Fighting words

Elena Reid

Elena Reid, 23, is taking the world by storm. She is the No. 1 ranked female boxer in the world for the 112- and 115-pound categories and recently appeared on ESPN Sports Center and ESPN Plays-of-the-Day. She is balancing her boxing career with an education at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, where she studies marketing. I caught her on her cell phone on the way home from training as she prepares for a July 2 bout at the Reno Events Center against Stephanie Dobbs.

Boxing is a stereotypically tough-guy sport. How does a girl who started boxing at age 15 put down dolls and ponies and decide to beat up on other girls?

Actually I didn’t quit the girl stuff. I am still very much a girly-girl. I just like the competition that comes with boxing. It’s something to work for, but my outfits are still girly, like pink skirts and stuff. All my life, people have told me, “You are the softest but toughest person I have ever met.”

Do female boxers, such as yourself, develop a following of male fans who had never shown interest in boxing before?

I don’t see it like that at all. I connect with all ages and sexes. I have kids that follow me, I have grandmothers that follow me, and yes, of course, some men. It’s mostly the girls though. I have brought a lot of girls into boxing.

What would happen to another girl, if, say, she was hitting on your boyfriend at the bar?

My boyfriend and I have a great relationship. We don’t get jealous like that. I would probably just laugh. I guess if it went overboard, like if she was getting violent, I would probably step in, but I have never been in a fight outside of boxing.

Do you fight guys too?

Oh yeah. In the gym, I rarely ever spar girls, mainly just guys. There are a lot more guys in boxing, so I can find better quality sparring with guys around my size.

What is in the future for you and female boxing?

This summer, Lucia Rijker and Christy Martin are having the first million-dollar fight for female boxers, and we sell out every card we play on, [so the future looks bright]. I have a fight in Germany next summer, and there will be an estimated nine million television viewers all over Europe. It’s so popular over there. The female boxers get more viewers than the male boxers. Overall, it’s definitely getting more popular and lucrative. Now we need the networks here to start giving us airtime. For me, things are getting really good. Last week, I was honored by the Filipino community of Phoenix, where I am from. That was a big honor, since I am half-Filipino. I am promoted by “A Ring of Their Own,” a promoter that works with female boxers. We are always trying to do more. Now we are trying to get more fights in Reno.

OK, to finish up, if you could get in the ring with one person and totally beat the crap out of them, who would it be?

That’s tough. I really don’t hate anybody. Honestly, there’s nobody in the world that I really hate that much. I guess I would have to say Saddam Hussein. He looks small enough for me to take on.