Before great female fighters such as Ann Wolfe and Laila Ali took the boxing world by storm, Christy Martin helped place it on the map.
Martin recently sat down with Boxing Insider Radio which airs every Tuesday and is available on iTunes, Spotify and Boxinginsider.com, to discuss her induction into the boxing hall of fame. She also gave her opinion on Claressa Shields and what a showdown against Laila Ali would have looked like.
The career of a female boxer has never been known for its longevity. With both Ali and Wolfe’s career lasting nine years, Martin found a way to stick around the sport of boxing for 23 years. Throughout much of the 1990s and the early 2000s Martin was the face of women’s boxing.
The ridiculous amount of hard work that she put in has paid off as she will be inducted into the boxing hall of fame later this year.
It may have seemed like a no brainer decision for everyone else looking on the outside but Martin was left speechless when she heard the news.
“I remember being the Grand Marshall for the boxing hall of fame induction weekend back in 1996,” said Martin on Boxing Insider radio. “Just to be around all of those legends it was great. Never could I have imagined that I would be inducted into the boxing hall of fame. It’s a dream come true.”
Martin may have did all of the hard work inside of the ring, but her soon to be hall of fame career wouldn’t have been possible if it wasn’t for her promoter, Don King.
“I was just really lucky to get Don King involved in my career. So I got the chance to fight on the undercard of Mike Tyson numerous times. Fighting in Vegas and Madison Square Garden. I got exposure like no other female fighter had ever gotten. I honestly think that Don King is the world’s greatest promoter. He bought a lot of excitement to boxing and he made every fight an event. I remember fighting on those pay-per-view shows and he had world champion 12 round fights on the undercard that didn’t even make tv time. He was great at what he did.”
Times have changed. Having a championship fight on the non-televised portion of a card today would simply never happen. Hell, it’s difficult just getting one in the co main event.
When we take a look at the resume of Martin, it resembles someone’s idea of a cruel sick joke as she fought a murderous row of competition. Martin ducked no one in her fighting career and it shows on her resume. It’s the very reason why she managed to get a spot in the hall of fame. It’s almost hard to believe that it’s been seven years since anyone has last seen her in the ring.
At age 51, she still looks like she can compete in the ring right now, but don’t count on it. With the sort of fighters she’s fought, Martin’s name isn’t mentioned nearly as much as it should in the discussion of who was the greatest woman of all time (G.W.O.A.T).
At the moment, the G.W.O.A.T title has been seemingly taken away by Claressa Shields. Her claim to that lofty status isn’t without merit. Not only does Shields have two gold medals but she also has world titles in three different weight classes. Yet, none of those accomplishments mean anything to Martin as she considers Shields claim to the mantle a tenuous one.
“My momma told me a long time ago that if you don’t have something good to say about somebody or something you shouldn’t say anything. Claressa Shields has accomplished great things as an amateur fighter. To get the honor to go to the Olympics is awesome. Of course that is something that wasn’t even available to the ones that came before her.”
If you ever took the time to sit down and watch a male boxer speak during a press conference, you’ll notice just how brash, cocky and maybe even board line delusional they can come across at times. Females on the other hand, are usually much more reserved.
Not Shields. She’s a great fighter, and she knows it, but she wants to keep reminding the world just how great she is.
That penchant for trash talk and giving herself all the praise in the world might bring in high ratings whenever she fights, but it doesn’t sit well with Martin.
“I think that she is young but she has great marketing people around her. I don’t know why they haven’t sat her down and told her that she needs to pay a little more respect for the people that came before you. Had it not been for them, your road would not have been so easy. You probably would not have been given the opportunity to even box, had these women not come before you.”
Cast aside the brashness of Shields and just view her as a talent. Simply put, she’s one of the very best that women’s boxing has ever seen. But much like every other great fighter in their respective sports, they are always compared to those that came before them.
In the case of Shields, her comparison partner has always been and always will be, Laila Ali. So just like any other comparison, the question becomes, who would win between the two?
If anyone can give a sound judgement on how a fight between Shields and Ali would play out had they fought in their primes, it would be Martin. She did after all lose via stoppage to Ali back in 2003. When asked the question, Martin didn’t hold back with her response.
“Laila would bust her ass. It is what it is,” said Martin. “Claressa Shields doesn’t fight coming forward and she can’t fight going backwards. She wants to cry about needing to fight three minute rounds so that she can knock girls out but I knocked out 31 girls in two minute rounds so I don’t understand why it takes so long, if you’re going to get it done, then get it done.”
While the opinion of Martin is respected, Shields has never been the type to hold her tongue for anyone. So it seems like it’s only a matter of time before she responds.