There was no quit in Terri ”The Boss” Moss who won the WIBF Minimumweight and WIBA Intercontinental Straweight titles in her fifth title try. The amazing part about it was she was 41 years of age. She spent over five years and seventeen fights before she reached her goal as world champion! If she isn’t in the Guinness World Record Book she should be as the oldest female to win a world title!
I recently had contact with Moss who lives in Atlanta, Georgia. She was born in Denver, Colorado. Like a lot of boxers she got off to a bad start management wise losing her first three fights. The great Henry Armstrong had lost three of his first four fights. Under Chicago native “Doc” Keppner, Moss was told she was too old. “If you like boxing, learn to work corners or become an official in the amateurs, or get into promotions, train girls or something,” said Keppner. “I did all those things but still was not satisfied. Although Doc taught me how to build up purses and marquee value for opponents, how to work cuts, and how to book contracts, etc, I really just wanted to fight,” said Moss.
”In my heart I knew I was able to fight and win, so while I learned all kinds of ropes with Doc, my heart was secretly building my vision and sketching out my course. Doc wasn’t spending much time training me though, so I worked with other fighters in his gym to learn what little skill I had by the time I made my pro debut,” said Moss. It was hard in the amateurs in the masters division at one hundred and five finding an opponent. “Doc only knew how to build opponents, so naturally that was my course. Those two years in the gym with Doc I learned every way there is NOT to do things, so although it was a hard way to go, I still feel that what I learned was invaluable in what I do now. I knew my career would be a short one, so that experience has been an important part of what is required of me to be a top-tier trainer now that I have retired,” said Moss. Before he would turn her professional Moss underwent Interferon Therapy. Once cured of Hepatitis C, she resumed training to box competitively, entering the professional ranks at age 36.
In February of 2002 Moss made her professional debut against Wendy Sprowl, 5-1, who was the WIBF Americas Flyweight champion. Talk about a tough start! Moss traveled to Boston and lost the 4 rounder. Sprowl would retire after this fight. It would be almost 6 months before her next bout in San Antonio to fight future WIBA and IFBA world flyweight champion Maribel Zurita, 3-2-1. Once again she traveled to her opponent’s hometown losing a 4 rounder. “They had amateur experience while I went in totally green,” said Moss.
Just 2 weeks later in her third match Moss traveled to New Hampshire and met Miami’s Patricia Martinez, 6-1, who had just returned from a win in Spain. She was a national amateur champion and rated as the No. 1 one hundred and twelve pounder most of her career. “I rocked her in the fourth round with an overhand right that buckled her. Of course that was about the only decent punch I threw the whole fight. She lost the decision while Martinez would eventually retire at 12-1.
I didn’t know at the time, my heart, my worth, because everyone I knew even my family was laughing at me or shaking their heads in disgust at what I was doing. Some of my pastoral leaders in my church even came to me saying it was a real shame what I was doing to the image of Jesus and tried to evangelize me! I had been at that church for years, my daughter graduated from their school. I had been on so many mission trips with them all over the world that they were closer to me than my own family, and they all started looking at me with shame. It was so hard. I just couldn’t understand what made them think that a sport was betraying Jesus! I know now though, that boxing is so misunderstood, and MMA isn’t helping that image any, said Moss.
This prompted Moss to move to Atlanta, Georgia, and train under Xavier Biggs, former professional boxer from Philadelphia and the brother of Olympic Gold medalist and heavyweight title challenger Tyrell Biggs. She trained at several gyms with Biggs. At the time his gym was Biggs Boxing Forum in Atlanta.
Biggs would open the Decator gym outside of Atlanta. Moss noticed Nina Ahlin, 8-2-1, ranked #1 in her division. “I actually ran into Nina while attending a fight with Doc long before I fought. Seeing her at a fight motivated me to fight because I said to myself, I can beat her, and that’s when I started really training and visualizing to fight her and win, which came about almost exactly as I had envisioned for so long,” said Moss. The bout took place at the Roxy Theater, in Atlanta, and Moss won her first fight by split decision. A knockout win followed in Memphis and then she met Stephanie Dobbs, 4-5-1, back in Atlanta. Remember the name Dobbs for they would meet again. It was January of 2003 and Moss would win her third straight fight by decision in 4.
After evening her record at 3-3 Moss would move up to a six rounder against Vaia Zaganas, 6-1, the IFBA minimum champion in a non-title bout. It took place in Fort Lauderdale, and Moss would lose this one stopping her 3 fight win streak. A win would follow this fight back in Atlanta. She would travel to Madrid, Spain, jumping up to a ten rounder against Maria Jesus, Rosa, 16-0, for the WIBF light flyweight title. Moss would go the distance losing the decision. Just two fights later, Rosa would lose for the first time to WIBF flyweight champion Regina Halmich, 47-1-1, by split decision and retire from boxing.
