Erin Toughill: Damsel of Destruction
Interview by "Big Dog" Benny Henderson Jr. (January 17, 2005)
Tough talking, sexy walking damsel of destruction! Hell yeah, that pretty much defines this lady fighter and what she can do. You've heard the old saying if looks could kill? With this cat you can't count out the left hand either, so don't let the sweet looks fool you. This twenty-seven year old Chicago native knows how to throw down and annihilate her opponents with her no holds barred style of fighting. Whether in the boxing ring or competing in mixed martial arts Erin Toughill is a triple threat to any that cross her path: she can punch you, kick you or just plain pound your butt to the ground. It's your choice, she doesn't care either way, she just comes to win.
Photo © ErinToughill.com
Since 1999 the Brazilian jujitsu discipline has catapulted Toughill to the top of the fighting world. She has compiled a 6-2-1 in the MMA defeating Irina Rodina (split decision) at the ReMix-World Cup 2000, Megumi Yabushita (TKO armbar) at the ReMix-Golden Gate 2001and then recently in the SG-2004 World ReMix Toughill went on to defeat two lady fighters and was well on her way to the main prize when she was disqualified for throwing elbows in retaliation to arch nemesis Yabushita's continuous fouling in the final bout of the night. Toughill is also a solid boxer and since 2000 she has pounded out a 6-1-1 record as a lady boxer. Erin debuted on July 20th 2004 and lost a four round decision, but she has since gone on the winning path defeating Cassandra Geigger and most recently earning a ten round unanimous decision over Yvonne Reis, earning the GBU Intercontinental title in the process. Erin dedicated the win to the memory of her late sister, who was involved in a fatal car accident just a month prior to the bout. This super middleweight wants Laila Ali in the ring and with the trash talking that has been between the two, this rivalry should go down. No matter what the future holds for this lady of the ring one thing is definitely for sure, Erin Toughill is a force to be reckoned with. Erin took the time to chat with the Doghouse and gave her thoughts on her experiences in the boxing ring and the MMA arena.
Benny Henderson Jr.: Hey how are you Erin?
Erin Toughill: Great. Thank you. By the way - I LOVE the title of the piece [laughs].
BH: First off, what would prompt a beautiful young lady as yourself to want to compete in such grueling in your face sport when there seems like there is so much out there for you to do?
ET: I think because I have found out that I am good at what I do - that's the key. I think I have a lot to offer both sports while proving that a woman can still look like a woman AND kick a little butt. I have always been into sports growing up. This is such a challenge - but at the same time it is so fun and rewarding. I truly love it. I am sure if I was losing a lot, not performing well, etc. I might have found a new line of work. But fortunately, it has worked out for me! I obviously have plans after this (I am working on a degree in kinesiology) but for now, I love it.
BH: Women's boxing seems to have bit of a following, but what about the whole women in the MMA scene, do you think that will ever catch on?
ET: Ummm, well, even women's boxing is not taken so seriously. You have the 'names' and people get to see them. But there is some real talent out there right now and it's a shame people don't get to see them perform. As for MMA - people don't even fully understand the men's fighting yet - not like boxing, at least. I don't for see them really understanding the females anytime soon. But of course I'd love if they did.
BH: When did you start competing as a MMA fighter and a boxer?
ET: I had my first pro fight (MMA fight) in Sept of '99. So... going on five and a half years. I had my first boxing fight June of 2000.
BH: OK, what do your parents think about their little girl throwing down in the ring?
ET: They just don't want me to get hurt. That's their biggest concern. I think my dad thought I would end up being a soccer star... sorry dad!
BH: On October 22nd 2004 you defeated Yvonne Reis for the GBU Intercontinental Super middleweight title, which was your first title. But not only were you fighting for your first belt you were fighting for your baby sister Megan who passed away a month earlier in a car accident. How emotional was it for you to gain the victory and bring home the belt in memory of your little sister?
ET: Yeah, well, Megan's accident happened about three-and-a-half weeks before that fight. Unless you have been through the same thing there's no way it can be articulated. She was going to go with me. I just knew she wouldn't have wanted me to quit. I wasn't going to. There was no other choice BUT to fight. I wanted to win that belt for Megan, and I did.
BH: Was it hard to stay focused during your training and title bout with such a traumatic experience?
ET: Sure, of course. I cried all the time - before training, after training, during training. Fighting is 75% mental. I knew if I could get through this, my God, I could get through anything. I knew I had to do it. Fighting and training is CAKE compared to going through the loss of your sister and best friend.
