decision in a quick rematch with Tracy (132 lbs). of Flint, Michigan, improving her record to 14-9-4 (2 KO). This was Byrd's third loss to McCarter.

On March 22, 2003 at Mandalay Bay Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada, Tracy (134 lbs) came off the canvas in the second round to win a ten-round split (95-94,96-93,94-95) decision over previously unbeaten Agnieszka Rylik (137 lbs) of Poland in a bout for the WIBO Super Lightweight title. Rylik, who was fighting with a leg injury and appeared to be trying to rest while Byrd mounted her mid-fight comeback, fell to 13-1-0 (11 KO). Byrd took the fight on one week's notice and said that she wants to retire after appearing on the same card with her heavyweight champion brother Chris.

© Copyrighted photo taken by Mary Ann Owen

On April 26, 2003 at the Stratosphere Hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada,
Tracy and Layla McCarter fought for the fourth time, this time in a four-round exhibition! 

On June 28, 2003 at Coconut Creek Casino, in Miami, Florida, Belinda Laracuente (129 lbs) of Puerto Rico and Tracy (129½ lbs) fought to an eight-round draw (77-75,75-77,76-76). Laracuente, sustained a broken eardrum and was kept on defense for most of the bout by Byrd's aggressive head and body attack. Byrd controlled the early going with her jab and a strong left hook that landed frequently to Laracuente's head, but the elusive Puerto Rican also scored with some nice combinations in the third. The middle rounds were evenly fought with both getting in some solid shots at close quarters but Byrd generally looking stronger and beating Laracuente to the punch. Laracuente may have saved the fight by coming on strong in the final round, and peppering Byrd with combinations. Byrd felt that she had done enough to win the bout, saying "someone call the cops, I just got robbed". Laracuente is now 20-5-2 (9 KO) and Byrd 13-7-1 (4 KO).

Tracy went into semi-retirement after rupturing her Achilles tendon during a police Olympics.  She moved to Las Vegas where she works as a school police officer, and hoped to make a pro boxing comeback on February 18, 2005. "I'm coming right behind George Foreman," she joked. 

vs. Kara Ro in February 2005
© Copyrighted photo taken by Wyoman Mitchell

Her opponent in an eight-rounder for the WIBA Intercontinental Lightweight title at the Michigan State Fairgrounds in Detroit would be rising Canadian star Kara Ro from across the river in Windsor, Ontario. However Ro, who trains at Detroit's Kronk Gym, proved that she belongs in the top ranks of lightweights as she cruised to a 79-72,79-74,78-73 decision. The 5'8" 29-year-old Ro had more power in her punches and sent Byrd to the canvas with a long right in the sixth, while Byrd was unable to get inside Ro's defense enough. Ro improved her pro record to 12-0 (7 KOs).  (For more photo coverage of the fight by Wyoman Mitchell, see Photo Gallery #245 on the WBAN Member Site).

Tracy vs. Valanna McGee in August 2005
© Copyrighted photo by Jesus Sanchez

On August 26, 2005 at the Radisson Hotel in Sacramento, California, Valanna McGee (134 lbs) of Sacramento won a clear (60-54,59-55,59-55) six-round unanimous decision over Tracy (132 lbs). According to WBAN correspondent Jesus Sanchez, "Tracy went at Valanna the entire fight and established the pace but Valanna landed the more meaningful punches. There were no knockdowns." Valanna improved to 11-2-1 (5 KOs).

On April 1, 2006 at the Sky Ute Casino in Ignacio, Colorado, Laura Serrano (123½ lbs) of Mexico City returned to the ring after an almost three-year absence and won by a TKO over Tracy (129¾ lbs) when Byrd did not come out for the fifth round. According to ringside reporter Chris Cozzone, "Serrano showed a little ring rust in the first, but was not shy in mixing it up against Byrd. Working off the jab, she took on the role of aggressor, throwing right hooks and left hands but leaving herself open up the middle, which the crafty Byrd took advantage of—she was light on the jabs, but was able to score with her straight right. By the second, the fight was proving to be a real crowd pleaser and the two went at each other in the middle of the ring for the entire round. You could see the rust flakes chip away off of Serrano, as she took the fight to Byrd, who was on the defensive, firing off an occasional jab or straight right until the final moments when she let loose with a volley that momentarily turned the fight around. There was great back and forth action in the third round, with Byrd landing more rights and utilizing that long, effective jab in between Serrano’s barrages, making it a close round. In the fourth, however, Serrano had her best round. Although Byrd unleashed enough right hands to keep her in the fight, Serrano was now starting to wear her down." After Byrd did not come out for the fifth, she told Cozzone: “My legs were cramping.”  Byrd also took the microphone and announced her retirement. Serrano moved to 16-2-2 (6 KOs) while Byrd's final record was 13-10-1 (4 KOs)

Tracy told WBAN in 2010: "I began at the age of 32 and endured 10 years in the 2nd best sport of my life, next to basketball...I was able to travel all over the world and took pride in being a "trailblazer" for other women.  Since retiring, I have been mentoring and providing boxing/fitness to youth.  I am the President/Director of a non-profit youth program called UBEAR, INC (You Be Educated, Athletic and Resourceful) and am a personal trainer".

To check out fight reports, complete up-to-date boxing records, with huge digital photos you can go to the WBAN Records Member Site

Many thanks to Carole Byrd of Atlanta for some of the information used here!

Page last updated:
Monday, 10 December 2012


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