Women’s boxing has only a few colorful characters and even fewer real champions. Some titleholders are doubted for the quality of their opponents, others for their lack of skills. Sometimes, both factors come into play: when you see a champion defending the belt against somebody with a 0-0-0 record, you have a legitimate doubt about the seriousness of female’s fights.
In Italy the criticism toward women’s boxing is even worse than in many other countries. A very popular journalist always talks trash about female champions and once even refused to comment on a fight, leaving the job to his sidekick. The national boxing commission (FPI) was against women’s fights for many years, forcing the girls to look for purses abroad.
When the most famous Italian kickboxer, Stefania Bianchini, decided to switch to the noble art, she had to move to Germany to get a license. This led to a lot of confusion because the girls actually fought in some shows, but there were no rules protecting them. In this big mess, some promoters with a lot of imagination invented national boxing titles for women… and everybody in the real boxing community laughed a lot. That’s why you will find differences between the fighters’ official records and the ones available on the internet. The people who compile records don’t know that the bouts not recognized by FPI were just exhibitions.
The first officially sanctioned show was held on July 21, 2001 in the small town of Umbertide, in the Umbria region. Since then, Italian girls had the opportunity to prove how much they were good in the art of fighting and got impressive results (almost unthinkable for everybody, but for them).
Among amateurs, Simona Galassi demolished all opposition from every continent building a record of 74 wins and 1 loss. She became world champion in 2001, 2002 and 2005. Her first victory was also her most important because she got it during the first edition of the women’s world championships in Scranton (PA). Galassi also won the European title three times (in 2003, 2004 and 2005).
Among professionals, Stefania Bianchini proved to be the best. Born in Milan 35 years ago, she can be considered the #1 woman fighter on the planet pound for pound. She proved it being dominant in two ring sports, having the guts to fight abroad against foreign stars and winning most times. If you don’t agree, just look at her record. As a kickboxer, she fought 47 times (44 wins, 2 losses and 1 draw) winning the WKA, ISKA, WAKO and WPKL world titles. In the sweet science, she won 11 matches and lost 2 to become European and WBC world flyweight champion. Stefania also won the WIBF European super flyweight belt, with a decision over Sengul Ozokcu in Copenhagen (Denmark) in May 4, 1999. Stefania deserves a lot of credit for the victory because Ozokcu was 10-0 and the local favorite. It was reasonable to expect a partisan verdict, but the Italian was so dominant that she got the win on all scorecards: 100-92 and 98-93 (twice).
Four years later, Bianchini won the European Boxing Union flyweight belt with a unanimous decision over Reka Krempf. The Italian’s first attempt to become world champion was against WIBF super flyweight queen Regina Halmich in Munich (Germany) on July 10, 1998. It was Bianchini’s first official boxing battle, while Halmich had a record of 24-1. It may look strange – to say the least – that a fighter with no previous experience can receive a shot at the world title, but Stefania had dominated European kickboxing rings and that’s why everybody believed that she would have been a challenge for Halmich.
As a matter of fact, Bianchini held her own.
The German was considered the winner by the three judges, but Stefania says that a draw would have been closer to the truth. In fact, she would love to get a rematch with Regina and would have no problems in traveling to Munich again. In her own words: “Regina is a great champion, but I’m sure I can beat her. I would train like never before and be at 100% the day of the fight.”
Stefania got another shot at becoming champion of the world when she faced Victoria Milo (who was 12-4) for the WIBF and GBU flyweight belts. The match took place on March 19, 2005 in Tapolca (Hungary). After 10 hard rounds, two judges gave the victory to the Hungarian. Of course, the Italian doesn’t agree: “When I heard the verdict, I felt robbed. If the match was held anywhere else, I would have been declared the winner by unanimous decision. I would face Victoria Milo tomorrow morning!”
Bianchini’s date with the world title was just postponed. On August 7, 2005 in the popular beach town of Rimini (on the Adriatic Sea Riviera), she got the opportunity to become the first-ever WBC flyweight champion against the respected British fighter Cathy Brown. It was a tough battle, but Stefania got all the scorecards in her favor: 96-95 and 96-94 (twice).
Right now, Stefania lives in Milan where she fought many times and works as a personal trainer in a trendy gym (the kind of place whose clients are mostly actors, models and millionaires). Bianchini is so popular that she is always followed by the media. National newspapers and magazines have written articles about her, TV’s “RAI Sat” broadcasts her fight,s and she is also one of the few boxers to ever get an award from the Italian Olympic Committee (CONI): on July 29, 2005 she was awarded the “Silver Medal” for her sports accomplishments.
Stefania Bianchini’s next fight is scheduled for May 12, 2006 in Rezzato (Italy). She will defend the WBC flyweight belt for the first time. Her manager still has to find the opponent, but Stefania is sure that she will be back in action: “Nobody wants to fight me. That’s the major difference between today and when I started competing in kickboxing. Ten years ago, every girl wanted tough fights to show the world who was the very best. Today, most champions want to keep their titles and fight only when they have the right opponent. Maybe it’s just a business-oriented mentality, but it could also be a general lack of courage.”
Born in Milan on November 4, 1970
Weight: 110 pounds
44 wins, 2 losses and 1 draw
WKA, ISKA, WAKO and WPKL world champion
11 wins (2 KOs) and 2 losses
Manager: Mario Loreni
July 7, 1998 – Munchen (Germany) – Lost on points to WIBF flyweight champion Regina Halmich
May 4, 1999 – Copenhagen (Denmark) – Beat Sengul Ozokcu on points for the WIBF European super flyweight title.
April 5, 2003 – Varese (Italy) – Won the vacant EBU European flyweight crown with a unanimous decision over Reka Krempf. The Italian successfully defended the belt three times against Judith Palacian, Cathy Brown and Reka Krempf.
March 19, 2005 – Tapolca (Hungary) – Lost a split decision to Victoria Milo for the WIBF and GBU world flyweight titles. The scorecards: 96-94 (Bianchini), 97-94 and 96-94 (Milo).
August 7, 2005 – Rimini (Italy) – Beat on points Cathy Brown becoming WBC world flyweight champion. It was a unanimous decision: 96-95 and 96-94 (twice).