Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Lucia Rijker Cements Her Boxing Legacy

Last October 24 2009, Lucia Rijker made history as she became the first female boxer to be inducted to the World Boxing Hall of Fame. Largely unknown to people outside the boxing circuits, Lucia became popular when she played the role of Billie “The Blue Bear” opposite Maggie Fitzgerald, played by Hillary Swank, in the Clint Eastwood’s 2005 hit tragedy Million Dollar Baby.

As a child, Lucia Rijker has shown great potential for athleticism. She trained in judo at the age of six; became a member of the Dutch National Softball Team; and by 14, Rijker became the Netherlands Junior Champion in the sport of fencing.

But it was a glimpse of the fight between legendary boxers Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier that got her on the road towards boxing glory. Watching the fight at the age of seven, she made a promise to her mother that she will become a boxer, but little did she know that she will become an icon of the sport.

Lucia’s first professional bout was held in Amsterdam on June 19, 1988, where she knocked out Vivien Gonzalez of the USA in the third round of a scheduled 12-round boxing match. She then steamrolled and gathered 17 wins with no defeats, capturing the WIBF European Championship, WIBF Super Lightweight title, IBO Women's (WIBO) Junior Welterweight title, and the IFBA welterweight championship in the process.

Lucia retired undefeated, stating that there is no one good enough to give her a competitive fight. She did say that she considers one more bout - a clash with the equally talented and charismatic Laila Ali.

She now works as an actress, a boxing trainer, and a speaker and proponent for women empowerment.


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