Interview with Christy Martin: The First Lady of Boxing Part 2
By Benny Henderson Jr. (Aug 24, 2004) Part I
Undoubtedly the biggest attraction in women’s boxing, Christy Martin had a lot to say to the Doghouse about her boxing career and her future in the sport. In part one of this interview she covered the beginning of her career, her thoughts on the sport, her fondest memories, and most of all her bout and hopefully a rematch with Laila Ali. Since she began her boxing career in 1989, Martin has been involved in some of the greatest bouts involving female boxers. Her show stopping performances always get the fans salivating for more and it is this quality that has made Christy Martin the 'First Lady of Women’s Boxing'. With hopes of a rematch against Ali and finally getting a bout with Lucia Rijker, Martin says she is not done just yet. In the last installment of this interview we will cover the possibility with a bout against Rijker, what prompted her to step in the ring and her husband/manager Jim Martin will jump in the conversation to give us his thoughts on Christy’s past and future in the sport.
Benny Henderson Jr.: What inspired you to want to box?
Christy Martin: While I was getting my degree in education I went to this tough man/tough woman contest and some people said come on Christy you could win a thousand bucks, enter into it. I was playing basketball at the time so I was in decent shape so after awhile I said ok I’ll go for it. I was lucky that I was in pretty good shape and I had some athletic ability. Most of the women that entered were just tough women. They were bar room brawlers and bad, but they really wasn’t as tough as they thought they were. They was smoking and drinking so after thirty seconds they were out of gas.
BH: What can the fans expect from you in the future, and when do you plan on stepping back in the ring?
CM: Well at this point we really don’t know but I am hoping not too much longer, maybe sometime in September. I am training hard and picking up my roadwork and hitting the gym pretty hard and I plan starting to spar again in another week. I want to get my timing back and once I come back I am coming back with a fury. I am coming back to make a statement. So many people have come up to me and asked me when am I going to step back in the ring with Laila Ali again. You got to fight her again we want to see you beat her, and a lot of people ask me if I am going to retire. But there is no way that I am going to retire on that fight.
BH: You feel you have something left to prove?
CM: I really don’t think that I have to prove anything, but I think that I still have a lot left to prove. I want to be the first woman to get 50 wins. I think we still have a lot left to give and a lot of excitement to bring. Like I said I’m going to come back fighting more pressure style like I used to. Somewhere along the lines I started setting back and became a counter puncher and I don’t think that is my best interest.
BH: If there was an Ali-vs-Rijker fight, who do you think would win?
CM: I would probably have to go with Laila because I am not sure what kind of chin Lucia has. I don’t think Rijker has the skill or heart to beat Laila.
BH: How do you want the fans to remember you?
CM: That I came out and fought my hardest each and every time out. No matter what happened I gave it my all. I hope they understand that I respected the fans and I always tried to take time for them. If I ever walked by somebody who wanted a picture or autograph it wasn’t intentional. I was a woman outside of the ring and fought my butt off in the ring.
BH: Dumb question but I have to ask this one. You know how woman are about their weight and age.
CH: [Laughing] Right.
BH: Everybody knows your weight and age, does that bother you? [Laughing]
CM: People always ask me what is the worst part of this women fighting and it is exactly that. You have to stand up there in front of thousands of people so they can announce your weight to the world. And basically everybody knows how old you are. The spitting in front of everybody, you got to do what you got to do. [Laughing]
BH: Have you a Jim talked about starting a family?
CM: Oh yes defiantly, we are both kind of against the wall with the biological clock and my career. So we get these five wins we will see.
BH: What advise would you give to a young lady who wanted to box?
CM: I would say use boxing as a workout and get into shape. But it is a tough business and I am not sure it is worth it because is it worth it to go out there and fight your butt off for $400? I’m not sure it is.
BH: How has boxing treated you financially?
CM: I have been lucky with getting hooked up with Don King. He paid me good. So we have been very fortunate and made some good paydays in boxing.
BH: Do you have a real good fan base?
CM: I like to think so. When I go to the fights a lot of fans are always there and want to talk with me. I hope people appreciate what I have done in the past 12 years.
BH: What do you want in the future?
CM: I defiantly want the rematch with Laila.
BH: What do you think of Laila Ali?
CM: I think she has a terrible attitude, she doesn’t understand how to conduct herself with the fans. She has a lot on her shoulders, she is representing her father and I think her father would really be ashamed to know some of the things she does. Especially with her husband and some of the things he does. As a fighter I give her credit because she went to the gym and trained and improved.
BH: Did you get to meet Mike Tyson when you were fighting on his under card fights?
CM: Oh yeah, I think Mike was the reason King continued to put me under him. He was very supportive and on the second fight that I was on of his, he had King buy me a BMW. He has done some crazy things but he has always been real nice to Jim and me. He’s crazy like fox.
BH: What about Lucia Rijker?
