Female Boxing and Kickboxing/MMA Top US Female Boxers

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Top US Female Boxers/Kickboxers 1960-1985

Key Takeaways


In the attached spreadsheet, 'Top U.S. Female Boxers' tab is a historical list some top female boxers overall (including kick boxers) between 1960 and 1985 in the U.S. Research findings indicate that there is limited information in the public domain regarding U.S. women boxers/kick boxers between 1960 – 1985. Below is a review of the history of U.S. women's boxers and brief highlights of some findings.

History of Women Boxing/Kickboxing in the U.S.

  • A review of the history of women’s boxing in the U.S. indicates that several fighters emerged during the 1950s notably, Barbara Buttrick (had the first fight broadcast on national television in 1954), JoAnn Hagen (Verhaegen), and Phyllis Kugler. However, during this time, most U.S. states were not licensing female boxers/kick boxers to participate in the sports. The image below shows Barbara Buttrick.
  • There is little information in the public domain regarding women’s boxing during the 1960s. According to an ESPN report, women’s boxing rekindled again in the 1970s following advocacy against the states and federal governments to grant female boxers/kick boxers licenses.
  • The 1970s marked the first issuance of licenses granting women boxers a chance to compete in the sport. The various commissions tasked with running the sport also approved more than four rounds for women’s bouts.
  • 1975 through 1978 marked the official commencement of women’s boxing licensing. In 1975, Caroline Svendsen received the “first documented boxing license in the United States in the state of Nevada.” In 1976, boxer Pat Pineda became the first woman to be licensed in California, and in 1978, in New York, “three high-profile women boxers, Cathy "Cat" Davis, Jackie Tonawanda, and Marian "Lady Tyger" Trimiar receive their boxing licenses.”

Helpful Findings

Research Strategy

Extensive searches through numerous sports websites and boxing websites, including ESPN, Boxerlist.com, Boxrec.com, Women Boxing, Fightsrec.com, and a historical database -WBAN did not feature comprehensive lists of top women boxers during 1960 – 1985. The most comprehensive list featured by Women Boxing Archive Network (WBAN) dubbed, Women’s Boxing World Ratings (1977 -1986) provided much of the information in the spreadsheet. The list profiled top women boxers/kick boxers in the U.S. from 1977-86 in the following categories welterweight, lightweight, junior lightweight, featherweight, bantamweight, and flyweight. However, the list featured many vacant titles over the period, indicating that the first women boxers in the U.S. did not fight across all categories or there were no participating boxers/kick boxers in those categories over that period.

Since historical information suggests that the first woman boxer license was issued in 1975 and the ranking list provided by WBAN (a historical database) runs from 1977 through 1986, the research team concluded that during the 1960s, there was little women boxing activity in the U.S., considering no licenses had been issued. Moreover, we adopted the findings provided by the WBAN database because most of the other reports we explored in the public domain referenced the WBAN database, making it the most detailed and in-depth boxing database with historical information regarding female boxers in the U.S.

A report by The Sweet Science noted that, “While there were several top-notch female boxers in the 1970s and ‘80s including Cathy “Cat” Davis, Lady Tyger Trimiar and Jackie Tonawanda, female boxing really didn’t get traction until the 1990s.” Based on the assumptions above and information regarding the U.S. women boxing history, the research team managed to uncover a list of 12 U.S. women boxers who won titles during the period 1977 – 1986. These women boxers are included in the attached spreadsheet, along with their names, age, category, and title held and year.

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