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Brenda Burnside is Back!

By Carol Ann Weber

It is so typical of Brenda Burnside to just show up somewhere and make things happen. And she's done it again!. The "Tigress" (or "Tiger", whatever she decides to be called at the moment) showed up in Vegas a few weeks ago and "Bam!" things started to happen. She found a place to stay, nabbed a highly respected trainer, jumped back into her exhaustive training schedule, got featured as the cover story for a local publication ("The Voice"), started writing her book, began the early stages of planning a documentary on her life, and is planning her next fight for sometime in September. 

The 5'3" bantamweight retired after a UD loss in a title match against WIBF Junior Bantamweight champ Daisy Lang, which left her career stats at 7-11-2 (3 KO's), which may be one of the motivating factors in her return. Brenda had a tiger strip tattooed on her body for every match she felt she won, even though the decision was otherwise, which brought her only a small measure of consolation. 

Now, the Tigress is back, stalking the jungles of boxing, ready to leap on her next unsuspecting foe. Here, exclusively for WBAN readers, Brenda speaks candidly about her return to the sport that she just can't seem to get out of her blood.

CAW: You're now back in Vegas after taking off to Costa Rica for more than a year. And, you're back training at the gym. Are you coming out of retirement? 

BB: Yes, I am training in Las Vegas with the great Tony Mora, who also just returned from a seven year retirement from boxing.

CAW: Why did you decide to come back?

BB: Boxing gets "in your blood" as they say. It is very hard to stop doing it as long as you are able bodied. 

CAW: Unfinished business?

BB: Absolutely, there are a few scores I would love to settle, as well as a few back paychecks to collect.

CAW: Yes, I understand that you feel you won several fights for which you didn't get the decision. In fact, you had a tiger stripe tattooed on your body for each fight you feel you won. Which opponents were they, and do you want rematches with any of them?

BB: The four stripes on my shoulders represent Mary Ortega in my fight with her in Kansas City, MO; Bridgett Riley - Madison Square Garden, NYC; Kathy Williams- Sturgis, SD; and Para Draine- Worley, ID. And yes, I would like rematches with each of these opponents. However, I am not sure if any of them are still fighting anymore. I would especially like a rematch with Kathy Williams because the WIBF still ranks her above me as the number one contender.

CAW: I recall you telling me about that fight, which was in front of a whole convention of bikers. And when they heard the decision, started throwing bottles and trash into the ring. The promoter begged you to take the mike and quiet them down before there was a riot. Which of course, you graciously did, in spite of believing, as they did, that you won. 

BB: (Laughs.) There are many bikers that would have a lot to say about our last fight and the rankings.

CAW: You certainly have developed your own very unique persona as "The Tigress" and with your tiger stripe tattoos. Do you think more women boxers need to have a little more style and flair? 

BB: I have mixed feeling about that. I did it for several reasons and my tattoos tell my story. It was a bit drastic, but I'm happy with the way it is turning out. It started as a replacement for "wins" I should have received as a boxer fighting as the underdog, but didn't win for whatever political reasons. I didn't want to ever forget these bouts in which I knew I won, the audience knew I won ,and my opponent knew I won, but I was handed losses at the hands of "less then fair" officials. One of my first coaches called me a "TIGER" in the ring because in the ring I give 100% and I am a dangerous opponent. It just grew from there.

CAW: Since you've been away from boxing, what has changed about women's boxing and what has remained the same? 

BB: It is still a very fickle sport. We will see what happens. Now that Laila Ali had her bout with Frazier things may have opened up a little. They put on a good show for beginners, and people got to see the heart and stamina involved in fighting more than 4 rounds.

CAW: What's the most important reason for you to box again? 

BB: I'm ready for my belt, I earned it before now I will show them all again.

CAW: What do you think women's boxing needs the most right now? 

BB: Better promotions and media coverage would be a good start. People WANT to see it, so I don't understand why the money has never been there except for just a select few. It is very exciting to watch. That is when the fight is against two equally matched opponents. 

CAW: Did you think Ali/Frazier was a step forward or back for women's boxing?

BB: It was a great show of heart, stamina and courage. Both of the women took hard shots that would have dropped most, but neither went down. I think it was a step forward for sure, standing ovation after every round! NO long, slow, boring periods of time during that fight.

CAW: Who do you think could help women's boxing the most? 

BB: There are many that have been pushing it forward. Maybe it started with a lot of fathers that wanted their daughters to be able to protect themselves, thanks all you brave Dads out there. But really there are many people working behind the scenes that are making a huge difference. Sandy Pino is one. She is working hard behind the amateur scene to help the girls get to the Olympics. Irene Garcia of "A Woman's Place Boxing Gym" in Albuquerque New Mexico has been working hard with many amateur girls as well as taking Trina Ortegon to several world titles. I know Canada and Europe are now training future world champions in all weight groups.

CAW: Any fights in the near future? 

BB: As soon as I feel I am ready it could be anyone, anytime, anywhere.

CAW: What contribution do you hope to make before you retire from boxing for the second time? 

BB: I would really like to help see the females make it to the Olympics. Once they do that it will then be accepted as a "real" sport. I have females in Central America ready to make a go of it as soon as it's accepted into the Olympics. 

CAW: What are your plans after boxing? 

BB: I will be raising funds and awareness to fill the needs of children all over the world to feel safe in there own countries. I want to travel around the world and start physical fitness and sports programs for children, so they will grow up to be healthier adults.

CAW: Do you have a message for your fans? 

BB: I love getting fan mail so that I can pass on the experience of what it is like to love boxing. So please, write with any questions you may have and I will do my best to help inspire the future champions of tomorrow. 




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