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  Exclusive One on One Interview with Kathy Rivers
Conducted by Sue TL Fox
October 17, 2000
TL Fox:  How long have you been in boxing?

Kathy:  My first boxing bout was in March of 98. I have no amateur experience, but I was training for about a year before my first fight. 

TL Fox:  What made you decide to box?

Kathy:  I started working out with Bonnie Canino and was very impressed with her and she motivated me to fight.

TL Fox:  What do you want to achieve in women's boxing?

Kathy:  TO BE WORLD CHAMPION (Light heavy/super middle/middleweight)

TL Fox:  If you had any advise to tell new fighters, what would you say to them?

Kathy:  Do it for yourself and believe in yourself. You are alone in that ring, so make sure you are doing it for you and BELIEVE IN YOURSELF!!! 

TL Fox:  Since you have been in the sport so many years, what would you have done differently?

Kathy:  I would have been more serious in the beginning of my career. I really have not gotten in top shape for any of my fights, I took my "natural" ability to fight as being enough, I never attempted to really reach my athletic potential. (until now!!!) 

TL Fox:  Who is on your agenda for watching to step in the ring with? 

Kathy:  I really don't have an agenda. 

TL Fox:  Would you like to avenge your loss with Valerie Mahfood?

Kathy:  Absolutely. I was no where near 100% in that fight. I had a shoulder injury which hurt my training, and like I said before, I never have gotten "in shape" for my fights.  Val knows I wasn't ready and I really doubt she will fight me again. 

TL Fox:  How long do you think you will stay in boxing?

Kathy:  Until I don't feel like boxing anymore. I don't put all my eggs in one basket, so when my career is over, I will already be into something else.

TL Fox:  Of all of the women boxers you have stepped in the ring with, who was your toughest opponent?

Kathy:  My toughest opponent is always myself. (I think all the boxers understand that) 

TL Fox:  Are you boxing full time or do you work a regular job and box?

Kathy:   I work and box.

TL Fox:  What changes have taken place for you in the last few months. I know you were training out of Florida and you have now relocated, what happened?

Kathy:  I was fortunate enough to sign a contract with Jimmy Burchfield & CES Entertainment which has about 10 fights a year, and the most important thing for a boxer is to stay busy, so, I felt it would be better for me to train in the same state, instead of flying out every 7 weeks. 

TL Fox:  You have a fight coming up, can you tell me about it?

Kathy:  I will be fighting on November 17th at the Rhodes on the Pawtucket. Don't have an opponent yet. I'll let you know. 

TL Fox:  Is there anything you would like to say to boxing fans that follow your career?

Kathy:  Thank you for supporting & believing in me. I know I haven't come close to being the fighter I'm supposed to be, but I have gotten everything in my life together and I am ready to reach my destiny, so watch out because I'm coming up. 

Kathy Rivers is on FANMAIL!


A Real Knock Out

Pro boxer Kathy Rivers proves that 
being rough and tough is beautiful too-  
by Carol Ann Weber

You just don’t expect to see a six-foot blonde, professional sportswear/bikini model with sapphire eyes slugging it out in the boxing ring. But there’s Kathy Rivers, pivoting on her well-turned ankle while executing a quick right cross - and the crowd goes wild. Then, just one minute 32 seconds into the first round, her opponent crashes to the canvas and the referee begins a slow 10 count, while Kathy walks disgustedly to the neutral corner muttering under her breath, "Pathetic, just pathetic." You see, Kathy not only came out this balmy Florida evening to win, but to give the 2,000-plus crowd at the Miccosukee Indian Gaming casino what they paid for - a really good fight. Rest assured this was no "foxy boxing" match either, but a legit four-rounder on the undercard of the televised Michael Nunn fight. After all, Kathy is the number-one ranked light heavyweight (her fighting weight is 175 pounds) by all three sanctioning bodies, and has vowed to become the first female light heavyweight champion of the world.

As women’s boxing continues to gain in popularity, it seems that talented athletes are coming out of the woodwork, bringing back to the sport the come-out-swinging, toe-to-toe kind of action that seems to be missing in many of today’s men’s matches. Ever since Christy Martin broke ground in the first televised women’s bout on a major undercard (the 1996 Tyson/Bruno fight), at least one women’s match is included with every major fight, and all-women’s cards have sprung up across the country. According to Mike Scionti, executive director of the Florida Athletic Commission, women give the sport renewed credibility because "the don’t hug and hold. They are a lot more honorable and a lot less mouthy." And it doesn’t hurt when they’re also drop dead gorgeous.

 "I enjoy modeling and boxing," says Kathy with an indiscernible accent (kind of Southern drawl meets Midwestern twang), "and I think the two compliment each other, at least in me." What? Boxing and modeling compliment each other? What about your face? Obviously having answered that question one too many times, she fires back, "Look, I’m 5 and 0 and don’t have a scratch on me…if I get into the ring and am worried about getting hurt, I shouldn’t be there. The person with the stronger mind will always win."

