Michele Aboro interview

By Per Ake Persson: Michele Aboro was one of the best, if not the best, female fighters in history. She was unbeaten and looked unbeatable - then her career came to a sudden end as she was doomed "non-promotable". Being a fighter she took on the powers to be and here is her story.

Michele Aboro was born and raised in London and was always into boxing but as that wasnīt at the time allowed for females she had to do the second best, martial arts, and thai boxing..

"I began train kickboxing at the age of 16 and I became a world champ in Thai boxing. But I always liked boxing more but that was banned for women so I trained "secretly" in some London gyms. This helped my career in kickboxing as well as many of the participants had very strong legs but were weak in their punching power," says Michele. "I never had an amateur fight, neither in kickboxing or in traditional boxing."

At the age of 26 Aboro moved from London to Amsterdam. "I had won everything I could in kick boxing, thai boxing or whatever and I wanted to get into boxing. "

Eventually she did and made her pro debut in Belgium in 1995 winning on a first round knockout. She was quickly discovered by "Mr Female Boxing" Juergen Lutz, vice-president of the WIBF, and through him got more fights. "I was then sparring in Hamburg with Regina Halmich and the people from Universum saw me in action and signed me up," says Aboro.

Aboroīs career moved forward quickly and she won the WIBF European title at superbantam in 98. Female boxing was - as it is now - pretty weak with in standard and also in numbers but Michele was the exception, a genuine boxer with skills and a solid punch. This meant she had to move up and down in weights to get opponents.

"I was training in Zagreb, Croatia, with Leonard Pietraj, who I felt was far more accomplished than the German trainers in teaching boxing. Universum didnīt like it too much and I was more or less forced to train under Torsten Schmitz in Berlin."

"My best fight? I would say against Eva Jones-Young, says Michele, who beat Jones-Young to win the WIBF world superbantam title in 2000. She also beat Daisy Lang, Kelsey Jeffries, Nadia Debras and Anastasia Touktaulova.

At 21-0 (12) and at the end of 2001 Aboro had her contract terminated by Universum. "They told me I was "non-promotable". I asked them what that meant but I got no answer. "

Now a long battle began. Aboro sued Universum for breach of contract - and she sued them under the German employment laws and not in a Civil court.

"No judge wanted to touch it but I wanted to sue them to help all boxers. I do acknowledge the need for a promoter to make a profit but itīs the boxer who invest his or her time and gets his or her face punched in. With a proper employment we would have insurance and pension."

Eventually - six years later - the case was thrown out by the highest court in Germany dealing with employments, says Aboro, and they said it was thrown out as the judge just didnīt want to set a precedent. People told me to take it to the EU courts but by then I had a new life, I was out of boxing, had returned to school, I was an audio technician, traveling the world with bands so I let it go.

Micheleīs battle got a lot of support from the feminist movement and there was a documentary made about her in the Netherlands called A Knockout that got exellent reviews.

But inside boxing the Aboro case got little attention although - as she says - she was fighting for everybody. If it was a realistic fight to begin with is another question but when you look on the number of fighters who ends up down and out once their glorious careers are over you realize something needs to be done. And if we look into the number of decent but not succesful fighters who get little money out of the game but a lot of problems once itīs over you also see the need for something to be done.

Michele Aboro still resides in Amsterdam and is back in boxing as a trainer and could come next year become coach for the Chinese female boxing team.

Article posted on 26.03.2010

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