NORTH OLMSTED, Ohio — For several decades, Christy Martin was known for blazing a trail through the male-dominated world of boxing and was widely credited for legitimizing women’s place in the sport.
A year after she claimed the 2009 World Boxing Club’s super welterweight title, the hall of famer’s personal battles were also thrust into the limelight.
“My ex-husband shot me, stabbed me, cut me up, left me for dead,” she recalled.
Martin told News 5 her then-husband had been fueling her drug habit and abusing her at home. He would eventually be sentenced to 25 years in prison for attempted second-degree murder and Martin’s purpose would pivot to raising awareness for domestic violence.
“I just had to reach that point of rock bottom to say, ‘No, this is not who I am and I’m not taking this anymore,” she said. “But God has a plan for me. And that plan is to get out there and talk to people about domestic violence.”
The legendary boxer brought her message to women and girls at the North Olmsted Recreation Center Saturday during the Cleveland Police Athletic League’s (CLE PAL) Ladies Only Boxing Invitational.
“By making it an all-female event, we believe it empowers the young ladies,” explained Jackie Ketterer, a board member for CLE PAL.
Female boxers of all levels told News 5 they’ve found life lessons within the sport.
“I’ve got to push myself everyday, everyday,” said young boxer Gia Fultz.
Team USA boxer Morelle McCain added, “You learn if you win, you learn if you lose and you persevere and you keep going.”
Martin and her now-wife and fellow former boxer, Lisa Holewyne, were featured during the event, promoting a similar message about each person’s worth.
“The most important part of this event, my life, my career, is that I’m a winner. And these women who are here boxing today are all winners,” Martin said.
According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, abuse affects approximately 10 million men and women in the U.S. annually. A report by the United Nations found more than 500,000 women worldwide were killed by an intimate partner or family member in 2017.
“It’s not just about the bruises. Sometimes it’s isolation, it’s emotional control, it’s financial. There are so many different kinds of domestic violence,” Martin said.
She was also signing copies of her 2022 autobiography, "Fighting for Survival: My Journey through Boxing Fame, Abuse, Murder and Resurrection."
The proceeds from Saturday’s event benefited CLE PAL, which promotes healthy lifestyles and positive interactions with police officers through athletic, recreational and educational activities.
If you or someone you know is struggling with domestic violence, you can call the National Domestic Violence Helpline at 800-799-7233. You can find a list of domestic violence shelters by clicking on this link.
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