(JUNE 4) During the fight –
and it was a peppery Pier Sixer even the skeptics had to admit –
there didn't seem to be anything particularly unusual or
noteworthy, say nothing of historic, going on.
There was blood, buckets of it, and a knockdown, generally six
rounds of boxing mayhem. Or, in Christy Salters Martin's world,
just another day at the office.
“So many of my fights had been just like this,” she said of her
bout March 16, 1996, against Deirdre Gogarty. “I just thought,
'Wow, this is another hard fight.' And she was there to fight.”
Only after the bout, back in the calm of her MGM Grand hotel
room, two defining but wildly divergent moments painted a much
clearer picture of what had transpired in the ring a few hours
“Before I got back to my room, my
voice mail on the hotel phone was already full, and it was full
with people like the Jay Leno show, and they wanted me to come
to New York to be interviewed by Katie Couric,” she recalled.
“At first I thought it was a joke, but then I called the PR guy,
and he said, 'Christy, this is real. The buzz is unbelievable.'
Even to this day, it's hard to believe. I just wanted to be a
good fighter and put on a good show.”
Featured on Sports Illustrated - Christy Martin-1996
The second moment was much
scarier and much more personal.
“I thought after the fight I was going to die,” she recalled. “I
was in the shower and my body just started shaking, like
convulsions. I never had it before that, and I'd never had it
since. I gave all I have. I left it all in the ring that night.”
Martin had come into the desert ring that night unbeaten in 27
straight fights (one was a draw). Twenty two of them were first
round knockouts or stoppages.
Just last year, she finally had a chance to spend some
appreciable time with Gogarty, delivering a message more than 15
years in the making.
“I got to talk to her one on one and tell her how appreciative I
was of her, just for being so damn tough. I had so much respect
for her. I just wanted to tell her thank you,” she recalled.
No professional women's boxer has made more money in the ring,
been more prolific, or help foster acceptance of females in the
sport to a broad and most times appreciative audience, more than
Christy Salters Martin.
She will be in the inaugural class July 10 of the International
Women's Boxing Hall of Fame. Tickets are $35, and includes
brunch and the induction ceremonies at the Hyatt Regency Hotel
in Fort Lauderdale.
Her ring career spanned almost 23 years, from Sept. 9, 1989 in
Bristol, Tennessee to August 13, 2012 in Friant, California, a
total of 59 fights, 285 rounds. The final ledger: 49 wins, seven
losses, and three draws. No less than 16 of her fights were in
Without question, her glory years came in the mid 1990s, when
she fought for promoter Don King. She signed with the most
important non-boxer in boxing in 1993, more than three years
before she was paid $15,000 for her win over Gogarty. So
impressed was the general public, and King, that her purse was
four times that in her next outing, a four-round knockout of
She first met King, ironically, in Fort Lauderdale, about a
three hour drive from her then hometown of Orlando. And heck yes
it was plenty enough time for her to get uptight about the
“Absolutely. I'm from a very, very small town in southern West
Virginia, and here I am, driving down to meet Don King,” she
recalled. “I was a nervous wreck. Here's little ol' me about to
sit across the table from Don King. In some ways, you could look
at it like I didn't have anything to lose, but at the same time,
I thought if he says no, then where do I go next? So, really, I
had everything to lose.”
The get together didn't have an auspicious start. She had
brought with her a highlight tape to show King, but his offices
were so new at the time, his VCR hadn't been hooked up yet. But
a little shadow boxing in King's office was enough to convince
him to sign her.
Mike Tyson was supposed to be the star attraction on that Las
Vegas night ( a bout that lasted under than three less than
memorable rounds against Brit Frank Bruno) but the women –
Christy and Deirdre -- stole the show.
“That was the moment of sink or swim,” she recalled of the
telecast. “I think there was one fight (after hers) and then
Tyson. I wasn't the opening bout. The arena was getting full,
there were all these movie stars, and sports stars, it was like
a scene out of movie for me.”
As was common in those days, Salters Martin knew little about
her opponent that night.
“I knew more about Beau Williford, her trainer and manager, than
I did about her,” she joked. “I never dreamed that it was going
to be such a historic fight.”
In all, she would fight eight years under the King banner, a
total of 27 fights. Despite her popularity in Las Vegas, the
largest purse she got from the flamboyant promoter came on May
12, 2001, a quarter-million dollar payday for her 10-round win
over Kathy Collins.
Perhaps her second most notable fight came on Aug. 23, 2003, in
Biloxi, Mississippi, a four round knockout loss to the much
larger Laila Ali.
“I didn't actually realize how big she was going to be,” she
said. “I got caught early, and I was never able to recover. I
really thought I could beat her. I really thought she'd never
been hit like I was going to ht her.”
For a variety of reasons, some
personal, Salters Martin said she is looking forward to the
induction ceremony, and sharing things there that for many years
were kept bottled within her.
“It's so awesome to be in the first class. It's pretty cool. I
haven't always been able to stand up for women and women's
boxing as much as I would have, but I had a pretty controlling
manager. Many times I didn't get to say what I truly felt, but
I'll get to do that in July,” she said. ““There are times I look
back now and see all the doors I did help break down,” she
added. “So much has changed and improved, and I think I played a
little part in that.”
IWBHF TICKETS TO INDUCTION
CEREMONY: GO TO
www.iwbhf.com for 2015!
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.