BH: You were disqualified in your final match of the Smack Girls 2004 World Remix after you easily disposed of two opponents in the
8-woman tournament and were well on your way to defeating Megumi Yabushita when you were DQ'd. What exactly happened for you to get the DQ and do you honestly feel it was a fair decision?
ET: I have already beaten Megumi. I broke her arm in half three years ago. I basically think it is sad that a fighter of that caliber would have to cheat to win. I did not really expect her to do that. She felt the only way she could win was to hold onto the glove and use it in an illegal manner. You cannot hold onto the glove, etc. to perform moves. Instead of complaining, I lost my cool and I did something illegal as well. Unfortunately, I was caught and she was not. I think she took the easy way out and now Smack Girl knows that they really do not have the #1 fighter representing their organization. That's truly sad.
BH: How about a rematch with Yabushita, would that make it better?
ET: [Laughs] Yeah, it'll make it much better. We are going to do it in MY country this time.
BH: Who are your favorite fighters in the MMA sport?
ET: I love Rodrigo 'Minotauro' Noguiera and Wanderlei Silva. I think those guys are my two favorites. The dichotomy between the two is what makes them so fascinating. You have a technician and you have a brawler. They're awesome.
BH: It is well documented that you and Laila Ali don't like each other, in fact you to have had a war of words. Do you think you will ever get a shot at Laila, and what do you see in Ali that makes you think you can beat her?
ET: Laila is just really annoying. I know she will fight me - and that's great. She should probably go back to school after her fighting career as she has a pretty limited vocabulary. And as far as what I "see" in her that makes me think I can "beat her"? Well, that's a secret. I would not want to other girls to steal my game plan!
BH: What has been your toughest bout in the no holds barred sport and in the boxing ring?
ET: My first MMA fight was the hardest. I went to Aruba and they basically said this girl had 2-3 MMA fights. Well, she did, but she also had about 25 kickboxing fights. She was a brute. We fought for ONE 15 minute round and I received a draw. I was happy that I did so well with someone of that caliber. It was a great learning experience and I knew I had a future in this sport. I also knew that if I wanted to keep doing this, I would actually have to train! I think my first boxing fight was the worst too. Along with not training properly, I also had a kick boxer teaching me how to box. The training for boxing is SOOO different compared to MMA. I think, no I KNOW, I just wasn't prepared.
BH: What is your main goal in your career?
ET: I am now the #1 female MMA fighter. I would like to do the same in boxing and get as many belts and titles as I can. I just want to have fun.
BH: As a woman fighter in what is mostly filled with men do you feel you get the respect you deserve?
ET: It's 50/50. Like I said, I get a lot of respect from the people I train with or who have seen what I am capable of doing. You constantly have to prove yourself anyways - that's the nature of the beast. Unless, someone saw me fight or has trained with me, I am sure they'd still think, This girl LOOKS tough - but how good could she be? It rolls off my back, really. I have had 18 professional fights which is more then most men even have. I also have a winning record - I think that speaks for itself. I do Jiu Jistu, boxing, kickboxing, you name it. I have accomplished more then most men, let alone women.
BH: In the boxing ring who would you like to fight and why, and the same for the MMA arena?
ET: Ummmm, whomever. I just wanna stay active. I think people know who I wanna fight and why. There's no one for me to really fight in MMA. I might like a rematch with the girl I fought in Aruba to avenge the draw. But besides that? No-one really.
BH: Which do you like to compete in more and which do you feel you are better at, boxing or MMA?
ET: Now, I like boxing better. For a while it was equal. I still train my ground fighting and I DO love that. But I don't really miss kick boxing. I know I am great at MMA. I think I am good at boxing too - but I know I have only shown a small bit of what I am capable of. I know I can do much more. I love boxing because it truly is a science. People have no idea on what the inner workings of boxing really are. It's amazing.
BH: Is there anything you would like to add to this interview and say in closing?
ET: I just want to thank everyone who has supported me and the other women in MMA and boxing. We need you to keep believing in us to stay strong! Also, please check my site out at www.erintoughill.com. There's a lot of pics and news updates. Thanks again!
I would like to thank Erin for taking the time out for the fans; her time and thoughts are very appreciated. For more info on Erin she wuold like to invite you to her website: Erin Toughill - Fight Girl: Jiu Jitsu, Kickboxing, Mixed Martial Arts.
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