With 49 professional wins (31 coming by way of knockout), she is one of the all time greats of women’s boxing. She is a world champion, a pioneer of the sport. She has fought on major Pay-Per-View cards alongside legends of the ring such as Mike Tyson, Julio Caesar Chavez, and Felix “Tito” Trinidad. She is the first female boxer to ever appear on the cover of Sports Illustrated. She is “The Coal Miner’s Daughter,” the one and only Christy Martin. In anticipation for the release of “12 Rounds in Lo’s Gym,” we checked in West Virginia’s greatest champion.
In “12 Rounds in Lo’s Gym” I write about your improbable rise to fame, from Beckley Toughman Contest Champion to World Champion. Legend has it you entered that Toughman Contest on a dare. Give us the story.
CM: The very truth is I loved watching boxing and I had that “I will show you” attitude, so when the opportunity came for me to compete in Toughman contest I was ecstatic. I was playing basketball at Concord and thought I was in shape to box if I was in shape to play basketball. I didn’t factor in timeouts and substitutes, if I had known then what I know now I would have never entered. I had no idea how much work it took to be a fighter. As my career grew, I found myself across the table from Don King- that was a bit overwhelming. Boxing paid for me to see lots of the world and I met a lot of great people that I still am friends with today.
My father was in attendance that night in Beckley. He had worked with a woman from our hometown named Kathy Cochran. Kathy ended up being your opponent in the championship bout. Any specific memories from that fight?
CM: Yes I remember that fight well. She was much bigger than I am and I thought “how am I going to reach her” but lucky for me I landed a great right hand and knocked her out. This was probably the night that I truly became hooked on boxing. The adrenaline rush from the punch and the cheers from the crowd is indescribable.
Some twenty odd years later, my father finally met up with you again at the International Boxing Hall of Fame. It was a real treat for my father to tell you how much of an inspiration you have been to the boxers in our gym (especially the young girls). During your career, did you feel an obligation to represent the state of West Virginia?
CM: I was always introduced as The Coal Miners Daughter from West Virginia. I felt I was always loyal to WV and represented positively. I regret that during my career I didn’t have a stronger WV presence, but I was controlled and not always allowed to do what I wanted to do. I am reaching out now to assist with Domestic Violence groups and Fairness WV. It was great to meet your dad so many years later and swap stories. He had actually worked with some of my family in the coal mines
Give us an update on what the “Coal Miner’s Daughter” is up to these days. I hear that you are making a name for yourself as a promoter.
CM: I miss being in the ring very much, so the next best thing is to be a promoter. I have promoted four shows in Charlotte over the past year with big plans for 2018, including bringing a show to West Virginia. This has been a great year, recently the BWAA named an award after me that will be awarded to the top female boxer yearly and a feature film about my life/career will start production soon.
Thank you for the love and support. On behalf of “Lo’s Gym” and all of West Virginia, we wish you the best.
CM: You are welcome. I love West Virginia and haven’t forgotten where I came from.
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[…] top five West Virginia Toughman Champions would be Christy Martin, Tommy Small, Billy Fox, Mike Sheppard and Mike […]
[…] West Virginia greats such as Tommy Small, Billy Fox, and Christy Martin , his boxing career began in the Toughman circuit. After becoming a Toughman Champion, he quickly […]