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Brown Expects a Busy and Title Filled 2007!
By: Rick McLean
Photos: Durell Wambolt
January 14, 2007

     
   
   
   
   

(JAN 14) I recently had a chance to sit down with up and coming prospect Natalie “Too Bad” Brown at Chris Johnson’s Fighting Alliance boxing gym in Mississauga, Ontario, Canada. As a professional the 28 year old Brown is currently 4-0, with three of those wins coming by way of knockout.

Brown is an accomplished amateur boxer and mother of one who is eagerly anticipating her first world title shot. Brown wants the opportunity to fight for a world title this year and feels that she has the right attitude and skills to put it all together. According to Brown she,  “will out work you, pick your brain as an opponent, and at the end of the day wants it more.”

In 1998, Brown got into boxing by taking aerobic kickboxing classes in Atlanta, Georgia, to get in shape and fell in love with the sport.  It was there she met her future husband Chris “Mr. Showtime” Johnson. Johnson won a bronze medal in boxing at the 1992 Olympics for Canada and is a former WBF and NABF Light Heavyweight champion. Johnson explained to Brown that she had a lot of potential and that she could make it to the Olympics one day. It was always Brown’s dream to someday go to the Olympics so she listened to Johnson and took up competitive boxing.

However, women’s boxing was not and still isn’t an Olympic event so like many women Brown’s dream was not realized.

Johnson had trained Brown early on in her career however due to his busy schedule as a professional boxer he could not put in the time required to adequately train Brown so he introduced her to a new trainer Johnny Gant. Brown said “Gant was my amateur trainer and the best thing for me and he took me where I needed to go.”

Natalie had won her first amateur match by knockout however she lost her second bout but gained tremendous experience from it. “I lost because I got tired but what made me want to continue in boxing was that I refused to go down. I took my beating like a woman and I realized that this was something I was going to stick around for and see how good I could be at this sport and I wanted to see what my best was.”

After that bout Natalie pushed forward winning the National Golden Gloves in 2000. Brown felt her experience at the Golden Gloves made all the difference in her career. “It was there things started to click for me, I was able to calm down, think and fight in the ring and that took me to a whole other level and it made me a more composed fighter in the ring.” This “never give up” attitude paid off for Brown; she amassed an outstanding amateur record of 54-3 and is a multi time National champion and won 2 silver medals at the World Championships, one for Jamaica and the other for the United States.

Brown took a couple years off after getting married to Chris Johnson and having her first child Omar. Some people had told Natalie that she should give up boxing and focus on being a mother full time however this idea did not sit well with Brown. Natalie was inspired by many of the women she had met or competed against during her amateur days such as Carina Moreno, Jill Emery, Ann Marie Saccurato, and Yvonne Reis just to name a few. Each of these women made successful transitions into the pros and Brown felt that she could do the same.

Since turning pro in January of 2006, Natalie Brown has put together 4 straight wins with three of those victories coming by knockout. Natalie has fought all of her professional bouts at the Little River Casino in Manistee, Michigan. When asked about fighting at the Little River Casino Brown responded by saying: “I love that place! Ever since my first fight the people there were so welcoming of me.

A lot of places look at the women’s bouts as a side show but the people at the Little River Casino respect my abilities and what I can do inside the ring. They appreciate what I do and I love them for it!”

When asked who Brown would like to face in 2007 her eyes lit up! “I want to fight the top 3 girls in the 135 lbs and 140 lbs divisions. I’d like to get in there with Ann Marie Saccurato and Eliza Olson. I just found out the girl from Japan, Emiko Raika won the W.I.B.A Lightweight title. I’d like to see what she has for me and try to take that title!” When it comes to the Welterweight division Brown knows exactly who she wants to square off with. “Going into the 140 lbs division I’d like to face Myriam Lamare, I know her from the amateurs too, from the worlds, I’d like to get a piece of her!” Brown goes on to say that she wants to fight Anne Sophie Mathis and Duda Yankovich as well.

Brown is no stranger to being in the ring with a world champion. In 2005, she had a four round exhibition with the always dangerous Super Featherweight and Lightweight World champion Jelena Mrdjenovich (18-2, 11 KO’s). Natalie was supposed to have her second fight against Cynthia Jones in Alberta Canada last year however it fell through. Mrdjenovich was also unable to find an opponent for the card that night.

Brown said that she had been back in fighting shape for only two months at the time and felt that some of the people there tried to play mind games with her. Examples given to me by Brown were that some of Mrdjenovich’s people were trying to get into her head by saying that she has a big left hook and can throw hard body punches. Natalie also stated that she was given a thin headgear and Jelena was given a better one. Brown was not intimidated by stepping into the ring with Mrdjenovich, in fact her manager told the media there at the time that Natalie was willing to have a 10 round match up with her.

Brown felt the bout started out fast and was entertaining but “I realized that people can really write a cheque for you that you’re a$$ can’t cash and that’s what they did for Jelena because on that night you could hear a pin drop in the arena, they couldn’t cheer for her because the world champion could do nothing against me and I had only 1 fight.” Natalie went on to say that she gained a lot of respect from people in Jelena’s backyard and that she is looking forward to fighting back in Alberta in the future.

Natalie was supposed to box Windsor, Ontario, native Kara Ro (14-0, 7 KO’s) for the W.I.B.A. 130lbs Intercontinental championship on January 12th in Michigan however due to a back injury Ro had to pull out of the fight and it is unlikely the fight will take place in the near future. After observing Ro’s last match Brown was very optimistic on her chances of taking that title and is disappointed that the bout will not be taking place. Brown wondered why the former Lightweight world champion wanted to have this fight at 130 lbs. “Does she think this will give her an advantage or sap me? I was told she is walking around at 130 lbs and if so then why doesn’t she fight at 126 lbs then? I’m willing to go down but at 130, but I feel that she is using weight to try to run away from me. I think that she feels I will not be able to make that weight and she is using it to get out of this match with me.”

In addition this bout was especially personal to Brown because she felt Ro had invaded her territory in Manistee. “That’s where my fans are and I have to defend my ground. I have to show my fans that I am willing to defend my ground. She is not going to slip in there and take my spot. I was left off of the last show so I got to feel that she is trying to take over my spot and that is what I’m thinking about when I’m training, sorry Kara!” Brown stated. Natalie commented further by saying that this fight does not have to take place in Manistee. “In her parents back yard I will beat her! I am very confident in my skills!”

In her spare time Natalie likes to draw, write music and play the violin. She is always in the gym to stay and shape and is looking to improve as a boxer. Natalie wants all promoters out there to know that she is calling out all of these women who hold titles or any woman out there in her weight division and that she is willing to fight in Europe and travel to other women’s backyards to get those fights.

Rick McLean:
riggs196@hotmail.com
Interview conducted on January 11, 2007

 
     
     
   
 
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