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Sue Fox Named  in the "Top Ten" Most -Significant Female Boxers of All Time - Ring Magazine - Feb. 2012

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Sandra Yard with IFBA belt
Photo courtesy Sandy Yard

 
   

5'8" junior lightweight Sandra (Sandy) "The Shark" Yard was born in Absecon, New Jersey on September 8, 1960.  She got into boxing at age 36 after a long association with other women's sports.

As a high school student in Pleasantville, New Jersey, she played softball and basketball as well as running cross-country to get in shape for basketball. She went on to Trenton State College in Trenton, New Jersey, where she was a varsity athlete in basketball and lacrosse.

In addition the other sports Sandy participated in, she spent two years training in two different types of karate, which she enjoyed but the area where she was training did not offer much competition for women and being a mother of young children it was hard for her to travel.   However, she remained in good shape and trained hard. After moving to Palm Desert, California, she continued running and lifting weights regularly, and devoted time to coaching youth sports.

Her husband's enthusiasm for boxing helped to get her interested in the sport and she decided try it as a professional boxer after seeing the publicity surrounding Christy Martin, training with Lee Espinoza at the Coachella Boxing Club.

She made her debut at 133 lbs on September 3, 1997 at Arizona Charlie's in Las Vegas, winning a four-round split (40-36,59-37,37-39) split decision over Odelia Rodriguez (132 lbs) of  Chihuahua, Mexico, who fell to 0-3 with the loss.

She then traveled to Philadelphia where she boxed to a four-round draw with Cynthia Prouder on Novermber 14, 1997.

On February 6, 1998 at Arizona Charlie's in Las Vegas, Sandra (124 lbs) advanced her ring record to 2-0-1 by stopping Brenda Burnside (119½ lbs) of Albuquerque, New Mexico, at 0:46 of the fourth round. (This loss left Burnside at 0-4, a record she later markedly improved!)

On February 18, 1998 at the trum 29 Casino in Coachella, California Sandra (130 lbs) KO'd debut fighter Sandra Mapone (130 lbs) of La Puente, Califonria in the first round of a scheduled four-rounder.

At Maryland's Pikesville, Armory on March 10, 1998, kickboxing veteran Kathy Long (126 lbs) from Pasadena, California won her pro boxing debut with a 4-round unanimous (40-36, 39-37, 39-37) decision over Sandra (122¼ lbs) in a bout seen on Cable USA's Tuesday Night Fights. This fight wasn't as one-sided as the scores suggest. Long looked rusty and had problems with Yard's reach advantage. Yard and some of the fans were surprised by a decision that dropped her record to 3-1-1.


Kathy Long and Sandy Yard at weigh-in, June 1998
Copyrighted photo taken by Mary Ann Owen

On June 26, 1998 at Bally's Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada Sandra and Kathy Long fought a rematch in which the veteran Long (126 lbs) managed only a four-round split decision over Sandra (127 lbs). This may have given the Sandra the unexpected distinction of being Kathy Long's last professional opponent, as "The Punisher" apparently decided to retire from competition after this.

On October 3, 1998 at the Hilton in Las Vegas, Sandra weighed in at 126½ lbs and battled unbeaten Deborah Nichols (127 lbs) of Dalton, Georgia to a four-round draw to take her own record to 3-2-2. The hard-hitting Nichols, a former Tough Woman contestant, moved her own record to 6-0-2 with 3 KO's in this hard-fought bout.

On February 4, 1999 at the Coeur d'Alene Tribal Bingo/Casino in Worley, Idaho, she weighed in at 129 lbs and defeated Layla McCarter (123 lbs) of Spokane, Washington by four-round unanimous (40-36) decision. McCarter fell to 1-1 with the loss.

On March 6, 1999 at Fantasy Springs Casino in Indio, California, Sandra (124 lbs)  won a six-round unanimous (60-53 x 3) decision over Cynthia Prouder (127 lb) of Los Angeles, who fell to 4-4-1. Yard had little trouble with Prouder after knocking her down in the first round.

