5'6" featherweight Valanna
“Dynamite” McGee from California was born on November 21, 1980. She went 6-1 as an
amateur boxer before starting to box professionally in July 2002.
She grew up in Redding, California and was a competitive gymnast
“until I became too tall”. She also competed
in track and field and says that she loved sprinting, high jump, and long jump, where she
was “always the strongest and fastest”.
Valanna first put on boxing gloves when she was 16 years old, after a friend from High School asked her to go the
gym with her. Valanna says that at the time she didn’t like boxing, and could not understand why two people would
want to hit each other and get hurt. But she went along anyway “just to try something new.” By the end of the
night, the trainer she worked with was telling her “you're going to be a world champion someday”. Valanna didn't take
him seriously, but she still trained for about six months and began sparring with a girl who had been fighting as an
amateur. “I didn’t want to look like a wimp so I did it and from that day on I was hooked. even though she kicked my
butt”, says Valanna. “When I was sparring I noticed that when ever she threw she would drop her right hand. I
started thinking 'I need to throw a left hook'. I noticed that I had to
make her miss to land a good punch and that’s when it hit me ... this is what
boxing is all about.”
From then on, Valanna says, she was on a mission to learn to box “to make my
body do what my mind knew I should do.”
At the time she did not have access
to boxing gyms with “real training”. “We had heavy bags but no sparring
and no training. I thought that I would never get the opportunity to
become a professional boxer but I managed to have a small amateur
career. My one loss was when I learned about home town decisions.”
Valanna made her pro debut on July 19, 2002 at Feather Falls Casino in Oroville, California, against rising
welterweight Eliza Olson of Downey, California. Valanna lost by a four-round unanimous decision that moved Olson's
record to 6-1-0 (2 KO). The more experienced Olson was the aggressor for much of the fight but a correspondent
told me that “McGee showed good skills for a debut
Valanna told me that this was a tough fight for her because she had had a
baby six months before and wasn't in the best condition. “I weighed 145 pounds and I flat out was not in shape.
By the second round I thought I was going to die, I was so tired. I basically
took that fight just to say I did, so I could always say I had a professional
However, far from being discouraged, Valanna found that her pro debut
“brought back the old feelings
that I felt when I fought as an amateur. And I decided that night that I was going to continue to be a professional boxer.
I knew that I needed training. We got in contact with Nasser Niaveroni and
almost a year later my fiancé, my daughter and I packed up and moved to
Sacramento to start training and start my boxing career.”
Valanna returned to the ring on May 28, 2003 at the Radisson Hotel in
Sacramento, weighing in at 131 lbs and squaring
her pro record at 1-1 with a four-round unanimous decision over Nicole Beard (138 lbs) of San Francisco, who fell to
1-6 with the loss.
On August 23, 2003 at Gold Country Casino in Oroville, California, Valanna won a four-round unanimous decision over
Prouder of Los Angeles, dropping Prouder's pro record to 8-12-1.
On September 19, 2003 at Centennial Garden in Bakersfield, California,
Valanna weighed in at 126 lbs and took on IFBA Featherweight champion Kelsey Jeffries (125
lbs) of Gilroy, California. Despite taking the fight in Kelsey's original home
town on just three days' notice, and it being only her fourth pro bout
(at left in picture) battled Kelsey to an eight-round split (77-75,78-74,75-77) decision. McGee hurt Jeffries
with a right to the jaw in the opening round but Jeffries began to come back in the third despite often being beaten
to the punch by McGee. The middle rounds were hard fought with both landing effectively but McGee
tired in the late rounds and Jeffries held on for a narrow win that moved her to 22-8-0 (1 KO). Jeffries said of McGee:
“She's a good fighter, but I felt I did enough to win the bout. I felt she was holding a lot
and I was the aggressor.” McGee told local press “Being this is where she
was from, I knew I had to knock her out to win. You just learn from this
and go on.”
Valanna later told me: “After that fight I
honestly thought that I won but two of the three judges thought that I didn’t.
