November 1, 1999
During the hoorah over the Oct. 9 female vs male bout in Seattle
between Margaret MacGregor and Loi Chow, promoter Bob Jarvis said he'd
been inspired by internet rumors that Women's International Boxing
Federation 139 lb champ Lucia Rijker was going to fight a man soon. Rijker
is thought by many to be the most accomplished and skilled boxer currently
in the women's game. To check the rumor, I phoned Rijker's manager, the
jovial Stan Hoffman of New York, who also manages James Tony, Don Diego
Poeder, and others. Hoffman confirmed the rumor, and explained his own
approach to matchmaking across gender barriers.
KD-- I have heard rumors that you are considering a match for Lucia Rijker
against a man.
SH--I won't lie to you. That is true.
KD--It is being considered?
KD--I understand her bout on the Tyson (vs Orlin Norris) undercard just
got scratched. What was that about?
SH--Nothing important. She was scheduled to be on two Mike Tyson pay per
view shows. This is not a pay per view. Showtime is putting it on an
alternative date. Not the same.
KD--That must be frustrating.
SH--Sure it is. But I can't argue it because that's a legitimate
KD--So what's next?
SH--Well, she's gonna fight some time in November on a Fox show to keep
her busy. And by the way, I was not overly disappointed about the 23rd of
October because in her last fight (Rijker TKO'd Diane Dutra in the third
round on August 28,'99) she got a busted eardrum and the doctor told her,
which is right, you'll probably not be able to work for eight weeks. So
it would have been only a couple of weeks of sparring at the most. We were
pushing it only because of the date that we thought would be great for
her. I had misgivings about it, and as it turns out it didn't have to
KD--Have you set a particular date for a Fox card in November?
SH--We're talking about the 14th or the 21st.
KD--So what's your general thinking about male vs female boxing?
SH--I think you're going to see more of it and it depends on how
attractive it is. And what I mean by that is, if they do the wrong kind of
shows and a guy is just beating up on a woman, just so a guy and a girl
can fight, it'll kill it. If they show better fights, unlike this one that
just occurred. And women fight legitimate males and males fight legitimate
women there's no reason why it shouldn't go further.
KD--So you don't think that there are physical differences that give males
an unfair advantage?
SH--Absolutely I do. So what I would do is look to equal the playing
KD--How would you do that?
SH--There's a lot of ways. You can give the guy larger gloves. Heavier
gloves so they're almost like sparring gloves. You can agree to a
differential in weight so that the weight evens it out. Lets say the woman
weighs ten, fifteen, twenty pounds more than her opponent. You can give
experience some kind of a play in the fight. But it's still got to be
credible. There are ways, in my opinion to do it. Hopefully once we
finish, if we ever do, going further with this same idea as we had thought
about. And are still thinking, Not only thought about, talking about. I
hope to even the playing field. Just level it off.
KD--So, a kind of handicapping process.
SH--Sure. It's like me going out to play golf with a scratch golfer. He
has to give me two hundred points, and then we start from there. That's
what exactly what I'm planning if we do this thing with Lucia.
KD--I also heard a rumor that there was once again a possibility of Lucia
fighting Christy Martin.
SH--Well, whoever told you that knows more than I do so remember who told
you that and now you know that person is not dependable.
KD--Do you have any idea of a time frame in which decisions will be made
about Lucia fighting a man?
SH--No, we're negotiating still, I have no idea.
KD--Have you got an actual opponent in mind?
SH--No. I'll be receiving tapes in the next thirty days on different
people who the guys I'm talking to would like to suggest or will be
suggesting. And I'll look at them and see if all of the things that I'm
looking for are in there.
KD--So are we talking about within the year 2000?
End of interview.
In the frequent discussions, rows and verbal brawls that surrounded the
Seattle Boy-Girl bout, many a fight guy was heard to mutter that the only
current woman boxer they could think of who might pack the skills and the
strength for genuine competition against a competent male pro is Lucia
Rijker. Having similar opinions, I'm disappointed that Hoffman plans such
a handicapping strategy for a potential male opponent for Rijker. If
that's the way such matches need to be made for one of the dominant female
boxers of the age, then Rijker's bout will be just another novelty
exhibition like MacGregor vs Chow.
I'm also reminded that there are some outstanding women in the 135 to
140 pound range where Lucia Rijker fights. Sumaya Anani, Israh Girgrah,
Tracy Byrd, and Kathy Collins would all be intriguing matchups and serious
competition for Rijker. I would rather see her fight any or all of these
women than some hand-picked patsy of the male persuasion.