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One on One Interview with one of  Trinidad's Top Women boxers!
By Sue TL Fox
July 19, 2003
 
 
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?

Ria
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 Trinidad? 

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?

Ria:  No. 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 Trinidad?

Ria:
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 silver. 

TL Fox: Do you know how long it has been since women could legally box in Trinidad?

Ria:
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?

Ria
: 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?

Ria: None 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 fight her?

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 fight.

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 Trinidad, and her own personal boxing career, fighting in an area that is just beginning to show an interest in the sport.  Sue TL Fox

 
     
     

 

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