WBAN got an opportunity to talk with one of Trinidad's top women boxers,
Ria Ramnarine this week, and asked Ramnarine about her experiences
in boxing, especially in a country that is just beginning to take an
interest in the sport of women's boxing.
TL Fox: What made you
decide to get into boxing?
Well, I didn’t actually decide to get into boxing. At first I
started weight lifting and aerobics in the gym (Fine Line) in 1995. Two
months after that, I started Karate, and then two years later, I got into
kickboxing and I loved the full contact style of kickboxing. Due to a
lack of kickboxing opponents, my Kickboxing Coach/Manager, Bharath
Ramoutar decided to let me compete in boxing instead (I was always better
with my hands anyway)! It was then that I fell line, hook and sinker in
love with boxing. My boxing coach, Darren Vidale, works one on one with me
very often. I still kick-box if the opportunity presents itself but I
concentrate on boxing.
TL Fox: How many women
are professional boxers in
Ria: There are
between 8-10 professional female boxers, although there are somewhere
between 20-25 amateurs. The sport of boxing is now being revived in
Trinidad, especially along for women boxers. They are realizing that
boxing is no longer just a man’s sport only.
TL Fox: Was it difficult
to be accepted in the gym when you first began to work out?
Being the first girl to get into kickboxing and boxing in the gym, the
guys welcomed me. I was not the typical female so they felt quite at ease
with me, treating me as one of the “guys.” I remember thinking that I
had to prove myself to them but then I realized I didn’t have to prove
anything. The guys were good to me, I trained just as hard as they did or
even harder sometimes. And I used to surpass them in physical training
often, so naturally I gained their respect.
TL Fox: Do they have any
amateur boxing programs for women boxers in
Until a couple of months ago, there wasn’t any. Now there is a lot of
interest in the female boxers so attention is being given to them. In
fact, about two months ago three amateurs (females) took part in the
Caribbean Amateur Boxing Association championships for the first time
ever. And they did us proud, coming home with two gold medals and one
TL Fox: Do you know how
long it has been since women could legally box in
It was never really
illegal for women to box in Trinidad & Tobago, however there was no
legislation for women boxers. No rules governing women’s boxing were
established. In 1997, the first set of women boxers started, and it was
only two or three of them anyway. Today the authorities are still trying
to include clauses to facilitate the women boxers.
TL Fox: What are some of
the toughest obstacles you are facing as a female boxer in your country?
For me in particular, opponents that are my same weight. The other
professionals are out of my weight division. At 108 lbs., I usually have
to fight the bigger girls. For my last fight, I struggled to pack on a
few pounds to meet Vicki Boodram at 112 lbs, she came down also. At
weigh-in, I made 111.5 on a full stomach and she came in at 112, starved.
The difference on the night of the fight however was about 8 lbs. The
other issue is finance/sponsorship to bring in fighters and promote the
cards. As I mentioned before, boxing is now being revived in Trinidad so
we have had to work hard to make the public aware. Trinidad & Tobago is a
football and cricket country. Sponsors put their money into that sport
instead, along with basketball, golf and athletics. Hopefully after last
Saturday’s card, they’d be more willing to assist us. The supporters and
the public would pay a lot to see football and cricket accept boxing.
Although I think they are coming around slowly.
TL Fox: Do you box full
time, or do you work and box?
Ria: Box full
time, oh how I wish! If I don’t work, I’d starve! I love boxing a lot but
I have to be realistic. Right now it can’t pay my bills so I have to work.
I manage the gym. I’m there from 8am to 9:30pm, six days a week. I worked
in a manufacturing industry before, but the shift changes were really
hampering my training---so my trainer, who is the owner of the gym,
offered me the job to manage the gym. I grabbed the opportunity with both
hands and a leg! Now I get to train twice a day!
TL Fox: What other sports
have you been involved in?
really, except in the Martial Arts line: Karate, Ju-jitsu and Kickboxing.
I acquired my black belt in karate. I always loved sports, but I was not
allowed to participate in any since it was feared (by my Dad) that it
would distract me from my studies. I was on the cricket team once though,
in primary school and I also did some cheerleading in high school, (our
team came third)!
TL Fox: When you fought
Leona Brown in the United States did you give up quite a bit of weight to
Ria: Yeah. Before I went to the weigh-in I was 108lbs. We thought
if the weight difference was too much, they would not allow me to fight,
and I did not travel all the way to the USA not to fight! So, any way, I
ate a lot before the weigh-in to ensure I was heavy enough! I know now
that it was not exactly the smartest thing to do but....I am not going to
make that mistake again though. Twice was enough. As a kickboxer, I
journeyed to Canada to face Vanessa Bellegarde, the world champ in Mauy
Thai, Thai Boxing and Kickboxing for four rounds. She came in at 121 lbs.,
and I weighed a grand total of 108 lbs! We still took the fight,
actually it turned out pretty good even though I lost because everyone
thought I did an excellent job. The point is with fights hardly coming by
in Trinidad, we grabbed at any opportunity to fight back then, without
weighing the factors. Now my team thinks carefully before they agree to a
TL Fox: Who has been
your toughest opponent so far?
Ria: Toughest opponent? That’s a tough question! Maybe my sparring
partners----they are all bigger than me and they show no mercy! Leona was
hard but then again, I was under weight and not altogether totally
prepared psychologically, my mind just was not in the fight. Shondell
Thomas made me work for my victory! She was good. I don’t know really.
Most of my fights were hard fought.
TL Fox: What would you
like to accomplish in women’s boxing?
Ria: I would
like to fight as often as possible, moving on to harder opponents each
time. Under the tutelage of Darren Vidale and Bharath Ramoutar I’d like to
perfect my skills with each fight. I want to be respected as a boxer, to
be a role model to the young women and girls especially in
Trinidad and Tobago.
And eventually bringing home the world title of course!
WBAN would like to thank Ria, for taking the time to give boxing fans an
“inside” view of what is going on in
her own personal boxing career, fighting in an area that is just beginning
to show an interest in the sport. Sue TL Fox