5'6" junior welterweight Sumya "Island Girl" Anani
was born in Minnesota on February 12, 1972. A yoga instructor and
massage therapist, she competed as a weighlifter for 18 months, and
began to box professionally in the summer of 1996.
Anani first came to prominence
in tragic circumstances a few months into her boxing career. In her
fourth pro bout she faced novice welterweight Katie Dallam at the
Firefighter's Union Hall in St. Joseph, Missouri.
dominated the fight (against an opponent who got her pro boxing license
only the day before) and won by TKO in the fourth round.
Dallam, badly overmatched,
had fought with a a bloody nose for most of the fight ... but suffered
a hidden injury that was almost fatal. She collapsed in her dressing
room after the fight, fell into a one-day coma, and required surgery
for a major cranial bleed.
Anani put this tragic
experience behind her and moved on to build an unbeaten record that
earned her a shot at Christy Martin.
In an unusual twist for a pro
boxer, Anani is a practitioner of the healing touch, a holistic healing
Interviewed by the Kansas
City Star in the aftermath of the Dallam bout, Anani said: "
I know that's why I'm here. People always say, `Why am I here?' I know.
I'm here to tell people that life is in their health. People make
themselves sick. I'm hear to spread the word that they don't have to
live with the pain."
Ironically, she says the
publicity that she received after the Dallam fight gave her an
opportunity to tell more people about healing touch.
Sumya Anani's early ring
- On August 12,
1996, she won a 4 round decision over Jessica Breitfelder.
- On August 27,
1996, she won a 4 round decision over Jessica Breitfelder.
- On October
16, 1996, she stopped Valerie Almack in the second round.
- On December
12, 1996 in St. Joseph, Missouri, she stopped Katie Dallam in the
- On March 19,
1997 in Omaha, Nebraska, she won a four-round decision over Shelly
- On April 2,
1997 she won a 4 round decision over Ashley Needham
- On September
30, 1997 at the Station Casino in Kansas City, she knocked out former
WIBF lightweight champion Stacy Prestage, also of Kansas City, in the
fourth round; Prestage fell to 9-4-2 with the loss
- On November
15, 1997, she knocked out Charlotte Esparza in the first round.
- On January
31, 1998, she stopped Loretta Kay James in the first round.
- On March 28,
1998 at the Market Center in Kansas City, Missouri, she won a six-round
unanimous decision over
Anani was originally set to
fight Christy Martin on November 13, 1998 in Las Vegas, but the bout
was cancelled at short notice when Martin backed out, claiming illness
but evidently around a dispute over her contract with Don King..
Anani vs. Christy Martin
on December 18, 1998
showdown finally came at the War Memorial Auditorium in Fort
Lauderdale, Florida on December 18, 1998. Anani (138¾ lbs) bloodied
Martin's nose in the first round and traded with her on equal terms in
the second. Martin went down in the second, but referee Tommy Kimmons
ruled it a slip. Anani went after her hard in the third, staggering her
and handing out punishment with Martin reeling against the ropes.
Martin rallied in the fourth to rock Anani with strong rights to the
head. Martin continued strong in the fifth and sixth and tried to outbox Sumya in the seventh but Anani made her
own comeback in the eighth and ninth, fearlessly moving forward, landing heavily and backing
Martin up. Anani finished strongly and when it was all over a battered and weary Martin
sported a bloody nose and a swollen right eye while Anani was almost unmarked.
Judge Stu Winston scored the fight 95-95. Jay Kassees and Ric Bays
scored it 96-94 for Anani, handing Martin her first loss since November
"I thought for sure
it was over when she was on the ropes", Anani said. "It's
overwhelming. I'm surprised. I thought I would have to knock her out to
get the win."
pt 1] [Video
pt 2] [Video
pt 3] [Video
Sumya Anani vs.
