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Chevelle Hallback: "The Right Way"
by Bernie McCoy
January 6, 2012


(JAN 6) So we come to another end-of-year award season in the sport of Women's boxing; a search for the high points in a rather desultory twelve months in a sport that desperately needs to be more concerned with it's future than it's past. Shortly after exchanging holiday wishes on the first day of the new year, the fighter tells me, "I don't care about awards, about title belts, I care about the sport that I have dedicated a big part of my life to, I care about making a breakthrough for that sport from where we are now to where we deserve to be."

Photo by Tony Duffy

I'm talking on the phone with Chevelle Hallback, from her home in Tampa, FL and her words were prompted by a question as to how she keeps going after fourteen years in the most brutal of female sports. "I got started a bit late in boxing, I'll turn 41 this year, " Hallback continues, "but I feel as good as I ever have and as far as the sport is concerned, I'm convinced it's still there for anyone who wants to take it and who is willing to step up and grab it. Will 2012, with the Olympics, be that breakthrough year? We'll see, the amateur programs have improved a lot since I started in 1997. I didn't spend much time as an amateur, there just wasn't that many opportunities then. Now, it's the Olympics and that's great, but the sport still comes down to the fighters who are willing to do the "right" things necessary to make this sport as good as it should be."

Photo by Sue TL Fox

And Chevelle Hallback has been doing those "right" things for the fourteen years she's graced the professional boxing ring. One month after her pro debut (February 97), Hallback stepped up, way up to her second bout with a fighter not many female boxers were eager to see across the ring: Lucia Rijker. Hallback took Rijker into the fifth round of a scheduled six, before being stopped. It's instructive to note that, despite numerous attempts, Rijker never agreed to a return bout. Since the Rijker fight, Chevelle Hallback has amassed 37 pro bouts, encompassing 238 rounds in a career that is a primer for how to do the "right" things in the sport of Women's boxing. How right? Hallback's total career, to this point, of 39 fights and 244 rounds, have been fought against boxers who had a combined winning percentage of 62.2%. Significant? This year's WBAN FOY, the deserving Anne Sophie Mathis, compiled her 26-1 career record against fighters with a winning percentage of 59.7%. Hallback set the standard for looking up in the rankings for opponents and has maintained that ethos throughout those fourteen years. In 2011, she sought out Cecilla Braekhus and Myriam Lamare and traveled to Europe to fight each of these two elite boxers.

Asked if she resents the fighters who, today, increasingly seem to take a somewhat easier, more gilded path to title fights, Hallback replies, "Not really, I don't blame any fighter for taking any fight, we have bills to pay, rent to make and taking fights is the way to do that. If the bout happens to be for a title belt against a less than top contender, so be it. That's not the fighter's fault, that's on the people who own the belt, the sanctioning bodies, they make that call. It's probably something that needs to looked at more closely, if our sport is going to present the best product to the fans, because mismatches being presented as title fights do nothing good for the sport. But blame the fighters? No! Fighters fight. Blame those people who only climb in the ring to award those shiny belts and get their picture taken with the winner."

As far as Chevelle Hallback continuing to climb in the ring, she speculates, "Probably another two years. I feel great now and when I don't, it'll be time to stop. But right now, what I want is an opportunity to fight either Braekhus or Lamare again. I dropped both decisions and I'm not going to whine about that, but I'd really like to have another shot at Myriam Lamare. I felt the judges overlooked the effectiveness of my body punches in that bout (in November, in France) and I do know that those two judges who gave her (Lamare) nine and eight rounds (respectively) missed most of the damage I was doing inside. (a third judge had it 96-94, Lamare). "I was the only one who made it to the post fight press conference. She's a good fighter and we'd put on a good return bout and that's what this sport needs most right now, good bouts."

If indeed, Mathis/Holm II happens in the near future, Hallback/Lamare would be a very compelling supporting feature bout, maybe even compelling enough for the new head of HBO Sports, Ken Hershman, to reconsider his network's antediluvian position on female boxing.

The attitude of always looking for good fights against the best available competition, is the essence of what Chevelle Hallback is all about. She's been doing exactly that for the fourteen years she's competed as a professional fighter and her banner clearly reads, "I'll go anywhere, I'll fight anybody." She did it with Rijker at the start and continues against Braekhus and Lamare now. Chevelle Hallback not only knows how to do it right, she goes out and does it right. And so, in this season of rewards for yearly accomplishments, let's think about an award for the year after year accomplishments of Chevellle Hallback. Maybe we call it "The Right Way" award, not only because it perfectly summarizes Hallback's career, but because she probably deserves to retire that particular trophy.

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