The President of the Royal Boxing Organization (RBO) Sébastien Pitois has announced that Marianne Marston has been appointed the Coordinator of Female Boxing for the Championship Organization.
On making the announcement Pitois said, “We have spent a long time searching for the right person to head up the RBO Female Championships and believe we have found the perfect person in Ms Marston for the role.
“Whilst we are aware that Marianne is still a licensed fighter, we made the decision to move quickly to secure her for the role before she retires from the ring later this year, as we are more than aware that when she does she will be approached by other organisations due to her exceptional contacts within the sport, especially within the realm of Female Boxing.
“Our prompt actions have been proved fully justified, as within days of our agreeing terms she has already recruited an exceptional international team for the RBO Female Championships, as representatives of the Championships as well as a highly qualified Chief Medical Officer to oversee all medical matters relating to the Female Championships.
“Once the pandemic crisis is contained, we look forward to getting back to business and are incredibly excited to see how the RBO Female Championships develop under Marianne’s stewardship.”
About The Royal Boxing Organization (RBO)
Luxembourg based Championship organization, The Royal Boxing Organization (RBO), was founded in 2017 by former boxer, boxing journalist and matchmaker Sébastien Pitois.
Mr Pitois explained his background in the sport “it was my grandfather who garnered my passion for boxing, he was a close friend of former French Champion Gilbert Lavoine.
“I started boxing, initially just as an enthusiast, but then I began exploring other avenues within the sport I grew to love with a passion.
“I wrote articles on boxing as well as created a massive network of boxers, promoters and commissions, which led to myself obtaining an International Matchmakers license and matchmaking internationally.
Eventually I achieved my dream of developing a World significant Championship organization, the Royal Boxing Organization (RBO) in 2017.”
Jaques Tshikub Muvad
Thomas ‘Balboa’ Martino
About Marianne Marston – RBO Coordinator of Female Boxing
Marianne had wanted to box from a young age, to appease the lively youngster her mother took her to the local boxing gym – Norwich Lads Club – however on making enquiries on joining she was told that it’s called Lad’s club for a reason!
So with boxing out of the question, Marianne turned to fencing (foil), rather successfully and by age fifteen was seeded sixth in England (Under 16’s)
It would not be until many years later that Marianne eventually got to try some boxing, whilst recovering from an illness she went to her local LA Fitness to get fit again. She met personal trainer, Choleton Senior, who coincidently was a former boxer.
Choleton started teaching Marianne basic boxing and was impressed at her natural ability. He stepped the training up and Marianne stepped up accordingly, Choleton advised Marianne that she should find a boxing gym, as he believed she had what it takes to progress in the sport.
Following his advice Marianne joined Gleason’s London gym. She was assigned a trainer, Joe Kenwright – one of the England Amateur Boxing Team coaches.
Joe was so pleased with the ability of his charge that after one of her sparring sessions, in which Marianne sent her professional opponent (a lightweight with a 13-0 record) to the canvas twice with her lightning fast combinations, he suggested to Marianne she should look towards boxing in America, as there were so few British female professional fighters in any class that she would not be guaranteed to get fights in the UK.
In 2007, Marianne who was regularly visiting New York, Boston, LA and Philadelphia on business, had already been training at Freddie Roach’s gym in LA and Francisco Mendez’s gym in New York when she was in those cities, decided to try and find a gym in Philadelphia as she spent more time there than any other city in America.
She had made an appointment to visit Joe Hand’s gym when by complete accident she met legendary Heavyweight Champion of the World Smokin’ Joe Frazier at a coffee shop opposite her hotel.
Joe and one of his boxers, Chandler ‘Smoking Bull’ Durham, had popped in to the crowded coffee shop, where the only vacant seats were at the table Marianne was seated at. Chandler asked Marianne if she minded if they sat at the table, she of course obliged.
Polite conversation followed, but a little later the conversation moved on to boxing, to which Marianne responded that she had just started boxing, Joe asked her to shadow box, which she did. Chandler then asked her did she realise who the older gentleman was, Marianne hadn’t, even though she was a long time Smokin’ Joe fan.
Joe laughed, when she profusely apologised for not recognising him, before inviting her to try out for him at his landmark North Philadelphia gym.
A few days later Marianne made the short trip to Frazier’s gym from her Central Philly hotel, when she arrived Joe was nowhere to be seen, but his son Marvis said he was expecting her and said he’ll be taking her for the trial.
Marianne hadn’t noticed that Joe had arrived during the pad work session, that was until she heard him say from ringside ‘great hook’.
After the session had finished Joe told Marianne he was impressed by what he had seen and then asked her to join Team Frazier, adding that he wanted to personally train her as often as he could.
In October Joe told Marianne that her only being able to train with his team for 4-6 weeks every couple of months was not helping her cause and suggested she committed herself to spending 6 months in Philadelphia, so he could get her ready to turn professional.
