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Boxing Legend Christy Salters Martin Inducted in International Women's Boxing Hall of Fame
by Press Release/Brian Ackley
June 4, 2014
Photo: Mary Ann Owen
     
   
   


 

(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 earlier.

“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 Las Vegas.

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 Melinda Robinson.

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 impending meeting.
“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 SHOWTIME 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.

 
     
     
   
 
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