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Copyrighted photo from Team Messer

 
   

Behind the scenes
in Karlsruhe

by Kim Messer
 

Three-time world champion kickboxer Kim Messer wrote to me to about her history with Regina Halmich after my Women's Boxing Page web site had carried out a poll in the summer of 1999 to see who boxing fans most wanted to see matches against the German WIBF Junior Flyweight world champion. Of 629 votes cast, Kim was a runaway first choice with 212 votes (34% of those cast).  Kim was of course more than willing to make this fight, as she had dropped a close split decision to Halmich in her own pro debut as a pro boxer. Kim sent me this avcount of her early encounters with Regina, which helped to explain why the Fireball was eager for the rematch (which never took place, although Halmich fought boxers who Kim had defeated!) 
 


I guess the first thing I can remember about my history with Regina was that I met her and Jurgen Lutz in Tokyo, Japan. We were both going to compete on what I think was the world's first All Female Kickboxing card. I was kind of hyped about that because I was the only US citizen to be invited and I got to fight again in the Tokyo Dome. If you're not way into Kickboxing you wouldn't understand what kind of a big deal that is. I mean, even Japanese men consider that to be some kind of big deal!

What else was kind of weird was that Regina was going to fight the same person that I made my debut against, Naoko Kumagai the WKA World Champion. I was up against Aya Mitsui who I'm pretty sure was in the same stable of fighters as Naoko. It was kind of cool that there were a bunch of "No Holds Barred" fighters there because the next day there was the big Pancrase event and I got to hang out with Bas Rutten, Ken Shamrock, and the guys from my gym (AMC) Matt Hume and Todd Bjornethun. Bas Rutten ended up in Regina's corner because of the Dutch German kind of relationship they had and Ken Shamrock and all the American guys cheered for me.

I ended up losing by decision and later on Matt Hume told me it was because I just didn't take it to her early enough. He said otherwise I probably would have put her away. Afterwards I kind of thought he was right because I didn't even feel tired after the last round. Regina was the main event and she got beat bad and fast. Naoko went to her body with round kicks and knees and "took her air". Kumagai was really ticked off and was shaking her head because it was a big let down.

Well anyway, that's where I met Regina. About two or three months later my manager got a call from Universum and Jurgen Lutz. They needed somebody to fight Regina for the 112 pound World Title. My manager said that when he called up Jimmy Finn, who was the President of the WIBF at that time, that he tried to talk Universum and us out of the deal because they had so many sponsors and endorsements riding on her being a champion that they had to have a win and knew how good I was. So my manager said that he used some reverse psychology on Jurgen Lutz. He said he called him up and said, "Hey, Jimmy Finn said my girl's too good and that you guys need to win, so you shouldn't fight Kim." He said Jurgen got real indignant and made the match anyway.

Two or three months later we heard that Universum had snuck behind our backs and fought Yvonne Trevino for the Title in Las Vegas ... and lost it, in a bad kind of way! So now what? They said "how about come fight for another title in Germany anyway?" They said "you don't even have to make the weight!"  My husband warned me against this, he said something like, "they don't fly you in to win" and that it all seemed really fishy. But my manager and I took it anyway.

Before we went to weigh in I don't know how many times I heard Jurgen say, "Regina must win, this is very important fight for her, Regina must win. We have lots of sponsors!" That should have given me a clue as to what I was up against right then and there. We got to Jurgen's gym for the "unofficial" weigh in and the only people in the room for that weigh in were me, my manager, Jurgen and Regina. And since they told me I didn't have to make weight I came in at about 109 or something. I remember them saying, "Wow, you did good." I think the reason they said it didn't matter was because Regina couldn't make that 108 pound division then, and the fight had to happen now.


Kim Messer and Regina Halmich square off

Well, we fought and I thought I won. But I'm not into whining, so when the reporter from the local newspaper came up to me and asked "What did you think about that decision!?" I told him that I kind of got off to a slow start and she had the hometown advantage. I mean ... what could I do? I think the reporter expected me to get really mad and rant and rave or something, but I disappointed him by being a good sport!

After the fight, when I was walking around and talking to people while the men were fighting, I met boxing promoters from Hamburg, I talked to Regina's sparring partner and a lot of the spectators and they all told me I won. That's when I started to remember what my husband had told me and thought "Yep, he was right and my manager said the same thing."

A couple of funny things happened the day after. Jurgen brought us a bunch of newspapers the next day. We couldn't read them but all of them had pictures of Regina smacking me in the face. My manager looked at the newspapers an noticed that none of them were the local newspaper from Karlsruhe and decided to try and get a copy of that one. Well it was kind of the same in that we couldn't understand it very well and it once again had a picture of Regina landing the punch but .. there was this one little line about Axel Shultz and George Foreman. My manager remembered that was when a German had been ripped off in America, and wondered why they even brought that up.

Then later on when we were looking for a place to have lunch and were standing on a street corner trying to decide where and what to eat and noticed this man seemed to be peeking around the corner at us and kind of staring. He sort of inched forward and asked "Aren't you the woman who fought on TV last night?". We said, "Yeah, that was me" and he said, "Oh my God, I can't believe you clapped for her, you were so polite! I thought you won, that was terrible!" Then he took my manager and I in and bought us both dinner and we took pictures together and had a great time. And that kind of made me feel better.

I had to wait until I got back home with that local newspaper to be able to take it to an interpreter, who by the way was an immigrant from Germany. When I got the translation back, guess which line was missing!? So I took it back to the translator with that line highlighted and pointed out that neither Shultz nor Foreman's name appeared anywhere in the copy she gave me. Her face turned really red and she seemed very embarrassed. I think maybe because she wasn't "all American" at heart and just got busted!

What burns me now though is that four years later when I've come back to my own country and beaten the World Champion here, Regina has the nerve to say I'm not a worthy contender. Yeah, that bugs me. To say you're the best and you want to fight the best, and for me to be ranked as the best in my country and then have her say, "Oh well, I've already beaten her" is a big diss. Especially after she fights Jill Matthews, who I just thrashed, instead of me. It's like when you're a kid wanting to be next to play on the pool table or something and you say, "I'm next. I play the winner!" I mean ... who the heck says "I've got the loser!"? Huh? Who the heck does that ... and then says they're the best? Get outta here!

I've spent a little time with Regina and she's nice and polite and seems like a good person. But this is the fight game, and saying "Why would I want to fight Kim Messer, I've already beaten her very decisively too" is not just disrespectful, it's also not true!

That's why I know how Pam Barker felt.

Hey! I've been there too!

Our thanks to Kim for this behind-the-scenes account and to her husband/trainer Mark for the pictures!

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Page last updated: Friday November 06, 2015

 
     
     
     
     
 

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