One on One Interview
with Bridgett Riley
The "Baby Doll" is back ... even though she never left!
by Tom De Napoli
originally published on the Women’s Boxing Page
April 19, 1999
All rights reserved
If you are a fan of women’s boxing you know Bridgett “Baby Doll” Riley
and chances are 99.9% in favor that you love to watch her fight.
Her career is changing; Don King is her new promoter, she added an
additional trainer, she fought at the “Mecca of Boxing", Madison Square
Garden, and the IFBA stripped her of her championship belt.
Riley on the canvas against Britain's Aicha Lahsen
© Copyrighted photos by Mary Ann Owen
Deep down, I wondered how the Aicha Lahsen fight
had affected her. Aicha
was not a big name in boxing but obviously studied Bridgett, found a
flaw and then worked it with a powerful right hand that put Bridgett
face first on the canvas. Bridgett avenged the knockdown with a picture
book, thundering left hook that put Aicha on the canvas for two
minutes. Bridgett's left hook may be the most famous punch in women's
boxing because it erased
what would have been the most famous, Aicha's. Bridgett won in
spectacular fashion but her confidence took a blow. Getting back in the
ring would be different. Would it affect her? Would fighting for Don
King at the Garden make her goosey? And what about those pink tights
that Mia St. John wears?
You’ll find out that true grit never sleeps and there ain’t no stopping
The Energizer Bunny of Women’s Boxing.
Incidentally, Bridgett has a lot of great things happening besides
boxing. Look for her in a Twin Labs supplements TV spot. She’s the kick
boxer wailing on a heavy bag. She does stunt work for CBS’ “Martial Law”
and through all of this she dedicates some of herself to helping and
mentoring high school students and drop outs from LA’s tougher
TD: What did it feel like fighting in the
"Mecca of Boxing", The
Garden ... tell us about the
Burnside fight and your feelings about NOT being part of the pay per
BR: My feelings on fighting at the Mecca of boxing, MSG ... I compare it
Leonardo DeCaprio standing at the edge of the Titanic, arms spread
eagled, screaming "I'm king of the world!!!" :) Ok ... in my case, maybe queen.
I am happy and thankful to God and my entire team for the victory we won
Brenda Burnside. My trainers said I cut her with a left hook. I don't
remember seeing blood until the fourth round. It all happens so fast in
I do know my hooks opened it up more and more, for it became a bloody
mess. Better her blood than mine :) (Been there - done
that - not particularly crazy about doing it tomorrow) :) Brenda is a
credit to the sport, and I enjoyed the action-packed fight with her.
As far as not being part of the pay preview telecast: Three words...
WE WERE THERE!!!!!!!! We signed with Don King with a six and two
record. DK stuck to his word, and put me on THIS card. Just to be on
the Holyfield/Lewis under card is quite a statement alone. I was
pinching myself. People who know me, know I have paid dues on top of
dues, and will continue to pay them, and when it's my time to be on TV -
it will come. I am sorry for the disappointment of the people who wanted to see me. I
will try relentlessly to get there. We are on our way. I have absolutely
NO complaints. NO ONE can rob me of my joy.
TD: What are the differences in working with Don King,
say, compared to
“other” promoters ... everyone wants to make DK out to be the bad guy but I
hear he pays his fighters top dollar … describe the good, the bad and ... if
there is any ugly, tell us about that?
BR: Working with DK has been everything and more than expected to be.
We are treated with respect, and are taken care of. All business
manners are handled professionally, which is a pleasant change from past
experiences. All I can do is go on how I am treated - how my
team is treated - our immediate circle.
I'm not into gossip, hearsay, or negative "misery loves company"
I'm a big girl, know what I have gotten myself into, and my team and I
triple check everything. We're willing to work hard for every single
take forward. We're not sitting back, eating bon bons, and chillin' like
everything will fall into our laps. God willing, with hard work,
persistence, and signing with DK - we will go to the next level.
TD: A lot of "fans" take “shots” at you for taking easy fights with
DK ... right here on the Women’s Boxing Page many fans write in and spout
off about you having a easy fight and scream “mismatch” ... how do you
decide who to fight and do you have the right to NOT fight
somebody that DK wants you to fight...?
BR: You stated that a lot of "fans" take "shots" at me for taking easy
DK. There is NO such thing as an "EASY" fight. If I started thinking
way....forgetaboutit! Boxing is a risky sport. It's a gamble every
time I step in that ring. I only
had a six-and-two record upon signing with DK. People could look at my
record and easily think
they have an "easy" fight with me. Hmmmmm..... That could get them
into a lot of trouble.
