A true champion is not the one who is undefeated, it’s the one who can come back even stronger and win after a loss – Cathy Brown
Cathy received her Professional Boxing License in August 1998 after six years of competing in kickboxing. She gave up her career as a Forensic Photographer with the Metropolitan Police so she could give 100% to the sport. Cathy started working as a Personal Trainer at The Third Space (www.thethirdspace.com), so she was able to train twice a day and still earn a living. She met a lot of opposition as not everybody supported her, as some in Britain, including her family, felt that a boxing ring was not the place for a woman. But, after seeing her perform, a lot of people re-evaluated their attitude and she won the hearts of some of the unsure, although her parents still did not support her career choice, but that did not dissuade her as she was determined to follow her heart. It was a difficult sales pitch for Cathy as there was only one other female Professional in the UK at the time, so all her opponents had to be shipped over from abroad, thus it was expensive for the promoters to put her on their shows. For that reason, she made an agreement with a couple of the British Boxing Promoters that she would sell enough tickets for their shows to cover her opponents and trainers purse, travel and accommodation plus give the promoter a profit. Consequently, her purses were never substantial and because companies were afraid to put their name onto female boxing, she never received any sponsorship. Therefore, she had to do a lot of ‘leg work’ selling tickets coming up to each fight whilst training and working, but she was determined to be successful in the sport that she loved.
She named herself “The Bitch” as she needed a controversial ring name so that it would catch the media’s eye. Mixed with her passion for the sport and her feminine appearance she made a big bee line to the press and did her own PR. It worked, they loved Cathy and she got a lot of TV and Media Coverage. She wanted people to recognize that women could fight, in an attempt to persuade more Boxing Promoters to put women on their shows, and still look feminine & be successful to encourage more females to enter into the sport.
Her first fight was a points win against Veerle Braspenningx from Belgium in Oct 1999, she was challenged to a re match in Veerle’s hometown for her next fight in Feb 2000, it was Cathy’s chance to be seen in Europe as it was her first fight abroad, she won by knock out, and she carried on fighting a variety of European women and started to gain respect from the boxing world. She won the WIBF European Flyweight Title in July 2000.
Unfortunately, on her sixth fight in Feb 2001 she suffered her first loss against Oksana Vasilyeva, her promoter got a last minute opponent and didn’t check her statistics, Oksana weighed in at one stone heavier than Cathy and came into the ring with a record 54 fights, she lost on points but this made Cathy even more determined to be the best. She fought on, and had some great fights, building her reputation within the boxing world. In June 2006 she went for the WIBF International Bantamweight Title against the well seasoned Alina Shaternikiova for her first 10 round fight, again unfortunately for Cathy, her trainer and promoter didn’t do their research, and Cathy found herself in front of her first southpaw, which wouldn’t have been a problem had she trained for a southpaw, it was a very close fight but she lost on points.
This was a turning point for Cathy as she realized that the two people in boxing who she thought were looking after her had let her down, so she started training with Adam Booth and became Self Managed, as she decided to look after herself in this ‘dog eat dog’ world of boxing, she had fallen in love with the sport so was even more determined to be a success. She broke her hand in the second round of her first fight under Adam against Monika Petrova, but her willpower conquered and she carried on fighting and won the fight and had to be in plaster for two months. This showed her that the new training regime, different boxing technique and strength and conditioning with Adam was making her stronger physically and mentally and a better technical boxer. Her first trainer did not agree with weights as he felt it made a boxer sluggish, however, Cathy was going from strength to strength, and now had some good knock outs on her record, she then challenged by Regina Halmich, and accepted.
This was a great mile stone in her career as Regina was undefeated in 43 fights against Cathy’s 14, and they fought for the WIBF World Flyweight Title in Germany in April 2003, this was a tough fight but she put Regina down in the third, it was a close fight and was ‘toe to toe’ for 10 rounds, but Cathy lost on points. She offered Regina a re-match, but it fell on dead ears and they would not accept.
