Forgotten Legends: Lucia Rijker

By: Steve Gallegos

Women’s boxing has been out of the mainstream for some time; however during the mid to late 90’s, women’s boxing was stronger than ever. Women’s bouts were featured regularly on top boxing cards as well as all female fight cards being televised on national TV. Mia St. John, Christy Martin and Laila Ali were the faces of womens boxing; however there was another great female fighter the world never got to truly know. Her name was Lucia Rijker, also known as “The Dutch Destroyer”.

A come forward aggressive puncher with KO power in either hand, Rijker was possibly the best female fighter of her era. Growing up in the Netherlands, Rjiker trained in martial arts at the age of six, specializing in Judo and fencing before turning to kickboxing and later boxing. She made her professional boxing debut on 03/21/96 at the Grand Olympic Auditorium in Los Angeles and she scored a 1st round KO over Melinda Robinson.

Trained by the legendary Freddie Roach, Rjiker went on a whirlwind from 1996-1998, destroying opponents, mostly scoring knockouts within 5 rounds. She got a taste of national exposure on 03/23/98 when she met Mary Ann Almager at Foxwooks in Mashantucket, Connecticut. The bout was part of a huge fight card televised nationally on Fox.

She didn’t disappoint as she scored a 1st round KO. Oscar De La Hoya was a guest commentator for Fox Sports that night and complimented Rijker by saying, “Wow, I’m glad she’s not in my weight class”.

It was around this time that a feud developed between her and women’s boxing champion Christy Martin. She publicly called out Martin on several occassions and it appeared that Martin was avoiding Rjiker; therefore the fight didn’t materialize. Rijker would fight 4 more times in 1998 and 1999 before taking a break from boxing. She did claim the IBO female light welterweight championship in the process.

She would to turn to acting in which she would appear in 2002’s “Rollerball” as well as 2004’s Oscar Winning “Million Dollar Baby” starring Clint Eastwood and Hilary Swank. She returned to boxing in 2002 and went 3-0 from 2002-2004 and she finally landed the fight she always wanted, a showdown with Christy Martin.

It was the main event of a Top Rank promoted card called “Million Dollar Lady”. The bout was scheduled for 07/30/2005 at the Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas; however 10 days prior to the bout, Rijker suffered a ruptured Achilles tendon during training, causing possibly the biggest bout in women’s boxing history to be scrapped. Rjiker did consider fighting one more time in 2006 against Lalia Ali; however the fight never materialized.

She retired with a record of 17-0 with 14 KO’s. Today, Rjiker travels giving lectures and seminars encouraging others to give it their all in everything they do. She continues to stay in top shape and even helps train other fighters. She was the best female fighter of her era that didn’t get a chance to measure herself against the other great female boxers of her time. It’s unfortunate that the world never got to truly know this great female star of the “Sweet Science”.
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Comments

  1. el cholo says:

    Lucia trains 130lb champ Diana Prazak now. Great to see her passing on her extensive knowledge of the fight game.

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