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Bridgett Riley


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 neighborhoods.

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 view telecast?

BR: My feelings on fighting at the Mecca of boxing, MSG ... I compare it with 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 over Brenda Burnside. My trainers said I cut her with a left hook. I don't think I remember seeing blood until the fourth round. It all happens so fast in there. 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" attitudes. 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 inch we 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 fights with DK. There is NO such thing as an "EASY" fight. If I started thinking that 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 that 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 Olivia Gerula. My friend, Kathy Collins also went a 10 round distance with Gerula. I stopped Gerula in 72 seconds of the first round. I'm not tooting my own horn here, 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 making.

TD: Great careers are defined by memorable moments ... everybody points to the Aicha 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 Riley-Trevino #2 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 play." She is a well conditioned athlete and keeps coming - but I felt in control of the 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, 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. That 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 side?

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 throwing punches 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 in 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 boxing.

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 pink mini 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. NOT You will continue to see me in flashy, bright, tasteful outfits. Boxing is entertainment. I enjoy this part of it a great deal. I am a humble ham. :) We were the first females to come out in flamboyant apparel. Some have tried to "bite" on our style, but hey, that is the ultimate form of flattery. We were the originators. :) With me, what you see is what you get. It's not 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, etc. - 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, but a 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 goodies to 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 predict the 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 myself 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 weight 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 give 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 to continue to guide me, and I place my life in HIS hands. I will work hard, and He will do the rest. :)  

Other Bridgett Riley links

Page last updated: Monday, May 24, 2004


Boxer Interview by Tom De Napoli



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