By Sylvana Ambrosanio

06/20/13

"People think women belong in the kitchen and I’m one of those women who go to the gym then come home and whip up a four course meal at home. The disrespect I get from the promoters ignoring my talent and the meaningless checks are becoming a big problem and pushing me to my breaking point. It’s hard to watch men, with less opposition faced than myself, make more money, receive more credit, and receive more chances for stardom. Although I could do without the “star-status”, I would like to get my respect from promoters and fans of being a great women fighter."

SylvanaBoxing's own Paul Gray with Ava Knight

SA: Ava, thanks for talking to SylvanaBoxing.com. Let’s go right back to the beginning, what or who originally inspired you to enter the ring?

AK: When I started boxing, my friend Kera got me into boxing. I hadn’t learned about my dad’s former boxing career until a few years after I started. Not only that, I never watched boxing or grew up around it so it was sort of a fluke how everything happened and the natural talent just kept me sticking around the gym.

SA: So at what age did you start boxing and what role does it play in your life?

AK: I started boxing at 13 and I trained about 3 months before my first fight. I loved it, I felt so alive and it just brought a new excitement to my life. I couldn’t afford school sports and with my former coaches helping out, I was able to continue fighting. Boxing is everything to me. It’s what I think about when I wake up and when I go to sleep. I think about the technique, the opponents, and the struggle.

SA: What is it about stepping in the ring that you like so much?

AK: To me, it’s about the science. The ability to hit without being hit, skill and power. It all plays a role and you have to put them all together and it creates a beautiful thing.

SA: How do you find it being involved in a male dominated sport?

AK: It’s tough, I have a hard time with people who just won’t except it. People think women belong in the kitchen and I’m one of those women who go to the gym then come home and whip up a four course meal at home. The disrespect I get from the promoters ignoring my talent and the meaningless checks are becoming a big problem and pushing me to my breaking point. It’s hard to watch men, with less opposition faced than myself, make more money, receive more credit, and receive more chances for stardom. Although I could do without the “star-status”, I would like to get my respect from promoters and fans of being a great women fighter.

SA: I see you had to take the same fight several times as well as moving weight classes due to a lack of opponents, how frustrating was this for you?

AK: It was very frustrating. It is hard to stay at one class for a long time especially when you don’t have someone helping you make fights, like a good promoter. The opponents run out and you just have to go where the fights are. I’m not a big girl naturally, so fighting at 118 was always a challenge even though people think because of my size that it was ok. At the end of the day, I have to fight where the fighters are willing and able, or I won’t be able to fight.

SA: Do you think that the sport is now more accessible and open to female boxers?

AK: It is very accessible to women. I don’t think coaches are the ones that are turning away women, it’s the struggle to get us professional fights that is hard. I never felt that females were turned away from the sport especially now, I just feel that women are having a hard time growing in the sport.

SA: Christy Martin was the first female boxer to be shown on a PPV fight card. Do you feel that female boxing is supported strongly enough compared to male boxing and should it play a more prominent part in televised events?

AK: At that time women were boxing and showing men that we could do it too. Now that the women who were on television left, we are on our own trying to prove once again what they already have done. There have been quite a few women who have made it to television and are not helping the rest of us women get to a place where they made it. It’s a rough road, and no male boxers that have enough power are helping us.

SA: What would you say to women that are thinking about taking up the sport?

AK: Just make sure you don’t depend on boxing alone. Go to school, and have a backup plan, because unless boxing changes, financially, boxing won’t support you. Love what you do and keep boxing as long as you do. Don’t take the criticism from the negative and fight on.

SA: When you left the amateurs you had a record of 28 – 4. Was there a fight you are particularly proud of?

AK: I really have nothing significant from amateurs that I would single out. As a whole it made me the fighter I am today and I am proud of all my fights.

SA: You turned pro in 2007 with a fight against Leonie Hall, winning by way of UD. How did you find the transition from the amateurs to the pro game and were there any skills which you found translated particularly well?

AK: It wasn’t very hard for me because I felt my style fits the pro’s. I jumped up in classes in the pro’s very fast and fought a world champion in my fourth fight. No man can say that and I am proud of that. I was brought up in the game to punch with power and throw down. As a pro that is something that is good to know and learning to box also was a plus. I really have a versatile style that can change and adapt.

SA: Once you started in the pro game, have you found life easier or harder for you in terms of finding fights and progressing in the sport?

AK: Right now, having a Mexican promoter, it has been easier to get fights and have fair fights but as a whole I’d like to see the whole sport progress and I’m not seeing that yet.

SA: You have now had 15 pro fights. Is there one in particular you are proud of your performance and why?  

AK: I am proud of them all. All the girls I have fought were all good fights and fair fights. I never fought a duck or someone with a bad losing record. I am happy to say my record is legit, unlike most male fighters who are handpicked fighters for their first 20 matches.

SA: What does a typical day in training look like for you leading up to a fight?

AK: I usually get the call about 6 weeks out of the fight and I do everything the men do. I train about 5 hours a day, 5 days a week with everything else that goes into it. I spar, I do mits, I hit the bag, I run, etc. It’s all a struggle and hard work.

SA: In male boxing, a lot of attention is paid to finding a sparring partners that emulates their next opponent. Is this a luxury you have or are you limited due to the number of female boxers?

AK: I have no female sparring that I get in the gym regularly. I spar the men, and sometimes it’s not fun. I don’t get the luxury of paying sparring partners that fight like my opponents. I just get who I get. It’s hard to find small men, and even if they are 120 pounds, they still hit harder than any woman that size could hit. It’s great work, but at the end of the day, it can put a pounding on you.

SA: Can you tell us a little bit about Ava outside of the ring?

AK: I love to be in the gym and other than that, I spend most of my time with my dog. We go hiking a lot and go bike riding. I’m an outdoors girl and love nature but also love cooking and getting into health and nutrition. I like jazz and R&B music. I’m not a picky girl and pretty easy going.

SA: What would you say are your best attributes and how do you use them to best effect whilst training and in the ring?  

AV: I think I have a versatile style that can change. I just don’t fight one way which makes it harder for girls who can’t adjust. I train hard and stay in shape all the time. I don’t have to cut a lot of weight which can put a damper on your fight day.

SA: How do your family and close friends feel about you having a career in boxing?

AK: Everyone around me loves what I do and supports me. I haven’t had anyone say anything negative to me that was close.

SA: What can we expect to see next from you?

AK: No fights planned right now, but hopefully will have one after august. I want my rematch with Ana Maria Torres. I want to prove that I fought her too soon and I am not that fighter that lost that day.

SA: Do you have a message to your fans, supporters and our readers out there?

AK: Thank you for the support and thank you for following women’s boxing.