Amateur boxing doesn’t sell like its professional counterpart. As a matter of fact, there are no amateur champions who draw big crowds, get hired to star in commercials or are mobbed by fans in the streets. Amateur boxing is better in only one aspect: there is only one world champion in each weight division. When a fighter wins the title two or three times, he (or she) becomes the best and nobody can say a word about it.
That’s exactly the story of Simona Galassi.
This exceptionally talented Italian flyweight (110 lbs) won three consecutive world championships: 2001 in Scranton (Pennsylvania), 2002 in Antalya (Turkia) and 2005 in Podolsk (Russia). As if this wasn’t enough, she also became European champion three times: 2003 in Pecs (Hungary), 2004 in Riccione (Italy) and 2005 in Tonsberg (Norway). Her record is made of 84 wins and 1 loss. The only defeat of her career happened on April 24, 2005 during the final of the Ahmet Comert tournament in Istanbul (Turkia) against archrival Hasibe Ozer. That’s what the Italian boxing commission (FPI) wrote on its own website:
“It was one of the biggest scandals of female boxing history. The match looked like a fix from the beginning, when the jury is made of the same people who robbed another Italian boxer. This impression is confirmed at the end of the first round when Galassi dominates, but the judges score 3-2 for Ozer. In the second round Simona keeps being the aggressor while the Turk just tries to survive, but the judges score 9-5 for Ozer. The final round is very exciting, Galassi puts her opponent under siege and Ozer holds her many times waiting for the final bell. The judges score 15-6 for the local girl. This sounded even more ridiculous when Simona was given the award of best fighter of the event.”
Simona got revenge on May 14, 2005 defeating Hasibe Ozer in the final of the European championships. Galassi won again on September 29, 2005 in the first round of the world championships. Simona had also beaten Ozer on October 7, 2004 in Italy and on May 17, 2003 in Hungary. How could Simona lose against an opponent that she beat so many times? Anyway, that single loss doesn’t diminish the greatness of Simona Galassi.
She made history the very first time she participated to the world championships, with only one boxing match in her résumé! She beat Petrakova (Russia), Teuronen (Finland), Enoksson (Sweden), De La Forest (Canada) and became champion of the world. These triumphs made her the best fighter of the event and put her in the spotlight. It has to be said that Simona had years of experience in the other ring sports. She started with kickboxing and muay thai compiling a record of 24 wins, 3 losses and 3 draws. She won major titles in both styles. As a kickboxer, she became WAKO Italian champion and won the WKA European crown. In the Siamese art of fighting, Galassi won the WPKC European and world belts.
Not many girls were able to reach the top in more than one combat sport; Stefania Bianchini, Bonnie Canino and Regina Halmich come to mind. The only difference between them and Simona is that the latter woman didn’t turn professional.
It has to be said that amateur boxing in Italy is almost a professional activity. Fighters who make it to the national team, live and train at the commission’s facilities and get paid too. When they win a major tournament, they also get a prize. I don’t know how much the female fighters make, but I know that the men have a good salary and the prizes for medals are quite substantial. Of course, they complain about not making the same money of soccer players, but they make much more than the average Joe.
One thing though is for sure: amateur boxers make a lot more than the professionals of the other ring sports. That’s the main reason why kickboxing is dead in Italy. The promoters paid ridiculous purses to the titleholders and almost nothing to the guys who had to work their way up the rankings. If a kickboxer became popular in a city and 5,000 people bought the tickets to see him in action, the promoter refused to share the profits with him. What happened then? The kickboxers went abroad, tried to switch to boxing or simply left the sport. Often, the kickboxers beat up the promoters. I could tell you many stories about that…. and they would be better than any movie. The most incredible thing is that the crooks believed that they could get away with it. Maybe in Great Britan, where self-control is a religion. Not in Italy, where most people have an immediate reaction.
For a similar reason, kickboxing never got any attention from the media: the promoters called the TV networks asking to be invited in the shows, then argued with everybody and were kicked out of the studios. I remember an idiot trying to explain to a director how to use the camera. The director asked him, “How many years have you been working in this business?” The moron did answer: “I never worked as a director, I’m a kickboxing promoter. The director replied, “If you don’t have any experience in my job, shut the f-k up!” Kickboxing never made it in Italy and never will because the people who handle it are not good enough in anything.
Going back to Simona Galassi, she is one of the few boxers who could handle herself well with the media. In Italy, her victories were covered by national newspapers Il Corriere della Sera, La Gazzetta dello Sport, Il Corriere dello Sport, and Il Quotidiano Sportivo, as well as by major magazines like Specchio, Sportweek and Oggi. In America, Sports Illustrated Women published a big report of her sensational performances at the world championships organized in Scranton. Simona was often a guest on Italian television, proving that TV networks open the door to the fighters who can handle themselves in a studio. Contrary to what many kickboxing people write, Italian networks don’t have anything against ring sports. They just close the door to troublemakers.
Simona Galssi fought and won her last amateur match on June 11, 2006. In Porto Torres, on the beautiful Sardinia Island, she added a last belt to her collection winning the European Union championships. After the triumph, there was a big celebration with fireworks as Simona announced her retirement.
What will happen next? According to Simona, her body works at 34 like it did ten years ago and that gives her a reason to join the professional ranks. She still has to decide if signing with an Italian promoter or going abroad. Maybe, she will just hang up the gloves for a few months and enjoy life. Keep clicking on The Sweet Science and you will find out all the news about Simona Galassi.
Born on June 27, 1972 in Forlì (Central Italy)
Division: Flyweight (110 lbs)
WAKO Italian champion
WKA European champion
WPKC European champion
WPKC World champion
In these two ring sports, she compiled a record of 24 wins, 3 losses and 3 draws.
European Union champion
European champion in 2003-2004-2005
World champion in 2001-2002-2004