Boxing is an incredible sport filled with action and excitement. It can bring fans to the edge of their seats in an instant, or it can enthrall them with a technical showcase of skill. Whatever the case, it is most endearing when the stakes are high, and the drama is at a fever pitch.
Everyone loves a good show. Throughout history, there have been a handful of great boxing legends who have authored inspiring performances inside the ring — performances that have captured imaginations. These legends of the squared circle include guys such as Muhammad Ali and Rocky Marciano, Roberto Duran and Tommy Hearns, among others.
While these prolific boxers have carried the sport over the past few decades, boxing also has its fair share of unsung heroes. While boxing is often thought of as a being a male-dominated sport, not many realize that women have also played a prominent role in boxing history.
Among those who have built the sport into what it is today are amazing women who have dedicated their lives to boxing and have given fans just as much excitement as the men have.
Let’s take a step back and appreciate the amazing women who have helped build boxing into the sport that fans love today. Today, Evolve Daily shares five of the greatest female boxers of all time.
1) Lucia Rijker
Lucia Rijker was once known as “The Most Dangerous Woman in the World”, a nickname was given to her by the worldwide media. She is a former kickboxer originally from Amsterdam, Netherlands. After training in martial arts since the early age of six, Rijker began her professional boxing career in 1996.
It turns out, Rijker was just as successful a boxer as she was a kickboxer, and mowed through her opponents en route to a pristine 17-0 professional record in over a decade of excellence. Of her 17 victories, 14 came by scintillating knockout. Rijker is a multiple division world champion, winning the WIBF World Super Lightweight title and the WIBO Junior Welterweight title on separate occasions.
After her final bout in 2004 however, Rijker turned to Hollywood, appearing in the 2004 Oscar-winning film Million Dollar Baby as Billie ‘The Blue Bear’ Osterman. She has been an actress ever since, dabbling both in television and movies.
2) Cecilia Braekhus
Cecilia Braekhus of Norway is the reigning undisputed women’s welterweight world champion. Nicknamed “The First Lady”, Braekhus holds the IBF, IBO, WBA, WBC, and WBO welterweight titles.
Unbeaten in 33 bouts, she is the first female boxer in history, in any weight division, to simultaneously hold all major alphabet titles. She is also only one of four boxers in history, male or female, to have earned this distinction. Other fighters who have accomplished the feat include Bernard Hopkins, Jermain Taylor, and Terence Crawford.
At age 36, Braekhus is still going very strong. Most recently, she defeated Kali Reis last 5 May at the StubHub Center in Carson, California by Unanimous Decision to retain her titles.
Braekhus was named 2017 Female Fighter of the Year by the prestigious Boxing Writers Association of America (BWAA).
3) Laila Ali
The surname should ring a bell, because yes, Laila Ali is the daughter of all-time boxing great, and widely considered the greatest boxer to have ever lived, Muhammad Ali. The eighth of nine Ali children, Laila is known as one of the best female boxers in history and certainly did her father proud with her amazing body of work.
She competed largely from 1999 to 2007, switching careers from being a former nail salon owner to professional boxer. In the end, Laila completed her career winning all 24 of her professional bouts, 21 of which were incredible knockouts. World championships held include the WIBF Light Heavyweight title, as well as the IBA, WIBF, WIBA, and WBC Super Middleweight titles.
Following her boxing career, Laila became a television personality and celebrity, appearing in various programs such as Dancing With the Stars, American Gladiators, and The New Celebrity Apprentice, among others.
4) Regina Halmich
Credited for being the woman who led the female boxing explosion in Europe, Regina Halmich is a former boxer and kickboxer from Karlsruhe, West Germany. In 2016, prestigious outlet The Ring named Halmich as the second-best female boxer in history. Many experts consider Halmich as one of the most successful female boxers to ever lace up the gloves.
Throughout her time in the ring, Halmich was considered an elite talent, terrorizing opponents from 1994 to 2007. Her incredible skill and technique earned her a solid 54-1-1 professional record, including 16 knockouts. Halmich completed her career having won the WIBF junior flyweight, flyweight, and super flyweight titles.
Aside from boxing, Halmich is also a successful businesswoman, becoming one of the first female boxers in history to have her own line of cosmetics. She has also modeled for a handful of German magazines and websites.
5) Ann Wolfe
Known fondly as “Brown Sugar”, super middleweight sensation Ann Wolfe is widely regarded as the best female fighter of all time, as well as the strongest knockout puncher in female boxing history. Competing between 1998 and 2006, Wolfe amassed a stellar 24-1 record including 16 knockouts. She won the IBA light heavyweight world championship in 2004 and was officially holding a total of three world titles in separate weight classes simultaneously.
Today, Wolfe is retired professionally but has become a prolific boxing trainer, working the corners of some big names including light-middleweight contender James Kirkland, and her oldest daughter Jennifer Fenn, among others.
She retired from boxing in 2006, knocking out Cassandra Giger and beating Lisa Posted by decision.
Before her boxing career took off, Wolfe was working construction and at one point was homeless. Today, she is a prominent businesswoman and a mentor to many underprivileged youths through her various gyms. Wolfe also starred in the 2017 Hollywood blockbuster Wonder Woman, alongside Gal Gadot as the Amazon warrior Artemis.