In April of 2004 Moss would get back in the win column in Baton Rouge and then score her first stoppage bout in Greensboro, NC, in the first round. These two wins would earn her another title shot within a month’s time in Georgia with Hollie Dunaway, 12-3, the WIBA minimumweight champion. She had defeated Europe’s Kriszlina Belinszky, a future Moss opponent.
Moss would lose in 10 rounds and lose again in Baton Rouge. In spite of these losses she was put into her third world title bout with Mary Ortega, 27-2-1, the IWBF light flyweight champion, in Kansas City, MO. Moss would lose for the only time in her career within the distance when Biggs stopped the match in the second round.
Almost six months to the day Moss would get her fourth title shot in Budapest, Hungary, against Krisztina Belinszky, 16-4-2, for the vacant WIBC Minimumweight title. Moss would again go the distance but come up short. She suffered a broken nose early in the fight by an elbow or shoulder that was never called by the referee. In spite of this she showed the courage to go the distance. Their treatment was so bad in the ring and also the accommodations that Biggs sent a letter to the WBAN protesting. This was her fourth loss in a row against three of the best boxers in the world. In February of 2007 she would get back into the win column in Gainesville, GA, winning a six rounder.
Two months later Moss would score a second round stoppage in Winston-Salem, NC, that would earn her a fifth title attempt in three weight classes in May of 2007 in Tulsa, OK, against their Stephanie Dobbs, 24-24-4, for the vacant WIFB minimumweight title and the vacant WIBA Intercontinental Straweight title. Moss had defeated Dobbs back in 2003 in Atlanta and Dobbs was looking for revenge in her hometown this time. Moss moved and jabbed her way to a split decision with over ten rounds to win both titles! She was forty-one years of age and after one year and two failed attempts at defending her titles, Moss retired at the advice of her trainer and manager, Biggs. Her final record was 9-9 with three knockouts. The combined record’s of her opponents was 130-63-10.
Moss is a full time boxing trainer and personal trainer for women in an all-female boxing program at the Decatur Boxing Club in Decatur, GA. Moss trains competing amateur and professional boxers, conducts boxing fitness programs and is a personal trainer and author.
“I’m not fighting now, though I wish I was! Xavier wanted me to retire since I never had any backing and it was getting more expensive with the ridiculous medicals. As a fighter I’m still young! And I’m better than before my retirement,” said Moss. This sometimes happens when a boxer takes a break from fighting. “I’m starting a corporate boxing series called Atlanta Corporate Fight Night that is highly sponsored with each show serving a small local charity as the beneficiary for their charity boxing show, and I have my fitness program and my boxers. I just pray God will guide me toward success so I can stand on my own two feet in this boxing (business), which is something almost no female can do,” she added.
Recently three of the amateur boxers that Moss works with at the Decatur Boxing Club came back with medals and a championship belt by “Quicksilver” Crystal Bush at the women’s National Golden Gloves. Moss was kind enough to entertain a couple of questions from me.
KEN HISSNER: I was thrilled to get your e-mail learning that we are brother and sister to our savior Jesus Christ! Since I was about forty-five when I got born again and you are forty-four you had to get saved before me. Tell me about it.
TERRI MOSS: It is so incredible when I think about it Ken. So many things in my life have come about through “huge-impact” experiences. I was thirty years old, about four years before I stepped into a boxing gym for the first time. I was going through my second divorce, a relationship that lasted ten years. I was so hurt and I felt like such a failure that I was beginning to really question the true meaning of life. I remember lying on a hammock on my front porch thinking, “It’s true this is really all there is. Nothing has real meaning, we’re just here, living our lives only to die and be forgotten. And we struggle all for nothing, because nothing really matters. It’s all vanity.” It took almost a year of feeling like that before someone really opened my mind to see if there was more. You see, like most people I said I was a Christian. Of course I was, weren’t we all? We’re Americans aren’t we? And in my heart I didn’t have any idea if there really was a “God” or not, but I knew one thing, just in case, I was going to claim it if someone asked. So that’s where I was my whole life, and I suddenly realized there wasn’t, there wasn’t a God. In the strangest of circumstances I ran across a Christian chat room, as that was the primary location of social networking at that time, and saw people asking questions that I had been asking. Of course there were also some nuts in there who later I determined were obviously in there to destroy and divert people who were truly seeking someone who could share with them and didn’t know where else to go. So I befriended a person in there that didn’t witness to me, but taught me instead. When they asked me if I was a Christian, I replied yes of course, and they began to befriend me and ask me questions. I’m sure my new friend knew the truth, but instead of shoving Jesus down my throat, I was being taught like in Sunday school and it started making sense for me. I was told not to start in Genesis, where most non-Christians try to begin their learning. Instead I was sent to the gospels, “read them first” I was told, “then the rest will make sense.”