It kills me to look at that loss on my record. I can admit that I did start to
fade in the later rounds but I still felt that I did enough to win and so did
the hundreds of people in the audience that came up to me after the fight. I had
people that said they were there to support Kelsey but I was robbed. Next time I will
have much more time to prepare, there is no way she can
On October 24, 2003 at Feather Falls Casino in Oroville, California, Valanna (127 lbs) won a six-round
unanimous decision over Mexican-born Miriam Rosario (5'2", 128 lbs) of Los
Angeles (at left in photo). Rosario was at a reach
disadvantage and had to try to work inside McGee's defense. McGee was forced into close quarters action and clinches
with the busy Rosario, but she mixed it up well to earn the decision and dropped Rosario to
a 1-3 (0 KO) record.
On November 28, 2003 at Radisson Hotel in Sacramento, California, Valanna weighed
in at 134 lbs and won a four-round unanimous decision over unranked Sosadea Razo
(135 lbs) of Santa Rosa, California. Razo fell to 1-4-0 (1 KO) with the loss.
On May 6, 2004 at Marriott Hotel in Irvine, California, on a card promoted by Golden
Boy Promotions, in a scheduled four-round undercard bout, Valanna and Rolanda Andrews of
Atlanta, Georgia, fought for two rounds before the bout was stopped due to a cut over McGee's
left eye, resulting in a technical draw. Andrews moved to 6-7-1 (3 KO).
On July 8, 2004 at ARCO Arena in Sacramento, California, Valanna (127 lbs)
TKO'd Cindy Christian (122 lbs) of Tulsa, Oklahoma at 0:40 in the second round of a scheduled
four-rounder. Christian fell to 0-1-1 as The
bout was originally planned as a rematch with Rolanda Andrews, but Andrews
backed out and Christian stepped in as a replacement.
On December 10, 2004 at Arco Arena in Sacramento, California, Valanna (127 lbs) knocked out Mercedes Mercury (128 lbs) of Denver, Colorado at
0:24 in the fourth round of a scheduled six-rounder. The referee didn't
bother to count and the ringside doctor rushed into the ring seconds after McGee
dropped Mercury on her back with a
stunning right to the head. McGee improved to 6-2-1 (2 KO) as Mercury fell to
3-7-0 (1 KO).
On February 3, 2005 at the Arco Arena in Sacramento,
California, Valanna (131 lbs) TKO'd Tawnyah Freeman (128 lbs) at 1:50 in the
third round of a scheduled six-rounder. Freeman, a former Toughwoman
contestant from Arkansas, had a big punch but little more, and her fight
plan appeared to be limited to moving in aggressively hoping to land a single
KO shot. McGee countered with straight punches and defense, survived
taking one Freeman haymaker without flinching, and began to break Freeman
down in the third round. The fight was stopped after Valanna landed a
hard body shot in the third. Freeman fell
to 4-1-0 (3 KOs).
On April 21, 2005 at Arco Arena in
Sacramento, California, Valanna (129 lbs) knocked out Lisa Pederson (130
lbs) of Las Vegas, Nevada in the first round of a scheduled six-rounder.
Pederson fell to 2-4-1 (0 KO's).
On May 27, 2005 at Arco Arena
in Sacramento, California, Valanna (129 lbs) won a six-round unanimous
(60-54 on all cards) decision over Amber Gideon (129 lbs) of Chicago, who
fell to 1-2-0. McGee improved to 9-2-1 (4 KOs) with this win.
On June 18, 2005 at Win River Casino in Redding, California, Valanna won the
vacant GBU Junior Lightweight title when Jayla Ortiz
of Santa Fe, New Mexico retired after the fourth round.