Denise Moraetes on March 12, 1999
On March 12, 1999 at the
Roseland Ballroom in New York City: Sumya (at 140 lbs) won a clear
eight-round unanimous decision over
(5'4", 139 lbs) of Augusta, Georgia by a 78-73 margin on all three
scorecards. Anani quickly found the openings left by Moraetes' looping
rights and tagged the former U.S. amateur champion with solid
throughout the fight. A left
hook to the jaw decked Moraetes in the fourth (see picture) but she
fought back fiercely to keep herself in it. Moraetes rarely found a way
to land on Anani without taking straighter, heavier shots in return and
was badly bruised and swollen under her left eye by the end of the
fight. The bout was seen live on ESPN2's Friday Night Fights.
On March 23, 1999 at the Park
Place Hotel in Kansas City, Missouri, Sumya won an eight-round
unanimous decision over veteran Dora Webber of Patterson, New Jersey,
who fell to 12-5-2.
On June 11, 1999 at the
Horseshoe Casino in Bossier City, Louisiana: Sumya won a clear
ten-round unanimous decision over Dora Webber to take the IFBA
Intercontinental Junior Welterweight Title. Anani ground down the
plucky but overmatched Webber with her precise punching and relentless
pressure. She again showed rapidly improving ring generalship and a
solid chin when she needed it against Webber's hard shots. This rematch
dropped the amazingly durable Dora Webber's record to 12-6-2.
On June 25, 2000 at Majestic
Star Casino in Gary, Indiana, Sumya won a six-round unanimous decision
over Vicki Woods of Chattanooga, Tennessee. This was a tough fight that
tested Anani, who was knocked down in the first round but came back to
send Woods to the canvas in the final moments of the bout. Woods is now
On September 17, 2000 at
Harrah's Casino & Hotel in St.Louis, Missouri, underdog veteran
Britt Van Buskirk
of Carbondale, Illinois moved her pro record to 9-10-1 with a six-round
split decision over Anani, who suffered her first loss in seventeen
bouts. "It was close," said Anani afterwards. "I'm really ashamed of
myself because I didn't fight the way I fight. I've talked to a lot of
boxers and they say everybody has one fight like that, but you only get
one. That's how I feel. It usually takes a few rounds for me to get
loose, size her up, and see what's happening, and it was only a six
round fight. I'm in good shape. I should be fighting ten rounds. If it
would have went ten, I would have come back and done my thing."
On May 11, 2001 on the Charity
Fight Night X card in Tulsa, Oklahoma, Anani bounced back
from this first loss. She weighed in at 135 lbs and won the IBA
lightweight title with a clear (96-94,98-92,99-91) ten round unanimous
decision over former US amateur champion Liz
Mueller (5'4", 133 lbs) of New London, Connecticut, who
dropped to 6-2 (2 KO's).
On October 21, 2001 at Seven
Feathers Hotel and Casino in Canyonville, Oregon, Sumya (142½ lbs)
avenged her only defeat by posting a ten-round (100-90,100-91,100-91)
Britt Van Buskirk
(141 lbs) of Carbondale, Illinois. Anani won a vacant GBU welterweight
title with the win, and moved her pro record to >18-1 (6 KOs);
Van Buskirk fell to 10-14-1 (5 KOs).
On November 16, 2001 at the
Convention Center in Austin, Texas, Sumya Anani battled former world
kickboxing champion Fredia Gibbs
of Los Angeles to an exciting ten-round majority draw
(94-94,94-94,96-92 Anani) which left the 140-lb WIBA World title
vacant. Anani and Gibbs traded throughout the fight, with Anani trying
to confuse Gibbs by switching to a southpaw stance at times. Anani
landed the better shots in the second round but Gibbs came back on the
third and fourth behind her jab and hard rights to Anani's head. Anani
worked inside and came back in the fifth but Gibbs continued to work
her jab effectively in the sixth and seventh. Anani picked up her pace
in the eighth and ninth but it was Gibbs who finished stronger in the
final session. Anani is now 18-1-1 (6 KOs) while Gibbs is 7-1-1 (2
On February 1, 2002 at
Bricktown Coca-Cola Events Center in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, a sellout
crowd of 900 saw Anani (143 lbs) emphatically erase the memory of her
only loss as a pro boxer with a lop-sided eight-round unanimous
decision over Britt Van Buskirk(144
lbs) of Carbondale, Illinois. Anani totally controlled the action for a
shutout 80-72 decision on all three scorecards in this second rematch
of the two welterweights. Van Buskirk fell to 10-15-2 (5 KOs) with the
loss, while Anani progressed to 19-1-1 (6 KO's).
