(MAY 16) Bonnie Canino spent so
many years in the ring, she lost count of how many black eyes
But she definitely remembers the first.
“I was four, and I got my first one fighting against my
brother,” she recalled.
Canino, nicknamed “The Cobra”, will be one of seven inaugural
inductees in the International Women's Boxing Hall of Fame on
Thursday, July 10 as part of the festivities at the women's
national Golden Gloves championships in Fort Lauderdale.
She made her name first and
primarily as a kickboxer, in large part because there were so
few opportunities for women in the regular boxing ring. She was
drawn to the sport via the magic of Muhammad Ali as she watched
“The Greatest” in the early 1970s.
As a kickboxer, she fought a who's who of the sport including
Lisa Howarth, Bridgett Riley, and most notably, Kathy Long and
fellow inductee Lucia Rijker. In all, she compiled a 27-4
She may be the only fighter who matched up against both Rijker
and Christy Martin, although for fight fans, neither
unfortunately came in a boxing ring.
She fought Rijker for the ISKA kickboxing title, losing a
decision, and had a self-proclaimed four-round “gym fight” with
Martin (tapes of which, for those who are interested, can be
found on You Tube) in 1991. It was around that time, she also
had two exhibition kickboxing matches against a man, Jesse
Chaves, because there were so few opportunities for women in the
“Kickboxing was what was happening then, I had six world title
fights in one year,” Canino recalled.
As a kickboxer, she snagged two world championships, and as a
boxer, she won belts from the IFBA and WIBF.
Canino's professional boxing resume covered 15 bouts (11-4),
highlighted by two bouts with Chevelle Hallback, a fight against
Beverly Szymanski, and match up against Deidre Gogarty on March
2, 1997, a year after Gogarty's landmark fight against Christy
What otherwise might have been considered the pinnacle of
Canino's boxing career instead turned out to be one of its
Canino signed to fight for a purse of $9,000, but never was
“I lost my world title, I got a broken nose, and I never got
paid. It was a disaster,” she said.
Her biggest payday, $7,000, came for her first fight with
Chevelle Hallback. Her biggest kickboxing matches – Rijker and
Kathy Long at Ceasar's Palace – brought purses more in the range
of $1,500. To make weight against Rijker, Canino remembers
putting fishing weights on her before the weigh in.
Ironically, it was another sport that helped mold her fighting
Born in Miami in 1962, it was the girl's basketball team at
Coral Gables High School (Canino, now 52, and her teammates won
a state championship in 1979) which proved to be her salvation.
“I was 11 or 12, and I was becoming a bully, I wanted to fight,
I wanted to get out there,” she said. “Thank God for basketball.
I went out there on the court and the girls ran me over, they
beat me up. I thought I was tough.”
She managed to make the team that first year, but spent much of
it on the bench.
“Next year, I started,” she added. “It made me focus, and
graduate with honors. I never missed a day of school. When I was
12 or 13, I was almost a drop out. My coach made me fight. That
She has operated her own gym since 1985. Like her time in the
sport, even that was a struggle in the early years.
"The first four years of my career, I lived in the gym. I
couldn't afford a place,” she said
She is no stranger to halls of fame, being inducted into the
Martial Art Hall of Fame in 2004 and the Broward County,
Florida, Hall of Fame in 2008. She is also an author, having
published “The Body” which is an illustrated guide to boxing
She is owner of a karate and boxing gym in Dania Beach, Florida,
and has trained two world title holders since retiring from the
sport. She is a two time USA team coach for the World Games, and
six times since 2006 has been the promoter for the Women's
National Golden Gloves championships. In karate, she holds an
eighth degree black belt.
Being part of the inaugural IWBHF class is one more milestone in
a career full of them.
“I'm a very humble person, I've always worked hard and kept
moving forward,” she added. “I don't make a lot of noise about
myself. So I am greatly honored.”
IWBHF TICKETS TO INDUCTION
Induction Ceremony at the
Hyatt Regency Hotel, (Pier Sixty-Six), in Ft. Lauderdale,
Florida, in a history first, the International Women's Boxing
Hall of Fame [IWBHF] will take place from 11:00 a.m. to 1:30
p.m. [Huge Poster with more
info for Tickets]
We will be inducting our 2014 class of inductees, that will be
the following: Christy Martin, Bonnie Canino, Lucia Rijker,
Regina Halmich, Christy Halbert, Barbara Buttrick, and
posthumous JoAnn Hagen. The inductees will either be
present, or we have a representative that will accept their
award. The event will be Live-Streamed.