WBAN is proud to announce the International Women’s Boxing Hall of Fame (IWBHF), Class of 2019.
This sixth annual induction represents a record breaking number of honorees in the history of this signal institution which has recognized and honored those individuals who have, over the history of the sport of Women’s Boxing, contributed to, advocated for and brought esteem and distinction to the sport in and out of the ring.
Included in this year’s class are seven former boxers: Terri Cruz, Melissa Fiorentino, Lisa Holewyne, Carina Moreno, Bridgett Riley, Wendy Rodriquez and Martha Salazar. The Non-Boxer category includes David Avila, Stephen Blea and Blanca Gutierrez. Pat Emerick and Patricia [Sandy] Martinez-Pino are recipients in the Pioneer Female Boxer and the Posthumous categories, respectively.
Terri Cruz compiled a 17-7-2 record, over a nine-year career (1999-2008), highlighted by winning the IFBA bantamweight crown over highly regarded Heather Percival in 2005. Cruz’s love of and dedication to the sport brought her out of retirement in 2009 to challenge top ranked Alesia Graf for WIBA Flyweight title, losing a close decision and again in 2011 for another bout with unbeaten Susie Ramadan.
Melissa Fiorentino, a 5’1″ dynamo, imbued with the appropriate sobriquet “Fury”, put up a sterling 17-2 record over a seven-year (2001-08) career during which she stepped in with the top ranked fighters in the featherweight class, including wins over Belinda Laracuente, Esther Schouten, Jaime Clampitt and Cindy Serrano. She capped her career, in January, 2008, winning the IWBF super featherweight title.
Lisa Holewyne fought to a 25-17-2 record over almost eight years (1998-2006) as a professional boxer. A common boxing dictum states, “you are what your record is” and Holewyne is exactly that. Coming to the ring after a four year stint as a pentathlete at the University of Texas, Holewyne quickly established herself as an “anyone/anywhere” lightweight boxer, fighting Sumya Anani twice (when very few ranked fighters would come within a couple of time zones of that matchup), unbeaten Mary Jo Sanders twice, splitting two fights with the formidable Sunshine Fettkether to mention only some of the top opposition Holewyne sought out during a career that should serve as a signpost for any boxer seeking to do the sport the right way.
Carina Moreno was a standout in the flyweight ranks, fighting, over her ten year career (2003-13), 203 rounds while compiling glittering 23-6 record against the best boxers in this competitive weight class. In addition to wins over Eileen Olszewski, Yessica Bopp and Holly Dunaway, she held the WBC and WIBA minimumweight titles for several years. She finished her career still competing against the best in her class, winning the WBA flyweight title against Susi Kentikian in Germany in December ’12, before losing a close decision to Kentikian seven months later in the same country.
Bridgett Riley fought in the ring, for nine years (1994-03), compiling a 15-3 record, exactly how she lived life, in perpetual motion. “Busy fighter” might be an understatement, since from the opening bell, Riley had one gear, full speed ahead. She held the IFBA bantamweight title beating Yvonne Trevino over ten rounds in February ’98 and, in possibly her most remembered bout, Riley KO’d Englishwoman, Alicia Lahsen, in June ’98, after surviving an early knockdown. It was her first defense of the IFBA title. Among Riley’s other pursuits in her active life range from martial arts champion to movie stunt person.
Wendy Rodriguez is another of the West Coast fighters who brought the female bantamweight division to the attention of the boxing public. Along with her co-2019 IWBHF inductee, Carina Moreno, Rodriquez set a standard of competitive excellence in the ring that raised the public perception and appreciation of the division. Rodriquez, in her seven year (1999-08) career put up an exemplary 19-4-3. Early on, (Oct. 2000) she fought an 8 round draw with Margaret Sidoroff and in her penultimate bout, she stepped in with Regina Halmich, (Regina was inducted into the Inaugural Class of the IWBHF in 2014) . Rodriquez finished her career on a high note, revenging an earlier loss to Holly Dunaway in the process of winning the vacant IBA minimum weight crown.
