espnW: Women's boxing

Flashback: Laila Ali enters ring

October, 8, 2013
Laila AliAP Photo/ Jim McKnightMuhammad Ali sat ringside when Laila Ali mader her pro debut at the Turning Stone Casino Convention Center in Verona, N.Y.

On this day in 1999, Laila Ali made her professional boxing debut with a 31-second knockout of April Fowler. The daughter of legendary boxer Muhammad Ali, Laila instantly became the face of women’s professional boxing. Some of her signature bouts included wins over Jacqui Frazier-Lyde and Christy Martin. Her final fight, in 2007, was a 56-second TKO over Gwendolyn O'Neil in South Africa. She retired as the super middleweight champion with a 24-0 record. Ali went on to serve as president of the Women’s Sports Foundation and appeared in “Dancing With The Stars.” She is married to former NFL star Curtis Conway and has two children.

Christy Martin rings in women's boxing

March, 16, 2013
Christy Martin
Jamie Squire /Allsport Christy Martin carried the torch for women's boxing until she was knocked out by Laila Ali.
On March 16, 1996, Christy Martin and Deirdre Gogarty took to the ring in a Las Vegas boxing match that was considered by many to be the birth of modern professional women’s boxing. The two staged a bloody six-round slugfest and clearly impressed the ringside fans and a worldwide pay-per-view audience, upstaging Mike Tyson’s easy win over Frank Bruno. In 2012 in London, women’s boxing made its debut, and American teenager Claressa Shields won the first middleweight gold medal in women's Olympic boxing history.