I remember the day I was born again. I had been reading, and was long past the gospels by then, and still unsure of some of the tings in the Bible that seemed impossible to believe, (though I was starting to believe). I sat holding my Bible and I prayed, “God I don’t know what in this Bible is true and what is not, but I’m going to believe that everything in it is true unless its something I know for a fact from first hand experience is not true”. Basically I made a deal with God. I would believe unless I could prove him wrong. So I would believe virgin births, raising the dead, moving mountains, etc. Immediately after that, it was like my eyes were seeing things on a different dimension. I could feel and see people’s spirits. I could see The Lord! I could see him in people; I could see other things in people, things that weren’t God. I could see! I didn’t know it, but that was the day I was born, because that day in my heart I agreed to believe on Jesus, because the Bible said so. And later, just to make sure, I prayed the prayer of salvation, and I never questioned again.
KEN HISSNER: After losing those first three fights were you discouraged?
TERRI MOSS: Not really, because then I knew everyone expected me to lose. I had in my mind what I wanted and that was Nina Ahlin. That fight would show what I was made of and once I got that things would change for me. It went exactly as I had planned.
KEN HISSNER: You fought some real tough opponents in your career like Maria Jesus Rosa, Hollie Dunaway, Mary Ortega and of course Krisztina Belinszky. I understand the experience going to Hungary was not a pleasant one with Belinszky. Tell us about it.
TERRI MOSS: In Budapest to say that the purse was a disgrace is putting it mildly, but we had seen Krisztina fight and honestly we couldn’t believe she was a champion. I would take this fight if it was free. I had heard things from her fight with Stephanie Dobbs who should have destroyed her. She was brought in two days before the fight and they brought us in the evening before the weigh-in. We were exhausted from the stress of arguing with them and the sixteen hour flight. Where they put us up the windows didn’t shut allowing the cold wind to come into my room, the streets were nosiy, and the shower didn’t work. We were offered liquor “shots” the minute we arrived and it was frowned upon that we would not take part. My trainer was even offered prostitutes, though I will not say who offered them. Then the fight night it just got worse. I refused to take pictures in my underwear at the weigh-in. Krisztina had a thong bikini. I wore small shorts and a jog bra. We were put in a dressing room with no heat and no chairs sharing with the main event fighter from Kenya. They moved our fight up without telling us and I refused to go out cold which made the crowd that much angrier. During the fight I was slow, my timing was off, but we felt we still edged the fight. I didn’t find out until later that I had been penalized points in the sixth round for head butting. I couldn’t understand a word the ref said. All I knew was that when ever I got close to Belinszky we were broken apart by the ref.
KEN HISSNER: Who would you say was your toughest opponent?
TERRI MOSS: I’ve had my most memorable fights with Stephanie Dobbs because she has so much heart and she has skill. I guess I see a lot of her in myself.
KEN HISSNER: I interviewed Lucia Rijker and am well aware of Regina Halmich who retired with a 54-1-1 record with about forty title defenses though some were against winless opponents. Had you looked up to either one?
TERRI MOSS: The truth is when I got into boxing I had no ideas who either of them were, but as I came to know them I very much appreciate their accomplishment and encourage my fighters to get to know about them. I looked up to my trainer Xavier Biggs. He taught me all I know. Even though I’m not boxing now and am of no real interest to him, he has given me a place in the gym, and I appreciate that.
KEN HISSNER: I know you are quite involved at just about every level of the fight business. What are your goals?
TERRI MOSS: I want to be an inspiration to female fighters and provide ways for them to shine, be that amateurs, professionals, or even white collar boxers. I only train the girls and believe that female trainers for female boxers are the progression of the sport. I want to become the best female trainer in boxing, to promote fights for women and have my own gym.
KEN HISSNER: I know you talked about fighting again and it’s been three years since your retirement. “Big” George Foreman won his last title at age forty-five and you being forty-four are there any plans of fighting again?
TERRI MOSS: Oh I would love to fight again. I’ve continued to work on my skills since retiring. I have better sparring than I ever did during my career with my own fighters and I’m in great shape. It would be very easy to fight again, but it would only be to do my retirement fight officially. If I had any money behind me, a person or promoter who had an interest in moving me toward a world championship again, I would do it without thinking.
KEN HISSNER: We had connected last year when the 1984 Olympic team was planning a re-union. Was there ever anything done about a get together? I know the 1976 team met at the IHOF in 2006 celebrating their thirtieth anniversary so maybe in 2014 the 1984 team will meet.
TERRI MOSS: I know Xavier Biggs has not let it rest since that show had to be postponed. The latest news I’ve heard is that a promoter here in Atlanta is bringing four of them here on August twenty-seventh to promote the actual reunion of the entire team that is set now in December of this year. I will definitely keep you posted about that.
KEN HISSNER: It’s been a real pleasure connecting with you again. Is there anything you would like to say to your fans?
TERRI MOSS: I just than them for being fans, and I ask for prayer and big support in endeavors with my fighters, my white collar boxing shows, (Atlanta Corporate Fight Night) and all that I am able to do in boxing.
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