For the most part I receive positive comments and a good deal of support
I truly appreciate. Everyone has an opinion and I refuse to get caught
up in the
negative. Records can be so misleading in female boxing. Lucia Rijker
fought a tough lady with a 0 and 1 record. Eva Young went the distance
with Tina Speakman,
where I got a TKO in the 2nd round with Tina Speakman. Fredia Gibbs
went the distance with
My friend, Kathy Collins also went a 10 round distance with Gerula. I
Gerula in 72 seconds of the first round. I'm not tooting my own horn
my point is - all match-ups and outcomes are different. Very different.
My manager and promoter decide what's next. I'm NOT self managed. Blinky
Rodriguez has guided me this far, and I have confidence in his decision
TD: Great careers are defined by memorable moments ... everybody points to
Lahsen fight as your defining moment but I think the Trevino #2 fight was
yours ... you called her
out even though you had beaten with feet and fists, she accepted and
when the bell rang--
BANGO, you two went at it like pit bulls stuffed into a foot locker… I
look at the fifth round in
and say that was your defining moment ... how much fun was
that fight and why?
BR: My fight against Yvonne Trevino was a lot of fun. We got down.
Nonstop action. Her style is made for me, and I enjoyed the battle. I felt
confident throughout the entire fight. I knew I had her hurt a few
times as well, which is always comforting. :) I knew I had to really go for it,
because you really have to beat a champion to take their title away from
them. It was a great moment in my life.
TD: Seldom do I hear a ring announcer talk about "Great Defense!" but I
watched the tape of
you and Yvonne Trevino and you stayed inside, blocked real sweet, jumped
in at openings,
countered like a tornado and kept almost prefect balance ... did you feel
at any time that
Trevino had "the play" and was controlling you? Did she hurt you at any
time where you
thought, "one more shot like that and I’m at trouble’s door"?
BR: I did not feel at any time during the fight that Trevino had "the
is a well conditioned athlete and keeps coming - but I felt in control
fight the entire time. She never hurt me during the fight.
TD: A simple idea … land two punches for every one of
hers … this makes you punch … did you
ever think in the Trevino fight ... dang, I’m down by one or two punches in this
round, I need to fire?
BR: I didn't feel I was down any punches in any of the rounds with
Trevino. I just kept thinking - I need to do more than win. I need to do more, more,
Riley survived an early knockdown (top)
to KO Aicha Lahsen in the ninth
© Copyrighted photos by Mary Ann Owen
TD: I call your KO punch of Aicha Lahsen a "hook to remember" … tell us
about that "feeling",
that perfect connection?
BR: Landing the hook on Aicha Lahsen: It was a moment of clarity. I
just HAD to
put her down. She HAD to pay for what she did to me in that first round.
lit a fire in me like none other. I liked that passionate feeling. I
would not settle for anything
less than a KO. I often hear, "You're in great shape to go the
distance, if the knock out comes
it's a bonus." This is good advice, but personally I want to get the
state of mind I had for the
Lahsen fight up to par every time I now step into that ring. I want
KO's. It's time to rock.
TD: Teresa Arnold made a living off of clubbing you with an odd triple
right hand combo;
straight right, a looping right and a right uppercut ... she obviously saw
something about your
left side ... how would you now handle Teresa’s attack to your left
BR: My trainers are making adjustments in the gym regarding my defense
on my left side.
Obviously Brenda Burnside did her homework in preparation for our
fight. I had seen no tape on her. I'm sure she had seen tape on me. I
heard her corner
repetitively shout "upper cut." Brenda hit me with everything she had,
and I did not get hurt. I
say thank you, because NOW I am back. I am completely confident once
again in my ability
to take a punch. Maybe that first round in the Lahsen fight lingered in
the way-back of my mind for a short while,
but it's gone NOW. My confidence once again is on fire. :) My defense
is a work in progress. I'm all over it.
TD: Footwork... hardly anybody ever talks about it but you see fighters
without their feet set or their body squared up ,,, do you think about your
feet or is just a
natural thing based on your particular training...?
BR: Lily Rodriguez and Javier Capetillo - my awesome trainers - work
with me on footwork. It's part of the total package. Gotta have it.
Lil wants me to sit down more on my punches to get more power. I have sooooo much more
power that they are going to bring out of me. :)
TD: Dancing ... do you do much? The reason I ask is that smooth movement in
the ring is so
important and young fighters have a rough time getting a movement
rhythm ... this makes
them sitting targets or slow to move into openings ... what's your secret
cuz you can move in
any direction at a good clip and your ready to punch at any moment?