On April 17, 1999 at the Fantasy Spings Casino in Indio, California, she weighed in at 129 lbs and outhustled journeywoman Shakurah Witherspoon (128 lbs) of Philadelphia for a four-round unanimous decision. Witherspoon fell to 3-11-1 with this loss.

On June 12, 1999 at the Fantasy Springs Casino in Indio, Califonia, Sandra (127 lbs) won a four-round unanimous (40-36) decision over Shelley Lay (130 lbs) of Salt Lake City, Utah, who fell to 1-2. According to our correspondent, "Sandra was at her best at long range, controlling with her jab and straight right. Lay did manage some left hook counters through the first three but took a pounding during the last thirty seconds of round four. Sandra's hands were visibly swollen at the bout's conclusion."

On November 23, 1999 at the Allstate Arena in Rosemont, Illinois, Sandra won the vacant IFBA Featherweight title with a ten-round unanimous (98-92, 97-94, 96-93) decision over Chicago's 5'5" Chris Kreuz. Kreuz had no answer for Yard's reach and was frequently beaten to the punch in the early going. Yard used her jabs to Freuz's head early on and a body attack in the last three rounds to control Kreuz, who looked perplexed for much of the fight as she tried to solve Yard's style. Kreuz rallied in the sixth and seventh as Yard appeared to take a breather, but Yard came back with a strong finish and overwhelmed the veteran with fast-paced combinations in the eighth, ninth and tenth. The evening started shakily for Yard as she twisted her ankle on some broken lumber just below the canvas (the start of the fight was delayed while the ring was repaired). Then she went to the canvas after her feet tangled in Kreuz's in the opening round. This was was ruled a knockdown, but appeared to fire Yard up and make her work harder. Kreuz's pro record fell to 13-3-2 with the loss.

Sandy was named WBAN's Fighter of the Month in December 1999.

On March 11, 200o at the Fantasy Springs Casino, Sandra (124 lbs) KO'd Marsha Budde (5'4", 123 lbs) of Denver, Colorado in the fifth round of a scheduled six-rounder, dropping Budde's record to 2-3.

On April 26, 2000 at the Treasure Chest Casino in Kenner, Louisiana, Sandra retained the IFBA Featherweight title with an eighth-round KO of challenger Beverly Szymanski of Marine City, Michigan. Yard tried to use her height and reach advantages to keep this fight at a distance, while Szymanski worked to get inside and press the action at shorter range. Both had some success in the early rounds but Yard began to unload in the eighth and drove Szymanski to the ropes and into a corner. Szymanski began to tie Yard up but Yard's left was free and she nailed Szymanski with a left hook just as the referee came in to separate them after yelling "break". Szymanski was counted out but her trainer Dale Grable filed a protest with the Associated Boxing Commissioners over what they believed was a late hit resulting in the KO.  The protest was denied.  WBAN correspondent Ryan Wissow described the end of the fight as "Yard unleashed a barrage of power punches that shook Szymanski, as Szymanski's back was on the ropes, and Yard got her in a corner to throw more punches.  Szymanski tried to clinch Yard, and a fraction of a second after the ref yelled break [he was just about to physically separate the fighters] Yard used her unclenched arm, her left, to drill Szymanski with a left hook. Szymanski was counted out.  The commentators were wondering if Yard was in the wrong for hitting Szymanski after the ref yelled break, but the ref hadn't yet actually stepped between the two fighters when the punch landed." Szymanski slipped to 9-6 with the loss.

On July 22, 2000 at the Sky Ute Casino and Lodge in Ignacio, Colorado, Sandra Yard defended the IFBA Featherweight title with a ten-round unanimous decision over Rolanda Andrews of Atlanta. Andrews made it a close fight in the early going and decked Yard with a hard right in the second, but Yard fought her way back in the later rounds. Yard is now 11-2-2; Andrews fell to 4-5.