Ortiz could not
find the answers for McGee's jabs and hooks and was in trouble against the
ropes with McGee working her body in the opening round. McGee knocked
Ortiz down with a left to the head in the second and rocked her with a right
uppercut that left her wobbly at the end of the third. McGee continued to
dominate in the fourth after opening the round with a hard right to Ortiz's
chin, and the round ended with Ortiz in obvious trouble as McGee landed
combinations almost at will. Ortiz fell to 11-8-4 (3 KO's) with this loss.
Valanna vs. Tracy Byrd in August 2005
© Copyrighted photo by Jesus Sanchez
On August 26, 2005 at the Radisson Hotel in Sacramento, California, Valanna
(134 lbs) won a clear (60-54,59-55,59-55) six-round unanimous decision over
40-year-old Tracy Byrd (132 lbs) of Flint, Michigan.
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) while
Byrd fell to 13-9-1 (4 KOs). For more photo coverage of this fight see
WBAN Members Site Photo
Photo courtesy Valanna McGee .
3, 2006 at the Win-River Casino in Redding, California, In what
was called the "fight of the night" Belinda
Laracuente of Miami Forida fought Valanna to an eight-round (78-74
Laracuente, 78-74 McGee, 74-74) draw. McGee showed her punching power in
the early going but Laracuente turned it around in the later rounds. Laracuente's
record moved to 22-12-3 (9 KOs), McGee's record moved to 11-2-2
Valanna spars mostly with men
“because there aren’t enough women fighters out there. I am the only female that
competes at my gym. But I do work with other females, like I have left hand only
they have both. Or they have offense and I have defense. I use what ever I can
get. All the men in the gym are totally supportive of me, even though they say
they wouldn’t let their girl friends or wives be fighters. They all give me
advice. Everyone believes that in time I will be a champion.”
"I keep hearing that my technique is good,"
says McGee. "I have a lot of speed and power ... I throw a good
left jab, but my favorite punch is the straight right. I like to rock
the girls with that punch."
trainer Nasser Niavaroni said McGee "wasn't very skilled when I got her. She weighed 142 pounds and was winging her punches. But with the right training and conditioning, the extra pounds came off easily, and she's still strong."
Valanna is in the gym five or six days a week. She does her boxing workout and weight training for 3½ hours a day.
She runs six days a week, doing her running by time and intervals, not by distance.
definitely have to eat well and
take multi vitamins to stay strong”, she told me..
I asked Valanna how she balances being a mom to her daughter
Chayla and being a boxer.
“Being a boxer and a mother is great,” she says,
“it is the hardest but most fun jobs you can have. If it wasn’t for my fiancé I
probably would not be able to box. He works while I stay home and take care of
our daughter and while I box. I am lucky to have him.”
She adds that boxing has made her life different because she was in
the foster care system from age 13 to 18.
“Anyone in the system knows you move around a lot. I can’t even count how many
families I lived with. If it wasn’t for boxing I think my life would have gone
down a totally different path for the worst. Boxing gave me a reason to want to
do good and stay out of trouble and to be happy. I think that to be a happy
person you have to feel that you are good at something or like doing something
if it’s boxing, reading, writing, singing or whatever it may be.”
Valanna has some advice for anyone who's thinking about
taking up boxing. “You can have all the talent in the world but if you are not
in shape it is useless. It’s like having a Ferrari in your garage with no gas in
it. My coach Nasser told me that once and I tell myself that every time I wake
up and don’t feel like running.”
"In boxing it has taken a long time to get where I am and I still have a long
way to go”.
Her goal as a boxer is “to beat the best and to be the best. I know that I
have talent that no other female has, all I need is more experience so that I
can calm down and relax when I am in the ring. Right now I am just looking for
experience and wanting to get better. Although every morning I get up to run I
do think about a rematch with Kelsey Jeffries. I know with time to prepare for a
rematch she doesn’t stand a chance.”
"Boxing is something I totally love," she said. "Now, I want to see how far I can go."
More Valanna McGee Links
To check out fight reports, complete up-to-date boxing records, with huge digital photos you can go to
the WBAN Records Member Site
Page last updated:
Tuesday December 11, 2012