In 1985, she achieved black belt in karate and in
1989, she became the Norwegian national champion in kickboxing. And
ultimately, she became the World Champion in kickboxing in Berlin, 1991.
During this time, she also competed as an amateur boxer winning the
"Norway Box Cup" in 1988; and as a team captain, represented
Norway in the first international competition held for women in Sweden in
Along with her boxing career, Helga was running her
own advertising agency. From 1987-92 she was a board member in The
Norwegian Amateur Boxing Association fighting for women's boxing. She was
the only woman in the world to be a board member in an amateur boxing
The International Amateur Boxing Federation banned
women from competing in boxing internationally in 1991, and since
professional boxing is not legal in Norway, the only way she could
continue boxing was to leave the country.
After moving to the U.S., Helga wound up in Los
Angeles and started to train at her hero Benny The Jet's gym. A boxing
trainer, Herchel Jacobs "adopted" her and she started to train
There were no women's boxing at all at the time in
the U.S. For one year she had to network across the U.S. to find women
boxers and promoters that were willing to put a bout together. Boxing
promoters laughed at her, and people did not take her seriously.
Meeting Don King
Don King had a
press conference in Los Angeles, and Helga went. She introduced herself as
a professional boxer, and King smiled. He invited her to come to Las Vegas
to meet him the following weekend. Helga rented a car, drove through the
Mojave desert and went to the fights at the Mirage
hotel where Chavez was the headliner. Don King and Helga were
sitting privately, talking for two hours. She finally asked him, "Are
you willing to put two of the best women's boxers on your card?". He
sat quietly, thinking for a long time before he answered "Yes, I will
do that, send me some tapes of your fights".
Fighting for Top Rank
She never sent Don King the tapes, because right
after that she got her first fight with Top
Rank on March 4, 1993. This fight was held at the Aladdin Hotel in
Las Vegas. Most people had never seen women boxing before so they were
stunned and surprised. Helga moved to Las Vegas and continued to box.
Her third fight was showed on national television,
and other promoters began to put women boxers on their cards. Don King
kept his word and signed up Christy Martin, who is an exciting fighter to
watch. Women boxing started to take off seriously.
Since Helga Risoy was one of the first women boxers
in the new generation of women boxers she always had to prove to everyone
that women should be in the sport of boxing. The commissioner Marc Ratner
in Nevada said, "Helga Risoy was the first woman to fight in Las
Vegas in almost twenty years, she is one of the true pioneers, she started
She participated in the first professional boxing
match for women in Mexico, December 12. 1994. Also she went back to her
Scandinavian roots, and fought the first professional women bout in
Denmark, October 21. 1995.
Hard road to go…
It was not easy to get fights. After fighting for
Top Rank, Helga began to fight for other promoters as well. She was at the
gym every day, but no fights. About 90 % of the fights she was promised
She waited and trained and trained and waited, and
it was frustrating and hopeless. Time was running out for Helga, who now
had been training and fighting for 20 years. She said in an interview
following her last fight, "Both my hands and my right elbow have been
bothering me for the last two years. I am now losing to girls that I
probably would have easily beaten as an amateur, so it is time for me to
" hang them up", for good".
Helga Risoy retired as a boxer in 1997, but is
still living in Las Vegas. She is currently working as an international
matchmaker/media coordinator for Emanuel Steward, her former trainer.
Helga Risoy visiting her former training companion Lennox Lewis, and her former trainer
Emanuel Steward. Helga is now working for for Emanuel
Steward. To visit Emanuel's website, go to, www.Kronkgym.com