Christy Martin survives in-ring, brushes death outside ring

Christie Martin had dealt with business on the night of June 28, 1997, at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, stopping Andrea Dechon in seven rounds.

On March 16, 1996, in the second Tyson-Frank Bruno fight, the female boxing pioneer was Mike Tyson’s opening act, with a dramatic pay-per-view victory over Deidre Gogarty on the attracted the attention of the media and the public. .

The performance eclipsed Tyson’s third-round knockout of Bruno and landed Martin on the cover of Sports Illustrated.

“After the fight, I went back to my hotel room and got all these calls from the Leno Show, Good Morning America,” Martin said. “I thought someone was kidding me. Someone at Showtime told me my fight was the only thing anyone was talking about.

I know Christy Martin. I saw her land what seemed to be the hardest blow I’ve ever seen against Erika Schmidlin in the first round on Tyson Buster Mattis’ hole card.

Schmidlin leaned against the rope and Martin fired a shot that I thought would literally take Schmidlin’s head off.

Martin became part of Tyson’s expanded cast, whose promoter Don King directed the show. Kim even bought Martin a BMW after the fight with Gogarty, which Martin says she still drives today.

Tyson and Christie’s show, for all intents and purposes, ended on June 28, 1997 — 25 years ago this week, Tyson was disqualified for biting off Evander Holyfield’s ear. Tyson could never recover from the aftermath, although he continued to fight.

The crowd at MGM Grand Garden was excited for Tyson’s rematch with Holyfield. Holyfield, 25-1, stopped Tyson in 11 rounds eight months ago.

Martin made a splash early on when he knocked out DeShong in the seventh round.

Martin then took her seat – which turned out to be a poor seat – from the audience watching the main event.

“I’m sitting on the rafters,” she said. “The fans around me were asking me, ‘Christy Martin, what are you doing here? I told them ‘These are my tickets from my promoter Don King.'”

They were so far apart that Martin couldn’t figure out what was going on when she saw Holyfield jump around and dance away from Tyson. The arena became chaotic as Tyson was disqualified – twice – for biting Holyfield’s ear.

It was so crazy that Martin called her parents to ask what was going on.

“That’s what I thought I saw, but what just happened,” she asked. “They told me that Tyson bit Evander’s ear.”

There was a brawl among the crowd, and a riot shut down the casino on what was supposed to be the most lucrative night in history. Martin went back to the locker room to get her gear. She meets Kim, her promoter, who sits alone after watching his meal ticket rip his career to shreds.

“Only Don King was sitting on a metal folding chair, in the hallway, right in front of my dressing room, alone,” Martin said. “I thought, ‘Are you kidding me, I have to walk past this guy to get my bag in my locker room. What did I say to him? I don’t know. I don’t even know what I said.'”

It was an exciting time for the daughter of a coal miner from West Virginia—even on a night as bizarre as June 28, 1997.

bad time? Especially bad. terrible.

I happened to be talking to Martin about the Holyfield-Tyson bite 25th anniversary because she has an insider’s point of view – even from afar. But the chance to talk to her came from a fascinating book she co-authored with Hall of Fame boxing author Ron Borges, titled “Fighting to Survive: My Boxing Fame, Abuse, Murder” and Resurrection (Rowan and Littlefield).”

Martin lived a horrific life under the control of her manager and husband Jim Martin, which nearly ended when he shot and stabbed her and left her dead on November 23, 2010. The first chapter of her book? “Dead on the floor:”

“I could hear my husband sharpening his knife in the front room. Since he was my longtime abuser, I knew he wasn’t doing it to divide the turkey. He was doing it to divide up his wife.”

Martin would survive — running out of their house in Orlando and onto the street, where she stopped a truck driver who was taking her to the hospital — and more.

“I was sexually abused when I was 6 years old and kept it a secret for 40 years,” the book says. “I was abused in my family for twenty years, but I kept it a secret. I also kept hiding from the world that I was a lesbian locked in a fake marriage all the time.”

In 2012, Jim Martin was convicted of attempted second-degree murder and served 25 years at the Graceville Correctional Institution in Graceville, Florida.

Today, Christy Martin, 54, is married to one of her former rivals, Lisa Hollewyn (who defeated Hollewyn by unanimous decision in 2001). She’s doing some boxing training and outreach, and is working with Christy’s Champs, a nonprofit she founded, to help provide computers to young people at local gyms. She has rebuilt her life, grappling with the scars of that life every day that landed her on the cover of Sports Illustrated and nearly sent her to the grave.

“The physical stuff is the easiest part,” she says. “The spiritual thing — here we are, 12 years later — it’s still there. I asked a counselor, ‘When am I going to get over this? “The answer is I’ll never get over it. You’ll find different places to put it over time. Emotions, how he’s been treated for 20 years. But I’m doing better.”

You can hear Thom Loverro on The Kevin Sheehan Show podcast.

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