In August of 1978, Cathy "CAT" Davis was
the first woman to ever make it on the cover of RING MAGAZINE. Unlike the response
the public had over the highly publicized 1996 SPORTS ILLUSTRATED issue of Christy Martin,
you would have thought that the world had come to an end.
After CAT was featured on
the front cover, RING MAGAZINE, which was only trying to be fair to women and display one
of the more note protest of RING
doing such a thing. In that era, RING never showcased another female.
CAT DAVIS and two other boxers, Lady Tyger Trimiar and Jackie Tonawanda took it upon
themselves to fight for and finally achieve the right to box in New York State, after
a supreme court ruling. Some highlights of CAT's career--she KO'D Lavonne Ludian on 4/10/81 in the third round at the Mid Hudson Civic
Center, Poughkeepsie, New York State. She weighed 136 1/2 lbs. for the fight, and
Ludian came into the fight weighing 6 1/2 lbs. more at 143 lbs. Cat fought
Uschi Doering of Germany in 1979, and stopped her in a six-round
bout. She had a very questionable fight decision with Ernestine Jones, when it was
reported that Jones TKO'd Cat, and then the fight decision was changed to a "no
contest." Her record is reported to be 15-0.
5, 1978, Sunday,
Copyright 1978 The Washington
The Washington Post
February 5, 1978, Sunday, Final Edition
SECTION: Sports; E4
LENGTH: 966 words
HEADLINE: Woman Boxer Proves Hype to
Gate As Sport Returns to N. Carolina
By John Feinstein, Washington Post Staff Writer
It has been almost 100 years since a professional boxing match had been
held in Fayetteville, N.C. Boxing had been illegal in Cumberland County
from 1880 until early in 1977, when the ban on the sport was lifted.
In September, boxing returned to Fayetteville. But only a few more than
1,000 people showed up at the Cumberland County Memorial Arena for the
For their second show in November, Ringside Promotions Limited decided
it needed a hype for its program.
The hype is decided on was Cat Davis.
Cathy (Cat) Davis, who is 5-foot-10 and 135 pounds, is the women's
lightweight boxing champion of the world. Her three-year record is 6-0.
But few have heard of her. When she boxed Margie
Dunson in Fayetteville Nov. 11, the crowd was about 1,000.
Davis, 25, a native of Winfield, La., and a drama major at the University
of New Orleans, is aware of the struggle of women's boxing, but doesn't
find the odds insurmountable.
"When I first got involved in boxing, I never even gave a thought
to the sex barriers," she said from her New Jersey training camp
recently, where she was preparing to compete in the Women's Superstars
Competition. "I was really just in it for the exercise.
"The thing the women have to do to gain recognition and to get
people out to watch is prove that this isn't like wrestling - that this is
a real sport and we're real athletes."
There appears to be little doubts that Davis is a real athlete. She
originally got into boxing as a means of having skills as a fencer, a
sport she has worked at for the past eight years.
"Actually, I just took up boxing because I thought it would be a
good trainer for my fencing," she recalled. "I just went into a
gym and started working out.
I enjoyed it and I was pretty good at it, so I kept at it."
The gym was in poughkeepsie, N.Y. The man running the gym was Sal
Algieri, and it was Algieri who set up Davis's first exhibition match. Now
he is her manager, and her fiancee.
Algieri and Davis are currently battling the New York Boxing Commission
and its head, Floyd Patterson. Patterson doesn't want women boxing in New
"Patterson claims women shouldn't fight for medical reasons,"
Algieri claimed angrily. "What medical reasons? If Patterson wants a
court fight, we'll give him one. Personally, I plan on writing a letter to
the governor calling for his removal."
If women's boxing is to establish itself, the New York commission will
be just one of many obstacles it will have to overcome. Right now,
the sport is struggling to establish itself as a draw among fight fans.
"We decided to give the women a shot in Fayetteville because it
would be something new, a novelty," explained Ed McCarthy, public
relations director for Ringside Promotions. "I guess you could say it
was an experiment.
"We were hoping with all the army men there are in this area we
could draw. But they have amateur boxing at Fort Bragg that's free.
The women just didn't draw. Actually, they've never drawn anywhere."
Not exactly. Davis says the biggest crowd she has boxed in front of was
8,000 last summer in Seattle.
"It's going to get better," Davis said. "If the women
work at making it better, that is. I think potentially women's boxing
could be a better draw than men's boxing. Most of the people who watch
boxing are men and women and prettier than men."
Davis is testimony to that. With large, dark eyes, long brown hair
falling below her shoulders, and a slender figure, she is certainly far
more attractive than the average boxer - male or female.
But when Davis and Dunson headed the card in Fayetteville in November
they hardly provided the meager crowd an opportunity to become enamored of
the female style of boxing.
It took Davis exactly 2 minutes 34 seconds of the first round to knock
out her opponent from Maine. The result pointed up a major problem for the
women - there just aren't enough good boxers around to schedule many
fights that will be competitive.
"I know that if you put two boxers out there and one has four or
five years experience and the other is just starting you're going to have
a boring match," Davis conceded.
"But I think more good women athletes will turn to boxing when
they see it's legitimate. I mean, you can only have so many tennis
"Boxing is a contact sport and women are going to need an outlet
when they want to get into contact sports. I think boxing can fill that
need very well."
Davis makes constant reference to the importance of the women proving
themselves to be "legitimate." This appears to present a
problem. McCarthy referred to the women as "a novelty." Clearly,
a sport must prove itself to be more than a novelty in order to succeed.
"But you know Cat is a very good promoter for the sport,"
McCarthy pointed out. "When she was down here, we took her around to
promote the fight and she was just terrific. She's bright and articulate.
She's one of the best things women's boxing has going."
But it is the limelight of the big cities that Davis is striving to
reach. Headway has been made. There is now a women's boxing
federation in New Rochelle, N.Y., and women are beginning to receive
rankings in the different divisions, like the men. More importantly,
purses are improving.
"When I first boxed, between the traveling and the rest of our
expenses, Sal lost money," Davis remembered of her beginnings.
"Now the purses are getting better and so are the crowds. There's
still work to do, though."
Convincing promoters that women boxers are more than a mere novelty,
convincing boxing fans that it is worth good money on a regular basis to
watch the women box, and convincing the media that women's boxing is
deserving of regular coverage, are the keys for the sports.
GRAPHIC: Picture, Cathy (Cat) Davis, is en route to a first-round
knockout of Margie Dunson in North Carolina bout. "This isn't like
wrestling- . . . this is a real sport and we're athletes," the native
of Winfield, La., says. "Actually, I just took up boxing
because I thought it would be a good trainer for my fencing." By
A special thanks to the Washington Post for covering women's boxing
in the past when many of the media would not do so. Sue TL Fox