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Retired World Champion Bonnie Canino Inducted into the History-First International Women's Boxing Hall of Fame!
Press Release/Brian Ackley
May 16, 2014


(MAY 16) Bonnie Canino spent so many years in the ring, she lost count of how many black eyes she had.

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 kickboxing record.

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 sport still.

“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 Martin.

What otherwise might have been considered the pinnacle of Canino's boxing career instead turned out to be one of its lowest moments.

Canino signed to fight for a purse of $9,000, but never was paid.

“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 career.

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 changed me.”

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 fundamentals.

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.”


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.

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