On August 26, 2000 at Harrah's Club CalNeva in Reno, Nevada, JoJo Wyman (127 lbs) of Woodland Hills, California won a six-round unanimous decision over Yard (129 lbs) after knocking her down in the second and fourth rounds. Wyman improved to 7-2, while Yard slipped to 11-3-2 with the loss.

On October 7, 2000 at Sky Ute Casino in Ignacio, Colorado, 21-year-old Layla McCarter of Spokane, Washington defeated Yard by a clear (100-90,99-91,97-93) unanimous decision for the IFBA Featherweight title. Yard was the aggressor initially, but McCarter took control by countering Yard's left leads and landing big right hands.  McCarter sent Yard reeling into the ropes in the fourth round and dominated the later part of the fight, almost closing Yard's right eye and knocking her down with a minute left in the tenth. McCarter is now 7-4-1, Yard fell to 11-4-2 with her second straight loss and announced her retirement from pro boxing after the fight. (Check here for more details about the fight). "I gave it my best shot," said Yard, "I was ready, but shes half my age."

Women's Boxing Page correspondent Rod Mahaffey wrote "In the main event, McCarter took early control by countering Yard's left leads with pinpoint accuracy, landing big right hands repeatedly. Yard, perhaps showing signs of age, was unable to cope with McCarter's foot speed and quick combinations. Despite applying constant pressure throughout, Yard was frequently beaten to the punch and McCarter exhibited surprising skills as she darted in and out, flashing multiple combinations then retreating out of harms way, avoiding Yard's responses ... not enough can be said of the courageous performance of Yard, a gallant battler in defeat who never stopped trying to the final bell."

On April 13, 2002 Sandra came out of the retirement she had announced in November 2000 to take on Layla McCarter again at the Sky Ute Casino in Ignacio, Colorado. This time Sandra won the IFBA Junior Lightweight title with a clear (97-94,97-94,97-93) decision over Layla, who was #2 ranked featherweight at the time. McCarter fell to 9-7-3 (2 KO) with the loss. Women's Boxing Page correspondent Craig Ogawa wrote "No knockdowns in the fight, but Sandy connected with some very hard rights to Layla's head in the second or third round. Yard won most of the rounds from the second on until late in the fight when McCarter began to stage a late comeback."

On November 9, 2002, again at Sky Ute Casino in Ignacio, Colorado, Russian expatriate Olga Vlasova from Chicago, Illinois (slimmed down to 128¼ lbs from her previous junior welterweight class) won the IFBA Junior Lightweight title with a ten-round split (98-92,96-95,93-97) decision over Sandra (127¾ lbs). The Siberian-born Vlasova soon set the pace, aggressively pursuing Yard, whose strategy was to try to keep her distance and counterpunch. Vlasova worked effectively when she caught up to Yard and could go to work at close quarters. Yard needed to stick and move as Vlasova showed she had the power to do some damage whenever she got close. Early in the fight, Yard's ring savvy and movement kept the fight on close to even terms with both landing solidly at times and trading good combinations. Vlasova began to take control in the seventh and as Yard appeared to be tiring. But with her title clearly in danger, Yard made a big effort in the final round and was able to turn the tables and keep Vlasova on defense. The bout made for an exciting co-main event on the card and had the crowd cheering a fine effort by both boxers. Vlasova is now 7-0-1 (3 KO) while Yard fell to 12-5-2 (3 KO). [Fight Report and Photos]


Chevelle Hallback, Layla McCarter, Sandy Yard and Laura Serrano
Copyrighted photo taken by Sue TL Fox

Sandy Yard's trainer at the Coachella Boxing Club was Lee Espinoza, who said of her "When she first came here I told her she didnt have a big punch, but she has a lot of guts.  She trained and learned and is a good boxer. She has the heart of a Lion."

Sandra has retired from pro boxing competition. She has three children and has coached their teams in soccer and baseball while keeping herself in tip top shape with running, lifting weights and her boxing training.  She has a B.S. in Recreation Administration from Trenton State College.

Other Sandy Yard links

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Page last updated: Friday, 09 August 2013

 
     
     
     
     
 

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