She then fought southpaw Stephanie Bianchini for the EBU Flyweight Title in Italy in December 2003, this was Cathy’s chance to fight another southpaw, and show her skill, they fought hard over 10 rounds, finding it a relatively easy fight, but she lost on points, this was when she realized that you have to knock out an opponent in their own country to win, as watching the fight again she was adamant she had won that fight, she wanted a re-match. She wasn’t getting any fights so took a last minute offer to fight Bettina Csabi in November 2004 for the GBU Bantamweight Title in Hungary, she struggled to put on weight as she was a natural Flyweight, and only had two weeks to get ready, but she didn’t want to get ‘ring rusty’ whilst trying to get a re match with Stephanie Bianchini and took the fight, she lost on points over 10 rounds.
Cathy eventually got her wish and fought a re-match against Stephanie Bianchini for the WBC Flyweight Title in August 2005 in Italy, she was in the best condition of her life and really wanted the WBC World Title, Stephanie didn’t connect with many punches, and Cathy’s punches were landing flush, it went 10 rounds, and she was convinced she had won, but Stephanie won on points, this was her first major heartbreak with the boxing world, as she realized that the business was more corrupt than she thought. All their belongings had been stolen from the changing room during the fight, so not only had she been robbed in the ring but out of the ring as well. It nearly broke her will and she had to take some time out to regain her strength of character, but accepted she was fighting an Italian in Italy.
Adam told her in January 2006 that he had to dedicate more time to her stable mate David Haye, as he was taking up a lot of his time with training and setting up the strong promotional team ‘Hayemaker’, and couldn’t give her the training she needed, so suggested other stable mate Gary Logan to help her with her boxing training, as Gary had now retired. So she had a switch boxing trainers again.
She had been offered a WBC World light-flyweight title against Julia Sahin in Germany in April 2006, so had to adapt to trainers quickly. A week before the fight Cathy tore her left calf muscle in a sparring session and was on crutches up until the day before the fight but she truly believed she could get through the ten rounds, mixed great physiotherapy with Kevin Lidlow and positive mental thoughts plus good strapping! She had to make it down to 7stone 10 and couldn’t run or train for a week so had to wear bin bags all day of the weigh in and shadow box whilst sitting on the edge of her bed! It went 10 rounds and Salin went down in the second, it wasn’t scored as a knockdown, Cathy was throwing and landing more punches and dominated the fight because she couldn’t go backwards (as it hurt more to push off the front foot to move backwards) but again she was in Germany against a German and Salin got the decision.
Her last fight was for the BBBof C English Bantamweight Title against Juliette Winter on September 2006 over 10 rounds, Juliette had been Cathy’s sparing partner for years and Cathy struggled to put on weight, so it was a difficult fight mentally and physically, but this was a chance to become the first ever woman to win an Professional English Title in sporting history, so there was no question, she wanted to leave boxing on top. Her neural damage in her neck had become so bad, causing her left hand to be constantly numb and she had been advised medically to retire before this fight, so had made her decision that this would be her last fight; she had to have pain killers injected into her wrists before the fight as the pain was so bad. But, again she showed her strength and fought a hard fight and won on points.
The decision to retire was the second and last major heartbreak of her boxing career, and still years on from retirement finds it really difficult not being able to participate in a sport she loves, it always leaves her empty when she watches boxing as she always wishes it was her in the ring.
Over her career she fought for nine titles over three weight catergoriesand retired with the WIBF European Flyweight Title and the BBBof C English Bantamweight Title. She was ranked number 3 in the World and has been a key pioneer in women’s boxing, and an inspiration to everyone, as she showed that if you want something, go out and get it. Her mental attitude to life and her boxing career, shows you if you never to give up, you can conquer anything if you stay strong.
It’s the lack of faith that makes people afraid of meeting challenges and I always believed in myself – Muhammed Ali