In boxing, as in nature, the strongest will prevail. When this 31-year-old champ climbs through the ropes, the sweet laughing-all-the-time, porcelain-white-smile, all-American-girl next-door turns into her opponent’s worst nightmare, for she will not denied. Kathy doesn’t run hundreds of miles in the soggy Florida heat, lift thousands of pounds of weight, spar several times a week, and beat the heavy bag to a pulp to lose a fight. And her trainer/boyfriend Bert Rodriguez sure she stays tough.

"…[A]bout a week before [my first] fight, [Bert] went really hard with me sparring," she recalls. "The last week is very mentally stressful. You have totally killed your body. You need to rejuvenate. But he had intensified the sparring to almost every day.

"I got mad and yelled at him for something. I started to cry in the ring - it’s just so draining, and because of our relationship, we were both taking it more personal. He said, "Fine. You’re not going to fight.’ I said, ‘F---- you! I’m fine!’ So then he says, "you’re ready.’ It was a test. He didn’t want me to crack under pressure up there."

Bert also pulls no punches when they spar, and neither does Bonnie Canino, his business partner in their US 1 Fitness Gym chain. Bonnie also happens to be Kathy’s first trainer and the person who arranged her first fight. "If I’m not totally focused or get distracted during the sparring session, he’ll pop. me. But then, sometimes I get him really good, too," says Kathy with a child-like grin. Bonnie, by the way, was Bert’s first female protégé, and got him hooked on training women boxers. Bert (who holds black belts in six different martial arts disciplines) says before Bonnie, women weren’t allowed to train in his gym. "But I saw in her what I always looked for in the guys. . . and I figured, ‘why not work with her. If it’s the right stuff, it doesn’t matter whether it’s in a man’s or a woman’s body. " (Bonnie went on to win both the WIBF and the IFBA world featherweight titles and is considered one of the best female boxers in the world.)

Kathy’s also got the right stuff claims Bert. She trains like tehours a day. So you say you want to be a boxer, young woman? Well, try the pros’ training schedule. Pump iron on Monday, Wednesday and Friday; run five miles on Monday (along with the weights); do bag work, sparring and wind sprints on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday; and on Wednesday, along with the weights, run seven miles to the beach and back, and be sure to include the steps down to the beach.

Currently, Kathy’s emphasizing upper-body training with the weights, "but I’m going to start legs again because the power of your punches comes from your legs."

There’s been an ongoing debate between the "old school" trainers and the "new age" guys about the pros and cons of weight training for boxers. The "old school" holds that weights slow a boxer down and keep him muscle bound, while the "new age" proponents believe weight training, when properly combined with road work and bag work, gives a boxer the competitive edge. "I love the weights," says Kathy. "When I first started training with Bonnie and Bert, I stopped weight training. But I felt weak. I didn’t have the strength. It makes sense to train specifically for the sport you are doing. For example, if my back muscles are the ones I’m using, I want to make them stronger.

On April 21, 2000, Rivers TKO'd Taquella Hoskin of Ashtabula, Ohio at 0:51 in the first round. The crowd was very upset at the fight being stopped and booed as they announced that Hoskin's did not want to continue. Rivers record is now 9-2. 


Kathy began her modeling career four years ago, when she first met Bert. He encouraged her to contact modeling agencies, and the prestigious Ford agency offered her a contract for the "plus size" category. "At the time I was a size 14, but I had also started training with Bert. I went down to a size 9. The Ford agents said they could make me a star if I went back up to a size 14. But I didn’t want to put on the weight I worked so hard to get off. Besides, I’m much more of a sports oriented person." So Kathy posed for a couple of swimwear ads )looking great in a bikini), modeled for a suntan product, did a couple of commercials, one for a fitness supplement, Vanadyl Sulfate, and the other for a cruise line called Vegas Express (she got the free trip, too!) as well as a commercial for a gym and a local restaurant.

"I knew I didn’t have the physique for runway modeling. I would have to get down to 125 pounds, or go up to more than 180 pounds to be a plus size. I’m much happier being a boxer, and being me."

It seems that being true to herself has always worked for Kathy Rivers. When she was just a kid and wanted to play baseball on the local all-boys Woonsocket, RI, Little League team, she became the team’s first girl member. And then in her 20s, when she wanted to work on cars at the Fort Lauderdale auto body shop, Kathy endured three weeks of the silent treatment before her fellow grease monkeys finally accepted her. Now, she’s turning all of her unique qualities into an advantage, as she paves the way for a new and different kind of woman - big, beautiful and tough. Bert sums it up this way. "In men’s fighting, it’s always the heavyweights who make an impression, and Kathy’s a big girl. She definitely makes an impression."  

WBAN wants to give a special thanks to Oxygen Magazine for permission to run this article.  Photographs are by Sandy Goldberg.  TL Fox 



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