In February 2008 Marianne made the decision to spend six months in Philadelphia, split into two three month visits, and took a lease on an apartment. Just over one month after she had done this Smokin’ Joe Frazier’s Gym was forced to close.
Marianne’s dreams were shattered as she now not only didn’t have a gym but also no management or trainers.
About a month later Marianne relocated to the James Shuler Memorial Gym in West Philadelphia, within a few weeks or so Livvy Cunningham, the wife and manager of two time IBF Cruiserweight Champion Steve ‘USS’ Cunningham invited her to join their team.
Later that year, following a sparring session with Christina Leadbeater, promoter Ivan Cohen approached Livvy Cunningham with an offer to sign Marianne and debut her early in 2009.
Pennsylvania Boxing Commissioner Greg Sirb, who was also present, was equally impressed and agreed to license Marianne, subject to her obtaining a P1 Professional Athlete Visa.
In February 2009 Marianne returned to the UK, to obtain the aforementioned visa that would enable her to fight, on the undercard of Brian Cohen’s WBC Continental Americas title fight in South Philly on the 9th May that year.
Unfortunately the American Embassy in London refused her application, mainly because she hadn’t competed in an international competition in the UK.
What followed next was a full on media campaign, initiated by a Philadelphia journalist Kerry O’Connor and supported by some of the biggest names from the City of Brotherly Love.
Within days the campaign went global, almost instantly the American Immigration service was inundated with e.mails and phone calls from tens of thousands of boxing fans, calling for them to allow Marianne to return and fight.
Needless to say, bureaucrats being what they are by nature, they refused to change their decision.
However, that wasn’t going to stop the Mr Cohen, who came up with a plan, code named ‘Team America’, with the intention of bringing over a team of Philly based boxers, comprising of Hammerin’ Hank Lundy, Daphir ‘No Fear’ Smith, Brian ‘Bionic Bull’ Cohen, Gerald ‘The Jedi’ Nobles, Eric ‘The Outlaw’ Hunter, Tim Witherspoon Jnr, Nathalie Brown and Christina Leadbeater, to take on a UK team that would include Marianne.
Supporting ‘Team America’ on this mission were some serious ‘Big Guns’ in the form of World Stars, Steve ‘USS’ Cunningham, ‘Terrible’ Tim Witherspoon, Buster Drayton, Robert ‘Bam Bam’ Hines and of course the man who ‘discovered’ and brought Marianne to America in the first place, Smokin’ Joe Frazier.
However, the British Boxing Board of Control soon put an end to that plan, by refusing to license Marianne.
On enquiries as to why they would not license someone who has support from such boxing luminaries as Joe Frazier, Steve Cunningham, Tim Witherspoon, Ivan Cohen etc, plus a twelve fight contract already, BBBofC General Secretary Robert Smith stated that ‘She just wants a license so she can go back to America, why should we license her, she’ll have to get an American one.’ Before voicing his personal beliefs – that women should remain in the “kitchen” as opposed to in the “boxing ring”.
Shortly after being refused her license, Marianne signed management papers with famed British manager and coach Johnny Eames.
Marianne moved her industry leading Women’s Boxing Classes – www.womensboxingclasses.com – to the TRAD TKO Gym, where besides offering boxing and boxing fitness classes, Marianne also developed an all female team, with most of her squad regularly competing in White Collar boxing events in London as well as one, Kimberley Leah, progressing to compete in the Amateur ranks.
Throughout a two year period Marianne appealed the BBBofC decision on numerous occasions, After the fourth appeal, Marianne decided to take an alternative route and successfully applied to another European sanctioning body in August 2011.
Finally overcoming the ridiculous levels of bureaucracy, from both the American Embassy and the British Boxing Board of Control, Marianne was finally able to fight, or was she.
Well yes and no, because the BBBofC still wouldn’t allow her to fight in the UK on an overseas license, even though various promoters and boxing luminaries had lobbied on her behalf, but this all changed in 2012, following the German Boxing Association (GBA) becoming the second European organisation, after Luxembourg Boxing Federation (LBF), to take advantage of European legislation that allows other European boxing organisations to sanction events in the UK and vice versa.
In April 2013 Marianne finally made her long awaited professional debut, against Hungarian #1 ranked Gabriella Roman, who she stopped on the 1 minute and 47 second mark of the first round.
In her second fight Marianne scored an even quicker stoppage victory, just one minute and 7 seconds of the first round, over late replacement opponent Catalina Lazar.
The World Boxing Union (WBU) European title was on the line for Marianne in her third fight, originally the contest was due to be against Bulgaria’s #1, World #26 ranked, Galina Gumliiska, a highly experienced Championship boxer – having fought for the European title twice, International title five times and also challenged for a World title previously – for the vacant WBU Europe Super Bantamweight title at York Hall on Saturday 30th November.
