Heavyweight boxer Martha Salazar, still fighting, still going strong: Exclusive Q and A
As Sonya “The Scholar” Lamonakis (9-1-2, 1-KO) and Carlette Ewell (15-7-1, 9-KOs) get ready for their heavyweight IBO title bout this coming Saturday, August 2nd at the L.B. Scott Sports Auditorium in Philipsburg, Sint Maarten, Martha “The Shadow” Salazar (12-4, 3 KOs), long considered a “fighter’s fighter” is waiting in the wings with the hope that she can take on the winner.
Girlboxing had the opportunity to pose some questions to Martha Salazar, a former kick-boxer who took to the professional boxing ring in March of 2001. Now at 44, having had a few breaks in her career, Martha hopes to continue in the sport she loves, both as a fighter pushing to gain recognition and a shot at another title fight, and as a mentor and coach to the young amateur women of Beautiful Brawlers Boxing who are striving to become the next generation of female boxing champions.
Here’s what Martha Salazar had to say.
1. When female boxers in the heavyweight division are discussed, your name inevitably comes up. You are considered one of the most skilled in the sport and your title wins were strong showings–not to mention the very close losses. With a career that began in 2001, you’ve had a chance to see the sport change considerably — and gain legitimacy with its inclusion in the London 2012 Olympics. What are your aspirations for your career at this point?
There are three aspirations I have for my career. One, to become the WBC and the IBO world champion. The second to be in the women’s boxing hall of fame as one of the best heavyweights in the world of boxing. Third, to keep sharing the knowledge of boxing as others have shown me. I want to keep inspiring young people to reach their goals in the sport of boxing and in life.
2. Your last fight was a six-rounder against Sonya Lamanokis in April of 2013. You put on a strong showing in a fight with three-minute rounds, an almost unheard of event these days. What is your take on the controversy surrounding that bout and would you consider a rematch with two-minute rounds?
All I have to say about the controversy [of that] fight is that I train 110% for all my fights. Once I get in the ring all I am worried about is to make sure I am punching more [than] my opponent. I am not worried about how long the rounds are while I’m fighting. If I lose it is because I didn’t train hard enough or my opponent was better than me. My team and I have told Lamonakis and her camp that we would give her the rematch anytime and anyplace but always get the same answer, “No. I don’t want anything to do with Martha.”
3. One of the most intriguing aspects of female boxing is the rise of young female amateur fighters. You’ve been very involved in working with Beautiful Brawlers Boxing — Girlboxing readers would love to know more about the organization and your part in it.
Beautiful Brawlers was created to provide a stage for the young boxers to shine on. Our program consists of sparring and support for all female boxers no matter what age or experience. We mentor, coach, train and provide a safe sparring environment for any boxer who walks through that door. We accept everyone for who they are. We create an environment of empowerment and strength for the younger female boxers. Veterans and world champions such as Me, Eliza Olson, World Champ Melissa McMorrow and more teach technique and give guidance. There are also plenty of sparring opportunities. Girls come from all over California to spar with the best. It’s so much fun. Boxing brings us all together.
4. Having begun your career in martial sports as a kick boxer before debuting as a boxer in 2001 — you’ve been a professional for a long time, and while you are entering your mid-forties, current WBC boxer Alicia Ashley is still going strong at 46. Do you feel you still have it in you to continue professional boxing and if so, what can we expect from you over the coming year or so?
At 44 years old I still feel that I have it in me and continue in the sport of boxing. Expect me to have to fights one for a world title and the rematch with Sonya Lamonakis. If she wants it.
5. When you started in the sport, women were still appearing on ESPN and Showtime and on PPV — and now the drought of media opportunities for female boxers in the United States seems almost permanent. Not so in Mexico, Argentina, South Korea and Germany to name a few countries. What do you think has to happen to bring the sport back into the boxing’s mainstream in the US?
We need promoters to put more women’s fights on their shows and for us women to keep pushing as a group the movement of women boxing. PERIOD.
6. As the Olympic Games in Rio loom — giving American amateur boxers a second shot at repeating their medal winning performances, from your vantage point with Beautiful Brawlers, do you feel enough is being done to support these young athletes? What, in your view, are the things that need to happen to help further publicize and get the public behind these amazing young women?
I believe through the Beautiful Brawlers we are constantly helping girls reach their goals. We have a few National champions that trained and sparred with us before the Nationals and were successful when they competed. We have one Olympian Beautiful Brawlers Champion – Queen Underwood, when we asked her if she would participate on the show she said she wanted to take part because it was an all-female show. I believe her being the main event on our last show brought our event to a whole new level. She was a huge role model for these younger boxers. She is an incredible athlete who gives back to others. We as a group share knowledge and that philosophy: to give back so that the younger boxers get better and better, and now that is happening. We have a very good USA Boxing program for women and some train at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado. Females are now given opportunities that have never been given before. These baby steps lead into much bigger things. I do believe that Claressa Shields should have more endorsements and should be given more exposure because she won the Gold medal and she is a beautiful young lady who deserves the credit. Shows like the Beautiful Brawlers give these champions a place to shine because we match the best against the best.
7. It’s obvious that in your career, you’ve chosen to “give back” to other young people by offering your sage counsel and efforts at coaching. What do you hope for the future for yourself as you continue to play a role in the sport you love
For me, I want to fight and win a World Title. I want to legitimize the Heavy Weight Division by showing there are very skilled boxers in our division. I will always give back to the girls what boxing has given to me. Boxing has always been my passion and it will always be.
Many thanks to Martha Salazar for sharing her thoughts with us!
Video of Martha Salazar in her WBC heavyweight title bout versus Vonda Ward from February 10, 2007. Vonda Ward, at 6’6″ had a large height and reach advantage over the 5’9″ Salazar who held her own throwing a succession of excellent overhand rights, in a well fought 10-round battle. Ward won a split-decision, 93-97 x 2, 95-95. You be the judge!