Four time world champion and #1 world ranked light welterweight Sumya Anani, 23-1-1 (10), wants the boxing world to know that she is the best in her division when it comes to women’s boxing. And she is willing to fight the best to prove that she is the best. The only problem with that scenario is that the best out there aren’t willing to fight her. With repeated attempts to challenge the top female fighters, none of them are willing to accept her offers. But she continues to carry on and tries to make the best of the situation and hopes one day that she will get her due. In eight years as a pro boxer she has beat such fighters as Jane Couch, Fredia Gibbs and Lisa Holewyne, but her biggest win was back in 1998. Just two years into her career she stepped in the ring with the 'First Lady of Boxing' Christy Martin and came out with a majority decision win over the seasoned veteran. You would think that would propel her to get the exposure she so deserved, but six years later with one Intercontinental Title and four World Titles in three different weight classes she still remains largely unnoticed to the public eye. Why would a #1 ranked fighter as herself not get the attention she has fought for all these years? Simple, she is to dangerous for any well known fighter to step into the ring with. Not having a big name doesn’t mean she doesn’t pack a big punch. She wants a rematch with Christy Martin so she can get the publicity she feels she deserves and showcase her talents to the world. But more than any fight right now she wants Lucia Rijker. She has challenged Rijker and Lucia won’t acknowledge it. She will even donate her whole purse to charity to fight Rijker. To Sumya it isn’t about the money, it is about producing the best fights out there to promote the sport of women’s boxing. In this interview with Doghouse boxing the 'massage therapist-slash-lady of destruction' talks about wanting Lucia Rijker, a rematch with Christy Martin, what it took her to get at this point and where she is going.
Benny Henderson Jr.: What is your main goal in women’s boxing?
Sumya Anani: I just want to help to promote the sport so all women that want to pursue this sport get a chance to do it. I would love to be the first woman to fight on HBO and that fight should be Lucia Rijker and I. Maybe go up and get all the belts at 147, who knows? I will probably have to do that since I can’t get anybody at 140 to fight me.
BH: Who do you want to step in the ring with?
SA: Lucia Rijker.
BH: Why do you want to fight her?
SA: I beat Christy Martin six years ago and Rijker is still making this big stink about wanting to fight Martin and I don’t understand that. I understand from the marketing and money aspects, but to me the sport is about trying to be the best and fighting the best. I’m ranked #1 in three organizations over Lucia Rijker so her and I seem like the most logical fight out there in my decision.
BH: Do you feel that Rijker is ducking you?
SA: I know she’s ducking me.
BH: Why is that?
SA: I have spoken to her, I was like Lucia let's build this fight up and she never acknowledges it. In her last interview with fight news they asked her who she wanted to fight, she didn’t even say my name. She said Christy Martin and Laila Ali. See, everybody is going after these money trains. I was marketed properly. Christy and I were supposed to fight on Showtime and she pulled out of the fight two hours before the fight. So when I did finally get the chance to fight Christy it was on an off-brand cable channel that nobody sees. So the boxing world knows that I beat her but the public doesn’t. Because Christy Martin still has the big name and Laila Ali obviously has a big name Rijker is going after them name fighters.
BH: Do you feel that you get the respect and the publicity that you deserve?
SA: I think I get the respect, but the publicity? No, and I am working on being better at that. I was so naive for so many years in thinking all I had to do was train and fight the best and win that everything else would come. I didn’t realize that I really had to market myself.
BH: After your win over Christy Martin in 1998, I was reading somewhere that Don King made an offer to you for you to fight under him.
BH: Why didn’t you take that offer?
SA: First of all he offered me something to lock me in my whole boxing career, and I didn’t know back then that you cold negotiate. I thought you had to take it like it was or don’t take it at all. Also, I didn’t know how good I was even though I just finished beating the poster girl of the sport I had only been boxing for two years. I never had any amateur experience and I really didn’t know how good I was. It has taken me a long time to really understand that nobody can beat me. There is no girl that can beat me and it has taken me a long time to take up that confidence.
BH: Do you regret not signing with Don King?
SA: Yes and no. I know he really could have helped out with me a name like he did with Martin. But at the same time I believe all things happen for a reason.
BH: If he offered you a deal now would you take it?
SA: Probably, yes I have come along way but I think he doesn’t have women on his boxing cards anymore, I think he is turned off by it. When I fought Christy on King’s under card I couldn’t tell you how many people that works for Don King came up to me and said beat her ass. They said they couldn’t stand her and wanted me to beat her up. Don King was just so glad to get rid of her because she was such a headache. I think that might be part of him not having women fight for him right now.
BH: You stated an open challenge on a website that you would fight Lucia Rijker for expenses only and you would donate your purse to charity. Would you honestly do that?
SA: Yes I would because I am trying to make a point. I think Christy is bastardizing the sport because she is past her prime and now she’s going after the money instead of really helping support the sport of women’s boxing. I want to help the women that come up behind of me and help the sport grow. I want women’s boxing to be in the Olympics one day. And everything that I do and my actions help or hurt them girls chances. For me to fight Rijker I would gladly donate my purse to charity. I want to make a point that it isn’t all about money.
BH: What charity would you donate too?
SA: There are a couple that are my favorite, but I really like St. Jude’s Hospital.
BH: I read that you still want to fight Christy Martin again, why get a rematch if you already beat her once so convincingly?
SA: I beat her once and I know that I can beat her again obviously. But the thing is, is that the fans don’t know it. She pulled out of that fight card real sneaky because she knew if she got beat on TV things would change. For me to get that exposure and actually show everybody on TV that I beat her once and I’m going to do it again. I want the exposure; all these years I have fought the girls that Martin and Rijker have dodged. I have become the most dodged fighter in the sport it seems like. I come to a point where I deserve to be making the top money because I am the top woman fighter.