On June 21, 2002 at the
Convention Center in Waco, Texas: Sumya (140 lbs) stopped Jane Couch (138½ lbs) of the
U.K. at 0:51 in the fourth round to take the WIBA junior welterweight
(140-lb) WIBA title. Women's Boxing Page
correspondent Kevin Cockle
wrote: "A hammering left hand from the southpaw
stance staggered Couch and sat her stupefied in the ropes, right arm
draped over a middle strand, and brutal follow up punches bashed home
as Anani made no mistake. Maybe a dozen unanswered lefts and rights
swivelled Couch’s head and put her out on her feet, finally eliciting
action from the ref ..." Couch fell to 16-4-0 (7 KO).
On November 2, 2002 at the
Palace in Auburn Hills, Michigan, Sumya (144 lbs) knocked out WIBF
welterweight champion Lisa
Holewyne (144 lbs) of Austin, Texas at 0:59 in the fifth
round of a scheduled 10-round bout for the vacant IBA world
welterweight belt. Anani had now snared the WIBA Junior Welterweight
and IFBA Intercontinental Junior Welterweight titles and progressed to
21-1-1 (8 KO) while Holewyne fell to 16-8-1 (5 KO).
On April 18, 2003 at Palace
Indian Gaming Center in Lemoore, California, Sumya (141 lbs) won by a
TKO at the end of the first round over
Fredia Gibbs (140 lbs) of Marina del Ray, California when
Gibbs was unable to answer the bell for the second round with an injury
to her right hand. Gibbs was in obvious pain as her right glove was
removed. The first round had been an ugly grabby affair with Anani
moving forward swinging looping punches with her head down while Gibbs
grabbed on to her and worked her body. This was a disappointing rematch
following their ten-round draw in 2001. Gibbs fell to 9-2-1 (2 KO).
Sumya lands a left on Lisa
Copyrighted photo taken by photojournalist J.P. Yim
On April 24, 2004 at the
Staples Center in Los Angeles, California, Sumya (142 lbs) showed no
ring rust at all while winning a clear six-round unanimous (60-53)
decision over Lisa Holewyne
(144 lbs) of Houston, Texas in front of 17,000 fans. Anani pressured
Holewyne moving forward steadily with her duck and weave style while
Holewyne backed off looking to counter. Anani stepped up the pressure
in the second and third, scoring with her left while Holewyne countered
with her right. Holewyne was knocked down by a hard left in the third
round, but she battled on gamely and was able to tie Anani up to
survive the round. Anani went to Holewyne's body in the fourth while
Holewyne countered with uppercuts and clinching. Anani continued to
pursue relentlessly and land combinations for the rest of the fight but
she could not put Holewyne away as Lisa focused more on defense and
occasionally looked to land her counter right. Anani is now 23-1-1 (10
KO) while Holewyne fell to 21-12-1 (5 KO).
“She’s a tough girl. A real good fighter”,
said Anani after the fight.
“She fought me differently this time,”
Anani said. “She was moving a lot more in this fight. She’s
improved her footwork, she was giving more angles.” (See full
report by Mara Castillon and
WBAN Photo Gallery #165 on the
WBAN Records Member Site).
Sumya Anani vs. Stephanie Jaramillo in Kansas City
© Copyrighted photo taken by Lori Steinhorst
On December 3, 2004 at the
Municipal Auditorium in Kansas City, Missouri, Sumya (140 lbs) defended
her WIBA Junior Welterweight world title with a convincing
(100-88,100-88,99-89) ten-round unanimous decision over Stephanie
Jaramillo (140 lbs) of Albuquerque, New Mexico. Anani was the
aggressor throughout the bout while Jaramillo spent much of it trying
to avoid hard shots and looking to catch Anani with counterattacks.