However, the event was forced to be rescheduled just ten days prior, following a spate of injuries and illness decimating the impressive card.
A new date was set, Saturday 1st March 2014, however two major problems occurred, the first just ten days before the event Marianne sustained an injury to her piriformis muscle during sparring with former British and European Bantamweight Champion Ian ‘Dappa’ Napa. Marianne wound down the training sessions slightly in order to give the muscle a chance to heal.
The second was far more serious, just one week before the fight Galina Gumliiska failed to get medical clearance to fight, leaving Marianne’s team once more searching for a suitable opponent, unfortunately one couldn’t be found at Super Bantamweight, so the decision was made to challenge Hana Horakova for the vacant WBU European Featherweight title.
In the fight itself Marianne dominated the first three rounds, but during the fourth the muscle injury reemerged, limiting Marianne’s movement considerably, later it was found that the piriformis had actually torn during the fight, not just pulled like previously.
After eight rounds the scorecards were read out and disappointingly for Marianne she lost the Championship battle by a close split decision. Judges scores read Ken Curtis 75-78, Seamus Dunne 76-77 (both in favour of Hana Horakova) and Billy Philips 77-76 (in favour of Marianne Marston)
Marianne missed three proposed fights in 2015, 31st May, 5th July and 2nd August, due to the injury, then in mid-August it was announced that Marianne was to challenge for the MBC International Super Bantamweight title.
On Saturday 25th October 2014, her journey continued forward, as Marianne convincingly beat Hungarian #1, European #3 and World #31 ranked Marianna Gulyas to secure her first Championship, the MBC International Super Bantamweight Title. Judges Ben Doughty (UK) and Matt Hamilton (South Africa) scored the bout 100-89 and judge Lee Murtagh (Ireland) scorecard read 99-88.
It wouldn’t be until August 2015 before Marianne was back in action once more, due to another injury (Broken Ankle).
On the 29th August 2015, at York Hall in London, Marianne faced and stopped Latvian Jekaterina Lecko in 1 Minute and 50 seconds off the second round.
Within days of that victory, Marianne was lined up to face South African former World Champion Unathi Myakeni for the vacant World Boxing Federation Bantamweight Championship on December 6th, however the bout failed to go ahead after Myakeni injured her hand.
The bout was rescheduled to March 2016, but unfortunately Myakeni was still not able to fight due to the injury. Unsuccessful attempts were made to source an alternative Championship opponent and once again the contest didn’t go ahead.
Early in April World Boxing Federation (WBFed) President Howard Goldberg contacted Marianne’s management offering the opportunity for Marianne to challenge their Super Bantamweight World Champion Gabisile Tshabalala.
After weeks of negotiations a deal was reached that would see Tshabalala traveling to the United Kingdom to defend her World crown against Marianne on July 2nd at the Arena UK in Grantham.
Immediately the announcement was made various World Championship organisations, who had been in negotiations for Marianne to challenge for their Championships, came forward and requested that the contest also be for their Championships and within a few days sure enough became a Quadruple Championship Unification Battle for the World Boxing Union (WBU), World Boxing Federation (WBFed), Women’s International Boxing Association (WIBA) and Universal Boxing Organization (UBO) Crowns.
However, this fight was also doomed to fall apart, after Tshabalala pulled out citing an injury.
Shortly after the title fight was cancelled Marianne was appointed to the board of the British & Irish Boxing Authority (BIBA) as Director of Female Boxing.
Almost a year later to the day Marianne was co-opted onto the Association of Professional Boxing Commissions (APBC) Female Boxing Committee as Vice-Chairwoman.
In April 2020 Marianne was approached by the Royal Boxing Organisation (RBO) with an offer to be their Coordinator of Female Boxing, which she accepted.
Marianne immediately assembled a top class team, comprising off;
Bena Kaloki, a Kenyan A Star Referee, Head of Ring Officials at the Kenya Professional Boxing Commission and Chairwoman of the APBC Female Boxing Committee
Willeke Carli, Secretary General of the Italian Authority of Boxing (ITAB)
Sheila Beatriz Aires da Cunha, Boxer, Board member of the Nacional e Internacional Associação de Boxe (ANIB)
Iandra Carolina Santos Do Lago, Vice President Nacional e Internacional Associação de Boxe (ANIB)
Fatima P Ovelar Martínez, Board member of Asociación Nacional de Boxeo-Paraguay (ANB-Paraguay)
Vikki Duong, Secretary General of the Vietnam Boxing Council (VBC)
Georgina Badine, London based Swiss Banker, with extensive contacts within the Professional Boxing Industry.
Barbara Seretan Gold, a Hollywood Producer who is also highly experienced administrator and well connected within the Professional Boxing Industry
Dr Angela Jones, Chief Medical Officer.