During the times her parents thought she was in her bedroom, 14-year-old Cecilia Braekhus would creep towards her window, silently climb out and shimmy down the high fire escape on the side of the house to go training. Each time she wasn’t thinking about making history. She just didn’t want her parents to find out. She wanted to immerse herself into something that caught her attention on a TV commercial. A brief 30-second spot that launched a 10-year boxing career, changed a nation’s attitude toward professional boxing and continues to make history.
Today, the Boxing Writers Association of America is proud to announce that Cecilia Braekhus, the undefeated 36-year-old Norwegian superstar, undisputed welterweight world champion and recognized by most women’s boxing experts as the No. 1 pound-for-pound female fighter in the world, is the 2017 winner of the Christy Martin Award, which is given to the BWAA Female Fighter of the Year.
Braekhus becomes the first woman to be named female Fighter of the Year in the 92-year history of the BWAA. A select group of women’s boxing experts choose Braekhus from a distinguished list of nominees that included Jessica Chavez, Naoko Fujioka, Mariana Juarez, Amanda Serrano, Claressa Shields and Katie Taylor.
In 2017, the “First Lady” successfully defended her five world titles three times, defeating world-class contenders Klara Svensson and Mikaela Lauren, as well as world super lightweight champion Erica Farias. She’s never lost a fight, with a record that currently stands at 32-0, with 9 knockouts. Braekhus is also the only undisputed champion in women’s’ boxing.
Christy Martin, who placed women’s boxing in the foreground in the 1990s, was greatly pleased that Braekhus is the first recipient of the award that bears her name.
“First, to have an award named after you is really flattering,” Martin said. “I felt I gave a lot to the sport, so I’m very grateful for this. I’m really happy that it’s Cecilia. This is someone who has put in a great body of work. She’s had great support behind her in her country, and she’s the perfect and logical choice.
“I’m honored Cecilia would ask for me to present her and meet her. She’s a great choice, she’s deserving and I’m happy it’s Cecilia—and she still has plenty of her career left.” Braekhus never met Martin in person.
“I can’t wait to meet her,” Braekhus said. “My parents are very proud now, and I’m very fortunate to have a whole country behind me.”