CM: I wouldn’t say that we have been chasing Lucia, but we haven’t run from her either. Don King tried to make the fight several times. He tried to get her to sign in 1998 and had her in his office a few times and could never get her to sign to fight me. For whatever reason, if it was because I was with Don or whatever reason, everybody chose to believe Lucia when she said I wouldn’t fight her. Well, since the Ali fight I have had three different promoters call me and all represented themselves with working with Lucia. They asked me if I was interested in a fight with her, well we jumped on it and even sat in Vegas for 3 hours over this one morning. But as soon we agreed, they stopped calling. I believe in my heart that they wanted Jim and I to say that we wouldn’t fight her. It wasn’t about money because we never got to that point.
BH: I have a back issue of the Ring dated January 1998 and on the top is a photo of Lucia Rijker. It states “The Woman who is going to kick Christy’s butt.” Inside she states that after she beats you she would give you a rematch and beat you again. What are your thoughts?
CM: This is how I look at Lucia. Let’s say that the roles were reversed and Lucia was the one getting the attention and the exposure that I was getting. I had a fight with Kathy Collins whom a lot of people thought she would beat me. If Lucia was really serious about fighting me, why didn’t she jump right on and fight Kathy Collins after I did? Just to say that Christy didn’t knock her out but I am? Other girls that I fought that were considered top fighters why didn’t she jump on them after I did? She didn’t even stay busy in her career. If you would look at her record she really hasn’t fought anybody. These last two fights that she has had has been the toughest of her career. You never took any big challenges.
BH: What was it like working with Don King?
CM: My situation with Don wasn’t bad. My husband Jim is my manager and my trainer, so he dealt with Don. I was with Don for almost 10 years and it is like any marriage, when you have been together that long you will have ups and downs and love and hate. As far as boxing went I got everything he said I would get. He paid me what he said I would. I had great opportunities fighting on the Tyson cards. My time with Don was positive. I think he could have promoted me more outside of boxing and I could have made some easy money but it didn’t happen. It was more good than bad though.
BH: What has been your toughest fight?
CM: My toughest fight is with me. Trying to believe in my self, I never think I’m ready or will perform good. I always want to be better. In the ring I have had a lot of wars. The Laila fight was the hardest for me to deal with, and Sumya Anani beat me by a majority decision, that was a tough fight, she was a strong girl. But she is another on that talks all this crap about me. I never seen somebody beat someone and then chase him or her down for a rematch. It just shows me that she is out for the payday. Basically I turn all my fights into hard fights.
BH: Your first loss was against Andrea DeShong and you avenged that loss and now you want Ali. Would you want to fight Sumya again to get that one back also, or does it really matter?
CM: I’m with her like De La Hoya was with Vargas. I look at Sumya like that, why give her the chance to make a good payday. She talks so much crap about me and really she hasn’t done anything since she beat me. Nobody really knows her too much. But still my pride and competitiveness wants to fight her again. Really no promoter has called me and offered me the fight with her. So it has never been an issue. I know that Don tired to make the rematch but she wanted too much money so she shut herself out of that. But since then nobody has called and offered me the fight.
BH: What is your best quality as a fighter is?
CM: I would like to believe it is my heart and courage. I had a tough time taking the knee and staying down against Laila. Out of all my fights, I had that one weak moment. Other than that it is courage and determination. I have good power in my left hook and trying to get better this late in my career.
Now the interview turns to Christy’s husband-trainer-manager Jim Martin.
BH: How hard was it for you to get Christy fights in the beginning with her being a woman and all?
Jim Martin: Well, all the promoters wanted was a woman fighter that looked like a woman. They would tell me that they didn’t want a woman to look like a dyke. If they looked like a man they would just go ahead and fill the fight card with men. That was their main concern, so that wasn’t a problem with us.
BH: How did you start training Christy?
JM: Well I had a gym and I got a phone call and was told that Christy was going to come in and they wanted me to take a look at her. I didn’t want to do it. I didn’t feel that a woman should be in a gym. So I had it set up for the sparring partner to break a few of Christy’s ribs so it would make her change her mind. Well, she came in there and I thought that she really had something.
BH: How different is it with a man boxing and women fighting?
JM: Man I tell yah, I thought men were cut-throats but they are nothing compared to women. The women are bad man. Hell, all the woman now want Christy to get out there and help them, she already has. I think they should give Christy 30% of there purses. [Laughing]
BH: The next three fights, who do you want Christy to face?
JM: After a couple of tune-ups I want to get the rematch with Laila Ali and you can quote this “Laila isn’t crazy enough to give Christy a rematch.” She knows it was a lucky punch. After she had Christy hurt she still couldn’t put her out. Maybe a rematch with Mia St. John, that would be a good fight. And Rijker of course. As far as Sumya, it doesn’t really matter. I feel Christy really beat her. We never ever seen Sumya fight before or after she fought Christy. She just wants a payday and use Christy’s name.
BH: In closing is there anything you would like to say to the fans?
CM: I want to say thank you to all that have supported me. It means a lot to Jim and I and I will be back soon and better then ever.
I would like to thank Jim & Christy Martin for their kindness. I had one heck of a time talking with you both, especially Jim off-the-record. Sorry a lot of it was left out, but it was probably for the best [Laughing] Thanks for the advice and the interview for Doghouse. Christy, you are a Champ. For more information on Christy visit her website: Homepage.
Back to Part I
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