In the early 2000s, the major sanctioning bodies were not very involved in Women’s boxing. Many of the legendary champions held the Womens International Boxing Association (WIBA) belt, including Hall of Fame inductees and candidates (from International Hall of Fame and International Womens Hall of Fame) Laila Ali, Jacqui Frazier-Lyde, Ann Wolfe, Mary Jo Sanders, and more.
Chicago’s had it’s true firsts with that belt in 2004 when Leatitia “Baby Girl” Robinson went East and dominated unbeaten Nikki Eplion (then 12-0-2, 6 KOs) on February 28, 2004 to become WIBA Middleweight Champion.
“Baby Girl” Robinson was born in Chicago in 1980 and began boxing to survive the streets.
Amassing an unbelievable 37-1 amateur record that included 4 straight Chicago Golden Gloves tournaments and numerous national and international championships, Robinson was unstoppable.
In March of 2001, Robinson made an impressive professional debut in a 1st Round stoppage triumph over Alcheria Bell of Milwaukee in Suburban Rosemont, IL.
Robinson continued cracking away through nine opponents and capturing a lesser known International Women’s Boxing Federation (IWBF) Championship before claiming the WIBA crown.
Robinson is still tasting World Championship Gold.
On Saturday, February 8 at the Hammond Civic Center in Hammond, IN, the heavy-handed Robinson (19-1, 12 KOs) laces up the gloves again after ten years away from the ring, squaring off with 2019 WBO Light Heavyweight Challenger “Classy” Claire Hafner (4-2) of Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.
Robinson vs. Hafner will be a huge feature in the International Showdown presented by 4 Champs Promotions, in association with DiBella Entertainment, Team Empire Management, McGee House of Champions, LRP Network, and #NextGenChamp, headlined by IBF Champion Mary McGee defending her title against Deanha Hobbs.
Here is what Robinson had to say about her career thus far and her return:
How has camp been going, Champ?
“Camp has been going good. Can’t wait to get out there and fight on the 8th and have some fun and enjoy life now.”
I know you have been out in the NW Burbs for some sparring at Mango Combat Sports. Who all have you been working with, ahead of Feb 8th?
“I must say Sarah French right now. She’s awesome! I love sparring with her. She gives me all type of movement she have great hand speed and great head movement. She is always giving me angles and she’s always pivoting that I missed and she giving it all back to me. I can’t take away from no other woman but I can tell you that Sarah French is one of the best female that I ever sparred with. She’s actually the only in first female that I ever sparred with.”
Is Taylor Park Gym still the home of the Champ?
“Robert Taylor will always be the home of the champ. I love Robert Taylor!”
Who is a part of Team Robinson? How does it differ from 2000s Team Robinson?
“That’s a interesting question I pretty much have the same team – Coach Fonz, who started me off boxing, Coach Jeff, who went to Africa with me, Coach Frank, who’s a very good cut man and padman this time around. I have an excellent manager Brian Cohen, who’s been a big help and a great supporter and that’s the difference. I’m not trying to take away from my team and we can add more coach more trainers more supporters that’s fine but I only need one manager.”
What shall we expect from “Baby Girl” Robinson against Claire Hafner?
“You know I never been one to brag. I’m always fair and honest because it takes one hell of a woman to get in the ring and I think we both are hell of a women. So what you can expect this… I am going to let my hands do the talking and then we can do a interview after.”
What is your career resurgence goals heading into 2020?
“To be recognized for one of the best female fighters to ever come out of Chicago and still is more females coming after me but that’s one of my goals to be recognized as a good female professional fighter.”
What has been your personal career highlight thus far?
“Becoming the youngest female in the state of Illinois to win the World title at the age of 21.”
I hear that you have a history of beating “the shit” out of male sparring partners. What’s the truth on that?
“(Keeping very modest) You know I like to keep my sparring private. I have a lot of men partners that I spar with and they are awesome. Louis Turner to name just one, so I won’t be saying I beat my sparring partners up. I’m going to say they give me one hell of a challenge, when I’m sparring with them.”
Is there someone you would have liked to face back in the 2000s?
“Absolutely but February 8th is my comeback so I am going to let my hands do the talking in that fight and then I can discuss more and talk more after that.”
Is there someone you are targeting in the 2020s?
“I got a couple of names but I’m not going to talk. I am going to let my manager Brian do that for me.”
Chicago and Chicagoland Area is getting major attention in boxing, especially women’s boxing. You are the first world champion of Chicago. How is that feeling, coming back into the sport today?
“Wow! It feels amazing! I feel like coming back into this sport I have some unfinished business and it’s a lot of futures that’s coming behind me I’m not just boxing for me now I’m boxing for the up-and-coming Futures that’s coming behind me we have some very talented women here in Chicago that I think it’s not getting the right recognition so I’m here to help bring that out me coming back into the sport was my decision I made because I left some doors close that I should have opened so now I’m here to open the doors that I left close”
Any last words for family, friends, sponsors, supporters?
“I like to thank my team, especially my manager Brian for staying in contact with me throughout that time. He kept encouraging me to come back but I took my time and coming back. Having him behind me telling me that the sky’s the limit, ‘You’re not done! That was one of the reasons that I came back.”
We are ecstatic to have you back and excited to see what the future hold for “Baby Girl” Robinson.
At this History in the Making Event, Doors Open at 4:00 pm. Preshow starts at 5:00 with First Bell at 6:00 pm. Hammond Civic Center – 5825 Sohl Ave, Hammond, IN 46320