Martha Salazar competed as a professional boxer for 15 (2001-16) years, fighting 18 times and winning 13 of those bouts. It is an unfortunate reflection of the dearth of competition at the female heavyweight level. But for those athletes who posses persistence, combined with a don’t quit attitude, along with, most importantly, ring talent, the top rung of this division is attainable. Martha Salazar has those qualities in world class supply. Salazar won the WIBF heavyweight title via TKO over Pamela London in November ’04 and finished her career winning the WBC crown in a November ’14 by decision over Tanzee Daniel, before relinquishing the title via a close decision to Alejandra Jimenez in the final bout of her career in March of 2018.
David Avila is a prominent and widely followed West Coast boxing writer. His linage to the sport comes from his father who fought a number of times at the Olympic Auditorium in the 1950s. Avila began his journalism career as a writer for the LA Times in the 1990s and is currently working for the Riverside (CA) Press Enterprise and La Prensa newspapers. But, unquestionably, it is Avila’s longtime support for and advocacy of the sport of Women’s boxing and it’s athletes that has earned him this well deserved IWBHF honor.
Stephen Blea, Blea’s reputation as a boxing official has been well documented and has led him to be ranked among the finest in the sport. But it is his myriad additional contributions to the benefit to the sport and it’s athletes that makes Blea singular in the sport. He has been a coach at USA Boxing along with providing his referring and judging skill to that organization. He has coached boxing at the Denver Police department. He has managed WBC Cares for the state of Colorado and overlaid those efforts with a long time, full throated support of the sport of Women’s boxing whenever the opportunity arises.
Blanca Gutierrez is proof positive that the promotion of the sport of boxing begins with whole hearted empathy, and few promoters in the sport of Women’s boxing can match the personal connection and caring that Gutierrez brings to the sport and it’s athletes. Her father, Javier, was a professional boxer in Mexico and and Gutierrez’s interest and love for the sport came early and fervent. She is the driving force behind Beautiful Brawlers, a West Coast promotional powerhouse, that continues as a prime force behind the recent resurgence in the sport of female boxing.
David Avila and Stephen Blea are the second and third males to be inducted into the IWBHF.
PIONEER FEMALE BOXER
Pat Emerick reduces her outlook on the sport of boxing to it’s most basic, “put one foot in front of the other and be prepared.” If only getting a chance to climb through the ropes was that easy for a female in the middle of the previous century. It wasn’t. Emerick’s opportunities were essentially limited to her hometown, South Bend, IN, where, at 5’4″, 123lbs, after losing her first bout, she reeled off 18 straight wins, highlighted by a TKO win over Jo Ann Hagan in November ’54 before 4,000 fans in Council Bluffs, IA., winning the Ladies World Boxing Association Championship. Emerick becomes the second oldest living IWBHF Pioneer Boxer inductee, born five months after Year 1 honoree Barbara Buttrick.
POSTHUMOUS 2019 INDUCTEE
Patricia “Sandy” Martinez-Pino, who passed away in September of last year, was a longtime leading advocate for the sport of Women’s boxing in this country. She worked tirelessly within the sport, with the AIBA to open up opportunities for females as referees and judges and served with U S Boxing as President (Hispanic), as well as terms as Vice President and Secretary. Her untiring efforts in support of and improving conditions and opportunities for women in the sport will be well remembered and sorely missed and are best described by her co-inductee, Stephen Blea, “Sandy broke down barriers and achieved accolades no woman had achieved in this sport.”
As previously noted, the 2019 IWBHF Class of Inductees is the largest, and quite possibly, the most diverse, in the six year history of the Hall, conceived and formulated in 2014 by Sue Fox, founder and publisher of Women’s Boxing Archive Network (WBAN). Fox envisioned the Hall as a needed addition to the boxing community, a way of honoring those, in and out of the ring, upon whose athleticism, support and advocacy for the sport of Women’s Boxing continues to stand on and progress.
An induction ceremony for the 2019 inductee class is being discussed and details will be announced forthcoming.