BR: I don't dance nearly as much as I used to. Lilly is strict on my
extracurricular activities outside of boxing. Sacrifice just goes hand
hand with boxing. I was on the dance team "Golden Girls" in high school
for two years. We went
to camp, and I won "Universal Dance Star" in a big competition. I then
was handed an
application to audition in Chicago to be one of the instructors. I got
the position!! I taught dance for U.D.A. all over the country at various colleges one summer. It was an
awesome experience I'll never forget. I love dancing, and I love to get
my groove on!!! I believe my gymnastic and dance experiences help me in
TD: Style and image ... getting it right before the ring, in the ring and
after is important. You
have a great sense of CLASS WITH FLASH ... are we ever going to see you in
tights? Why not, you’re a great looking lady and you can back up the
sass with brass?
BR: You won't see me in tight pink "hot shorts" fighting in the ring.
You will continue to see me in flashy, bright, tasteful outfits. Boxing
entertainment. I enjoy this part of it a great deal. I am a humble
We were the first females to come out in flamboyant apparel. Some have
to "bite" on our style, but hey, that is the ultimate form of flattery.
were the originators. :) With me, what you see is what you get. It's
like over night I decided to jump on the bandwagon, and do a complete
make over for marketing. I dressed up for weigh-ins, press conferences,
- back in 1992. I remember opponents laughing at me and saying behind
my back, "ha ha
ha I'm gonna knock this pretty girl out!!" NOT he he I got a kick out
of that. It's a good lesson
on never underestimate anyone, and don't judge a book by it's cover. I
think it's a good idea to
just be yourself. I put on no fronts for anyone. I like to stay true to
my heart. I want to be taken
seriously. I am a
professional and with that come responsibilities.
TD: I’m curious ... how do you relax outside the ring? What is your idea of
a perfect day of fun,
shopping doesn’t count.
BR :I have so many ideas of a perfect day of fun. Not to sound cheesy,
perfect day is to be with my family. Being in California now for 6½
years with no family has not been easy. I enjoy renting movies, getting
eat, and vegging out in front of the fire place back home in St. Louis.
TD: Here's the fast ball ...
Christy Martin really introduced female
boxing and she helped Don
King. DK made Christy a household name but for one reason or another
Christy has lost
fans by not fighting
Lucia ... perhaps the best woman fighting in her
division. Can that same
thing happen to you and how would you handle that situation...?
BR: Christy Martin along with DK really put female boxing on the map.
Mainstream. I like the
way she fights. Everyone would like to see Martin vs. Rijker. What
goes on with Christy Martin,
is Christy Martin's business, period. I am Bridgett Riley. I am
concerned about my team and
me. I want to do my best to represent female boxing and myself in a
positive manner. I can't
future and what will happen down the road. I am concentrating on now.
Yesterday is gone, tomorrow - I don't know about, but today - I hold
accountable. I'm just taking it one day at a time, and I try not to
take anything, or anyone for granted.
TD: Let's say Bridgett Riley can fight at any weight she wants ... what
would it be, and who do you want to fight?
BR:I like fighting where I'm at, bantamweight. I think the lighter
classes are the most exciting. I like action. I will fight anyone they
put in front of me.
TD: Lets say Bridgett has a baby girl who grows up and says "Mom, I
wanna fight just like
you did…" What bits of wisdom would you give her?
BR: If I have a baby girl, who grows up and wants to fight. Wisdom I'd
her...wow, that's tuff, because I know the broken glass I've crawled
over to get
where I am, and I'm just gettin' started, ugh :)
I must back her up with whatever she chooses to do, 100%. I want to be a
good friend, and teach her to think for herself and hold herself accountable
for the decisions she makes.
We can't put too much faith in people, because we all mess up, we're not
perfect. We need to put our faith in our Lord, Jesus Christ. I'd
introduce her to God, of
course. Love is unconditional when it is true, and I will give her all
the love I've got to give.
TD: The end goal ... what is the happy ending for your career and what
events must happen
to reach that ending?
BR: The end goal. I don't think I have an "end" goal. How sad that
thought is. I think I will
always have goals till the end of my life. Part of the joy of success
is the journey of
challenges to get there. I want a lot of things. As far as
boxing,... We've only just begun, I know that's a song isn't it - sorry
for gagging you, hehe :) I'm the biggest nerd :) But really, things are
just starting to click in that ring. I want world titles with either WBA, WBC,
or the IBF. I want to keep improving and shining. An endorsement would be way-cool.
Whatever else the Lord allows to come to me. I basically want the Lord
continue to guide me, and I place my life in HIS hands. I will work
hard, and He will do the rest. :)
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Page last updated: Monday, May 24, 2004