BH: What advice would you give to a young lady fighter?
SA: Make sure that you have good people that you trust, good trainers and people that care about you [rather] than are just in it to make a quick buck off of you. Make sure that your trainer has experience; some girls are trying to learn from people that have never fought.
BH: What is the bad blood between you and Christy Martin? Is it really bad blood or are you just trying to promote a fight or what?
SA: The bad blood between Christy and I is because she got beat by somebody who had two years experience and I beat Christy at her own game. I didn’t go in there and try to box and try to move, I went after her and I fought her fight. I backed he up ten rounds on the inside, she has never had to fight like that before. She would always go in there and fight on the inside and tear people apart. Maybe she thought she could do that to me, but I went in there and took it to her and I was right there and didn’t run. I beat her up and I beat her in her prime, and I think that is hard for her to accept that loss. Some people are not sportsman when it comes to losing. With Laila she will always have that excuse that Ali was bigger than her and I think that is why she wants to fight her again because if she doesn’t win it will be because Ali was bigger than her. She knows that I beat her hands down at her own game and that is just hard for her to swallow I guess.
BH: Your 1996 bout against Katherine Dallam, she suffered career-ending injuries. What are your thoughts on that fight?
SA: First of all she has improved, I keep in touch with her lawyer so every now and then I will call and check up on her. She is now living on her own, driving and working again. What people don’t know about that fight is that it was a mismatch. She weighed 35 pounds more than me. I wasn’t told that going into the fight. Also the night before the fight she drove home with her trainer and was involved in a car accident. She must have got some internal bleeding. For something like that to happen and then fight is crazy. She should have disclosed that to the doctor that she was in a car accident the night before the fight. Her trainer should have never let her fight that fight.
BH: What has been your toughest bout to date?
SA: My very first toughest fight was Stacey Prestage who was a 3-time world champion; she was my first step up. She fought Christy Martin, and the funny thing Martin left the ring because she thought she lost and they actually had to call her back in the ring because they gave her the fight. My second biggest fight was Christy Martin, which was a tough fight. My third was? Man, I have had so many of them.
BH: What has been your greatest accomplishment?
SA: Beating Stacey Prestage and Christy Martin. I didn’t have a lot of experience when I beat those two. It just shows you how good of a trainer I have and how hard I work.
BH: What is your training regime?
SA: I shadowbox and do my bag work pretty much everyday. I lift weights and practice yoga 2 or 3 times a week.
BH: Why did you start boxing?
SA: I met my trainer at a regular gym. He kept telling me that I should fight. He brought me that Sports Illustrated with Christy Martin on it and told me that I could do that. He came over my house one day and told me he had a fight for me in three weeks and that’s when I started fighting.
BH: How far do you think women’s boxing has come since you first stepped in the ring?
SA: The women’s amateurs are growing a lot and that is really good. They are having entire women’s championship fights. When I first started boxing a lot of women just turned pro and didn’t have an amateur career. It will start being a lot more competitive.
BH: What do you think the future holds for women’s boxing?
SA: It depends on the women that are in the pros now that get recognition; it is what they do with that attention and all. Why I say that Christy Martin is hurting the sport because the two biggest fights in women’s boxing that she has had were mismatches. Ali and her was a huge mismatch; you would never see Diego Corrales fight Bernard Hopkins because of the weight difference. But because they are two big names they are trying to sell that fight to the fans like it is the only fight out there. I don’t see Christy going up to 154 pounds because she is like 5’4”. It wouldn’t be a good weight for her to gain. If these woman that get a lot of exposure and media attention, if they would really use that wisely and fight legitimate contenders it would work. Like Laila Ali stepping in the ring with Ann Wolfe or Christy Martin stepping in the ring with Lucia Rijker and stop trying to just make all the money they can make, it really turns the fans off when they have them mismatched fights.
BH: Would you like to step in the ring with Lalia Ali?
SA: Yes I would. I could gain the weight and make the fight without it affecting me like Christy. Ali and I could meet but I don’t think she would fight me. She has people in her own division that she won’t fight right now.
BH: Who do you feel the top woman boxer of all time is?
SA: I want to prove that I am the top woman fighter. I would love to fight Rijker and prove that I am the best. Let’s go Lucia! Why do you want to fight Christy when I beat her? Let’s see who is the best.
BH: Why do you think it is so hard for you to get the good fights?
SA: The women are scared to fight me. We have offered fights to Jamie Clampitt, Sunshine Fettkether, Eliza Olsen, and Mary Jo Sanders. A promoter contacted Jane Couch because she said she wanted a rematch with me and she turned it down. The promoter asked whom I wanted to fight and I said anybody. He called so many girls and none would fight me.
BH: How did it feel to go back and avenge your only loss to Britt Van Buskirk?
SA: It feel really good Benny, I don’t know if you ever seen pictures of Britt but I lost to her because I thought she was a man. If you look at her she looks like a man. That fight showed me how important the mental state can affect you. I totally lost it with her because I was scared to death.
BH: Is there anything you would like to say to the fans in closing?
SA: Thanks for their support and I hope they continue to support the women.
BH: Is there anything you would like to say to the other ladies in the sport of boxing?
SA: I want to say to the ladies that actually get in the ring, come on girls let’s step up to the plate when it is time to step it up. Let’s take the chance to help promote the sport for not just yourself but also the others in it.
Sumya Anani’s World Titles
WIBA Junior Welterweight
GBU Junior Welterweight
IFBA Junior Welterweight
I would like to thank Sumya Anani for taking out the time for the fans and Doghouse Boxing. I really had a good time and I hope you finally get the fight you deserve. For more information on Sumya visit her website: www.sumya.com.
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