Down for the Count

Christy Martin has fallen. The women's boxing world hopes she won't get up.

Martin's loss to Anani was reminiscent of heavyweight Jimmy Young's loss to Ozzie "Jaws" Ocasio in 1978. Young, who also annoyed King, needed to be taught a lesson. King arranged this by having him fight Ocasio, a real spoiler who knew precisely how to unravel Young. "King is poison to fighters he has under contract who give him trouble," says Goldman, who has been on the Don King watch since the promoter's ascent to power. King, who currently has 14 women professionals under contract, will certainly save money on Martin, whose purses are said to be up to 10 times more than those of her opponents.

Though Martin can be credited with bringing coverage to women's boxing at a time when people were squeamish about seeing women in the ring, Martin desecrated the sport in other ways. "The lesson of Christy Martin," says Frankie G Globuschutz, "is don't separate yourself from the pack. If the public holds you up as a superstar, OK. But Martin tried to say she was holding the sport up, and she was proved absolutely wrong."

Globuschutz thinks in practical terms— dollars and sense— about the future of women's boxing. In the past, the sport was primarily fueled by bursts of inspiration and individuals' personal savings accounts. Then, the all-women cards— which Frankie G usually had a hand in organizing— helped bring it to new heights. Devoted fans would travel hundreds of miles to attend the matches, much like followers of the Grateful Dead once did. These collaborative efforts were started essentially as a response to the obstacles presented by Martin.

Beaten and bloodied: Christy Martin, boxing icon
AP/ Wide World
Beaten and bloodied: Christy Martin, boxing icon

Now women's boxing is achieving increasing media fanfare and female fighters are able to display their skill and wit on the same canvas as men. Though she served as the sport's figurehead during its rise, that emergence came about largely in spite of Christy Martin, not because of her.

Hitting Above the Belt

The squeamishness many have about women's boxing has to do with the potential physiological damage incurred by routine boxing techniques. In other words, folks often worry about what happens when women get hit in the breasts. Well, so does the Association of Boxing Commissions, which presides over the rules of professional boxing. All female boxers are required to wear a breast protector— typically a double-padded sports bra with plastic cups in between— during sanctioned bouts. (No official word yet on whether George Foreman must wear such a contraption.) Pre-fight pregnancy tests are also required.

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