This convention is surrounded by many memories, anecdotes and nostalgia that are kept in our memory with pride. Among all that history, women’s boxing has a great space in Orlando, Florida, where it will celebrate and share the union of ONE BOXING with the 100 years of life of the World Boxing Association.
It all began with a dream, a passion for the sport and a commitment to create a safer and more caring boxing for athletes, who are the main actors. It was right there on July 2, 1921, when the organization was founded under the name of National Boxing Association (NBA) and the first Heavyweight world title sanctioned by the NBA was disputed. A historic event that many years later, under the new name of World Boxing Association (WBA), also took a step forward when the French boxer Myriam Lamare faced the American Eliza Olson at the Palaos Ombisport in Paris on November 8, 2004. After 10 rounds, Lamare became the first lightweight world champion recognized by the WBA body.
Lamare, with her aggressive style and her ring dancing skill in her 26 fights, set the pace for a long list of world champions harvested by the WBA. For example, Jisselle Salandy who has been the youngest world champion in history so far and who also broke the record by winning eight belts in one fight. Sadly, she died in a traffic accident on January 4, 2009 when she was only 21 years old. The first WBA-appointed super champion, Susi Kentikian, or the mighty Anne Sophis Mathis, who took the WBA lightweight crown from her compatriot from France and pioneer, Myriam Lamare.
The boxing evolution included the arrival of women to whom Mr. Gilberto Mendoza Sr. decided to open the doors with the confidence that someday the harvest of achievements would be what we can see today; great title fights between the best pound for pound women boxers, the inclusion to Olympic card, a regulation and their ratings.
They have achieved with sweat and tears, many successes, and the WBA is proud to accompany and promote as it has done it since that historic evening held in La Guaira, Venzuela on June 18, 2016, which was included in the Guinness World Records as the first professional boxing card with more fights of Women’s World Championships. The event, named “The Battle of Champions”, consisted of 7 bouts, 4 for world titles and 3 for regional titles, between boxers from seven countries. In addition, each contest was judged by female judges: Gloria Rizzo of the Nicaragua-USA, Melva Santos of Puerto Rico, Reina Urbáez of Venezuela, Sparkle Lee of the United States and Aída Tejada of Panama.
Each special guest at the Centennial Convention in Orlando is a reflection of the great work done in the past by women who have given their heart and soul. Therefore, it will be an honor to have the presence of the pioneer Christy Martin, whose spectacular fight against Deidre Gogarty on March 16, 1996, was considered the beginning of modern women’s boxing and gave visibility to it from then on.
Franchon Crews Dezurn, the recent 168 lbs. unified champion who managed to win all the belts of the 4 main boxing organizations in a historic fight on April 30, 2022 at Madison Square Garden. “La Diva” Dezurn unanimously outpointed the gritty Elin Cederroos.
Jackie Nava, “The Aztec Princess”, emblem of Mexican women’s boxing, thrilled the world with her farewell to the boxing ring last October of this year in a brilliant fight against the Argentinean boxer Gloria Yancaqueo. Jackie was WBA bantamweight champion, when she won it on February 28, 2005 by technical knockout in the seventh round against Martha Arevalo. Then, in January 2012, she was crowned again with the black and gold in super bantamweight until becoming super champion with six successful defenses.
Alycia Baumgardner, “The Bomb”, born in Fremont, Ohio, United States is another strong current figures. She has a total of 13 wins with 7 knockouts and only 1 loss. On October 15 of this year, she became the new unified super featherweight champion after defeating the tough Olympian Mikaela Mayer and is waiting for her next fight with Hyun Mi Choi to win the WBA crown and complete her absolute reign in the division.
Yesica Bopp, “La Tuti”, a historical female light flyweight warrior from Argentina to the world. At the beginning of 2022 she was included in the Guinness World Records as the first boxer with the longest reign of a world title. She held the WBA belt for 13 years and completed a total of 23 defenses until March of this year. Bopp disseminates motivational information to young people through her networks, in courses and even as a commentator on television on a local channel in Argentina.
Marlén Esparza, from Texas and with Mexican blood running through her veins, is one of the outstanding figures of the moment. She starred in one of the most spectacular fights of recent times when in November 2019 she disputed the WBA flyweight interim with Seniesa Estrada. A duel of talents that left the audience on their feet for a long time. She is currently the 112-pound champion.
Hyun mi Choi, who resides in South Korea, has been super featherweight champion since May 2014 and has a total of 9 defenses along with an undefeated record of 20 fights with only one draw. At 32 years old, Choi is a great reference for young women in Korea. In addition, she held the featherweight title from October 2008 to May 2013 with 7 defenses until she decided to make the jump to the next level
Kina Malpartida, known as ” Dynamite”, is the first world champion that Peru has ever produced. She won the WBA super featherweight title on February 21, 2009 when she defeated American Maureen Shea by technical knockout in the tenth round. That was an undercard of a super bout at Madison Square Garden in New York where Miguel Cotto was the star of the show against Michael Jennings. Kina made a total of six defenses of the crown. She is today the WBA Female Championships Vice Chairman.
Jelena Mrdjenovich, a historic boxer from Canada who has been able to shine and wear the featherweight crown since March 11, 2016 when she unanimously defeated Soledad Mathysse in a rematch. On April 22, 2021, the Canadian boxing ambassador lost to Erika Cruz Hernandez, current WBA champion of the division. Mrdjenovich has completed a total of 55 fights since her debut in January 2003.
Cecilia Comunales, “La Reina Uruguaya” (The Uruguayan Queen), became a reference for her country along with Chris Namus. She rose as WBA lightweight world champion, in March 2012 in Panama after defeating local Maribel Santana in the first round. She had 3 successful defenses until June 2016 when she decided to open new chapters in her life. She is a DJ, model and current boxing commentator on ESPN’s prestigious KNOCKOUT panel.
Clara Lescurat, one of the most recent champions to join the WBA family at super flyweight. She made her professional debut in April 2021, she has a total of 8 undefeated fights with 3 knockouts. She has an outstanding amateur career as part of the National Amateur Boxing Team of Argentina of which “Tuti” Bopp has also been part in the early years when the sport of women’s fists was taking its first steps in Argentina and the world.
Each one of them has a great career and their presence adds a significant value to the celebration. As 2021 is a year of health care, on July 2, when the centenary was celebrated for the WBA, it should have been celebrated by virtual connection. Finally, on December 10, the red carpet will be rolled out where the main figures that are part of the history of the noble art of fisticuffs will be honored.