Sumya bloodied Jaramillo's nose with a series of lefts in the fourth
and knocked her down near the end of the ninth. Jaramillo, who was in
survival mode by the end of the fight as Anani went for the KO, had a
point deducted in the final round for holding. Anani improved her
record to 24-1-1 (10 KO's) with the win while Jaramillo fell to 4-2-1
Jaramillo took the fight at
about 8 days' notice after Darys Pardo of Colombia, Anani's originally
scheduled opponent, had visa problems getting into the USA. Jaramillo
had been training for a bout in Trinidad that was canceled after she
had flown there, and stayed in training to fight Anani.
On January 22, 2005 at Grand
Coushatta Casino Resort Pavilion, in Kinder, Louisiana, a crowd
estimated at 3000 saw Sumya (143¼ lbs) defeat
(136¼ lbs) of Puerto Rico by a ten-round unanimous (100-90,97-93,99-91)
decision, defending her IBA Welterweight world title.
Cut early but victorious over
Belinda Laracuente in January 2005
© Copyrighted photo by Valerie Mahfood
According to a
report from pro boxer Valerie Mahfood, "Within the first ten
seconds of round one, the two women clashed heads above their right
eyebrows. Anani, however, suffered a cut as a result of it. At no time
did the cut threaten the stoppage of the fight, but it did require
minor medical attention afterwards. Rounds one through six all played
the same tune. Anani attacked and Laracuente moved. The majority of the
time, Anani remained the aggressor. She consistently backed Laracuente
into the ropes and then unleashed a flurry of both body and head shots.
Laracuente was able to retaliate at times, yet, it was simply wasn’t
enough. When Laracuente threw consecutive punches, Anani traded with
her. When Laracuente threw single shots, Anani absorbed the punches and
continued undaunted. To me, it seemed as if Laracuente simply couldn’t
find her rhythm. Or perhaps, Anani’s aggression refused to allow it.
The most controversially moment of the fight occurred in round seven.
From my perspective, it appeared to be a clean left hook to the body
that dropped Laracuente. The referee, however, immediately called a
time-out and sent Anani to a neutral corner. Laracuente held her glove
over her head and complained of a head-butt. A few moments passed
before the referee ruled the contact an accidental head butt. Half the
crowd hissed, half the crowd cheered. When the fight resumed, it
continued much on the same path as before." Anani
improved to 25-1-1 (9 KO) with this win while Laracuente fell to 21-6-2
March 25, 2006 at the Grand Victoria Casino
in Rising Sun, Indiana, Terri Blair
of Louisville, Kentucky stunned the women's boxing world by TKO'ing
Sumya at 1:37 in the final round of a ten-rounder for the IBA
Welterweight title. Ahead on two judges' scorecards by one
point going into the tenth, Anani was knocked down and then the fight
was called. Anani fell to 25-2-1 (10 KO's) with this loss while Terri
Blair improved to 7-10-2 (4 KO's) with the win.
On May 27, 2006 at the
Louisville Gardens in Louisville, Kentucky,
(141 lbs) of Louisville again stopped Sumya (143 lbs), this time by a TKO at 1:59 in the
ninth round. Anani led in the early going and Blair took some
punishment but Blair rallied in the ninth, knocking an apparently
tiring Anani down three times
to keep her IBA Welterweight title.
Terri improved to 8-10-2 (5
KO's) with her second straight stoppage of Anani, who fell to
25-3-1 (10 KO's).
Terri's manager Abdul Jarvis
said about the fight: "(Anani) came out with a different game
plan. She boxed a whole lot better this time. But I knew that she
couldn't keep up that pace. I told you before that we don't degrade
over a period of time…; I knew (Anani) was getting hurt. She would
freeze every time she got hit."
Anani complimented Blair after the loss,
the Louisville Courier-Journal: "She
caught me. It happens. It's boxing. Who was it that made the statement
that it takes one punch to change a fight?" and
a sweetheart. As an athlete you always try to do your best. Of course,
you're kind of upset about it. But to lose to a sweetheart like her …
she represents her sport well."
with her collection of title belts
© Copyrighted photo courtesy of Sumya Anani
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huge photos of Sumya Anani and many other women in the sport, go to the
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Sumya Anani links
last updated:Friday November 06, 2015