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by Tom Gerbasi - of HouseofBoxing.com  
  "Any punch of mine lights a fresh stick of dynamite in Veronica, until she seems to be composed of many fuses burning down: some slow, others fast... Her right hand finds a gap in my guard - one of those hammers I've admired from the ropes, wondered whether they're as hard as they look - and it's horrible, like being woken up at dawn by a fire truck" - Author Kate Sekules on sparring with Veronica Simmons. From the book, "The Boxer's Heart"

Mention the name Veronica Simmons to a boxing fan on the west coast, and you will receive a myriad of puzzled looks; but mention her to a New York boxing fan, and the tales will fill your ears fast and furiously.

"I remember when she fought four girls in one night and knocked them out in 30 seconds each."

"Remember when she put a hole through the heavy bag at Gleason's?"  "I saw the time she knocked that girl into the air. She hasn't come down yet."

All myths of course, but Veronica Simmons is no urban legend. If you are one of the lucky few to have seen her fight, you have not forgotten her. To those who follow women's boxing, she may be the Sugar Ray Robinson of the sport. But with no promoter, no manger, and no one willing to fight her, she may end up as the sport's Charlie Burley.

For the uninformed, here are the numbers on 'Vicious' Veronica: Four New York Golden Gloves titles (in three weight classes), three national championships, a Feenix Cup title, and a 15-0, 11 KO's amateur slate. She turned pro in May of 2000 and scored a 40 second knockout of Evelyn Holly.

She hasn't fought since.

"There are a lot of people that know who I am, that have seen me fight in the nationals, or have heard of me, but I don't get good exposure," Veronica told the House from her home in Brooklyn. "I haven't had any televised fights. I have been trying to get on these Kushner cards here in New York, and people are just not giving me that big break that I need."

Cedric Kushner Promotions, which has made sure to have a novelty-type female bout on their Heavyweight Explosion cards, doesn't want to break the status quo either. "I ran into his matchmaker at the boxing commission, and he was like 'oh, you're Veronica,'" said Simmons, who fights at middleweight to super middleweight. "'Too bad you're not a heavyweight, cause we could put you on a show. We only put on heavyweights.' That's what he said to me. But I really don't know what everybody else's excuse is. I don't have a manager. I had a lot of people who were trying to help me get fights, and everybody comes back with the same thing, 'I tried, but nobody wants to fight you.'

For a person like me, a manager or promoter would have to put money behind me to get girls to fight me. Girls are not trying to fight me for $800 or $1000."

So take away the amateur accomplishments. What's so scary about the soft spoken Brooklynite, who makes her living outside the ring as a federal corrections officer, personal trainer, and soon to be actress (she just scored her first role on television's Third Watch)? "I think it's because I' m too good," said Simmons. "Because if I wasn't good I would have been fighting by now. I would have been getting opponents, people would have been saying 'yeah, I'll fight her'. Laila Ali doesn't want to fight, the Frazier daughter doesn't want to fight. 

They were trying to get the Johansson daughter for me, for her second fight, and they said no. Kathy Rivers doesn't want to fight me. She told me no three times already. And nobody is saying 'yes I'll fight Veronica' at this point."

And while there is a huge difference between amateur and professional boxing, in women's boxing the gap is not as wide (and some might say many pro bouts are glorified Golden Gloves matches). As an amateur, Simmons romped over (among others) Trina Ortegon and Suzette Taylor, two women who are considered among the best in their weight class. Doesn't Veronica think that she should be up there as well? "Of course, all the time. But I don't let it really get to me too much, because if I do, I'll feel like giving up.  When I look at them winning, getting title shots, of course I say that should be me."

Has she seen any improvement from her old foes? "I've seen Trina and Suzette fight, they fight pretty much the same. They haven't changed the way they fight. Trina still comes straightforward, Suzette still just stands there.  They don't do anything different. And I'm better now as a professional. A lot of things that I'm doing now, I didn't do as an amateur."

At the age of 31, boxing should hope that it doesn't lose Simmons to another sport: basketball. An All-City and All-State selection in high school, and a member of St. John's basketball squad, the 5-9 Simmons also has aspirations of trying out for the WNBA this year. Is she a better boxer or ballplayer?  "I'm very, very good at both," she laughs.

Fighting under the guidance of Alexander Newbole in NYC's Kingsway Gym, Simmons does know that if she does leave boxing, she would be leaving some unfinished business.

"There's no jealousy there," she says in reference to "The Daughters", not some Goth rock group, but the fighting female offspring of Messrs Ali, Frazier, Foreman, and Johansson, all of whom fight in Veronica's weight class. "It's obvious to everyone that they can't fight, and the reason that they're getting all the press is because of their fathers."

But everyone wants a piece of Laila Ali, the most skilled of "The Daughters" , even though that isn't saying much considering the company. Simmons is no different, and her analysis of Laila's style leads one to believe that Ms. Ali would be in for an early night with 'Vicious' Veronica. "Laila has a little bit of skill and does have room for improvement," said Simmons. "She' s a little better than the rest of them. She's not as wild as they are. 

She's trying to put her punches together, but she has a very long way to go. She fights straightforward, she throws a double jab, a right, and a 1-2, and that's it, that's the end of her combinations. That's the end of what she does right now. And people are basically standing right there in front of her. Nobody is really hitting her back real hard. 

So she has a long way to go. If I had a father that was famous, I would probably do the same thing.  But I wouldn't jump out there the way they're coming out there with no skills at all. I would have worked on my skills first."

But skills can erode if they're not used. Doesn't Veronica want to step up the pace and call Laila out? "That's not going to do me any good to call her out, that's going to make her more scared," said Simmons. "I'm not trying to come after her because I know it's not going to happen right now."

Will it ever? "Maybe. It depends on how much better she gets or on how much better they think she's getting before they even think about putting her up against me. I don't hate what she's doing. Everyone finds a way to get paid, a way to make money. So this is their way. If I could say something to her, I would let her know that when all the games are over, I'm gonna be there waiting. Eventually, she's going to have to meet me. When they finish putting together their pay-per-views, putting in these dummy opponents against them (the daughters), they're going to have to step up their competition, and that's when she's going to have to see me."

Look out Laila.

Update on Simmons: Simmons is now 3-0-0 (2KO) and  is set to fight in November 2004.



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