The Greatest Ever Women’s Fighters

With the conclusion of Women’s History Month approaching, BOXRAW look back at the greatest ever female fighters; celebrating not only their achievements in the ring but their impact on modern culture too.

Laila Ali

Daughter of Muhammad Ali, Laila Ali, is widely regarded as one of the Greatest Ever Women’s Fighters (Image: Reuters)It’s a surname that is synonymous with boxing. Despite being the daughter of the greatest heavyweight in history, Laila Ali overcame gender stereotypes to forge her own illustrious career.

Becoming a trailblazer for women’s boxing, Ali left a lasting legacy in the ring, being crowned world champion in two divisions and finishing with an undefeated record of 24-0.

She made history and set up a more prosperous future for female fighters in 2001, when she faced Jacqui Frazier-Lyde (the daughter of Muhammad Ali’s iconic rival Joe Frazier), in what was the first-ever main event pay-per-view fight between two women.

Outside of the ring, the unbeaten American has helped to inspire and motivate young women through her work in the media and other written publications.

Ann Wolfe

Ann Wolfe remains an inspirational woman inside and out of the ring (Image: Associated Press).Regarded as the most devastating women’s fighter there’s ever been, Ann Wolfe was a destructive puncher at the height of her career.

Wolfe had to endure the loss of both her parents at a young age, as well as jail terms and a period of homelessness while looking after her own children - but she still rose to the pinnacle of her craft despite the obstacles and setbacks in her life.

World titles across three divisions simultaneously were captured by the American before a switch to coaching, where she helps oversee the next generation along with having trained a men’s world title challenger (James Kirkland).

Wolfe has also long been extremely vocal and effective in the fight against domestic abuse and child molestation, having personally stood up for victims who she has trained at her own gym.

It’s fitting that such a fierce fighter, both in boxing and in life, was cast as a fearsome Amazonian warrior in the ‘Wonder Woman’ film during her move into acting following retirement.

Katie Taylor

Katie Taylor has been a game-changer for women's boxing (Image: Barbara Flynn).A modern day pioneer for women’s boxing. Katie Taylor has already achieved greatness within the ring ropes as both an amateur and professional prize-fighter.

There may not have ever been a better overall female boxer than the Irishwoman, with her exceptional skills currently being showcased to a mainstream audience that she has helped capture.

An Olympic Gold medallist in 2012, Taylor has clinched two division world titles and reigned as undisputed lightweight queen (so far).

Having pretended to be a boy at a young age in order to be allowed to box, she has now opened the door for young girls coming into the sport and, despite her overall silverware feats, she admitted that’s what she will cherish most.

"I want girls to do even better than what I have done in my career," Taylor told the BBC. "That is what true legacy looks like."

Claressa Shields

Claressa Shields has claims to be the top of the Greatest Ever Women’s Fighters (Image: Associate Press).A dominant force in the ring, Claressa Shields has already cemented her legacy as one of the best women’s boxers in history.

A front-runner for being called the ‘GWOAT’, Shields was the first American, male or female, to ever win back-to-back Olympic Gold medals before taking over the professional ranks.

As a pro she has become the first fighter ever in the four-belt era to become a two-division undisputed champion, while reigning across three weight classes in total so far.

Fiercely driven when the gloves are off too, Shields has been a key advocate for pursuing equal pay and opportunities for female fighters; relentlessly pushing the top networks to make a change to the current structure and system.

Lucia Rijker

Lucia Rijker was a destructive champion in her prime (Image: PA).One of the most successful and famous female athletes in history, Lucia Rijker is considered by many to be the greatest ever women’s boxer.

Known as ‘The World’s Most Dangerous Woman’ during her prime years in the ring, Rijker was a kickboxing champion before taking to boxing, where she became light-welterweight world champion and ultimately retired with an unblemished record of 17-0 including 14 knockouts.

One of the first three women to ever be inducted into the Boxing Hall of Fame, outside of the sport she also makes an impact on top of her roles in movies such as ‘Million Dollar Baby’ and ‘Shadowboxers’.

Rijker remains dedicated to inspiring others through her ongoing motivational lectures and seminars, given to fellow athletes and people from all walks of life; encouraging them to become the best versions of themselves in whatever they do in their own lives.

All of these legendary fighters have played, or are continuing to play, hugely important roles in shifting the narrative and promoting women’s boxing on a global scale; while using their profile to make an impact in further causes outside of the ring.

 

Header image: Getty Images