Little Ms. Dangerous

She wanted to be like Ali. Wrong sex. Too early.

One hopeful sign women's boxing insiders point to is new blood: Liza Mueller, Jamie Clampit, Veronica Simmons, Leaticia Robinson, to name a few. "There is a large influx of fighters who are now coming into the sport with extensive amateur backgrounds," says Fox, "and the sport's changing because of that. Those women are coming into the pro ranks with their skills honed, and they're beating some of the more established fighters."

Fox publishes on one of her Websites the fight results for every professional women's match that takes place in North America and Europe. In 1999, she recalls, two or three months' worth of bouts fit on one page. Now she can't fit a month on a single page. "I think women's boxing is getting more in demand," Fox concludes. "It's gaining momentum at a nice pace and slowly growing into a better sport."

Steve Satterwhite
Steve Satterwhite

Bonnie Canino, taking a break from classes at U.S.1 Fitness, reaches over to her computer keyboard and taps up on the monitor some grainy 60-year-old black-and-white photographs. A lone woman is standing at the edge of a stage or scaffold, stretching out an arm to a sea of people gazing up at her with those stiff old-timey expressions. "Look at Barbara Buttrick in the Forties," Canino says, a hint of awe in her voice. "She went around with the circus and stood out on a platform and challenged any woman in the audience to box. That's how they used to do it. Now I think women's boxing is on a roll. My dreams were to box in the ring and to be like Ali, but that dream never came true. I did win world titles, but it didn't come with fame and all that. Too bad I was born a little too early."

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