Boxing: Stabbed, shot and left for dead...but now Christy fights back

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

After a gruesome attack, the 'first lady of the ring' amazed doctors by walking again. Tonight the miracle is complete when she laces up her gloves again

She gripped the pink Glock 9mm in both hands, gently rocked as a darkening pool of blood soaked the carpet at her feet and was unconscious when the medical team scooped her out from the car.

It was 23 November last year and the crucial "golden hour" of survival was fast running out for professional boxing's first lady of the ring, Christy Martin. Medics, doctors and surgeons prodded, cut and finally stitched and cleaned her body before placing her in the twilight halo of intensive care.

But tonight, in Los Angeles, Martin returns to the ring looking for her 50th victory in a sport that sucked her in during the glory days of women's boxing about 10 years ago and then relegated her to a sideshow attraction when the novelty of women brawling wore thin.

She fought some dreadful bums, which is often overlooked when people review her prime, but won the fans over with her relentless style. She was one of the chief supporting contests on the night Mike Tyson beat Frank Bruno to reclaim the world heavyweight title at the MGM in Las Vegas in 1996 and celebrated with Tyson after the fight. Two days later it was Martin who made the cover of Sports Illustrated in America. Tyson is said to have given Don King an earful for that.

If she beats Dakota Stone, another honest and basic slugger from the now forgotten realm of the women's fight game, it will be a timely boost for a career which had been fading from public view since her fight with Muhammad Ali's daughter Laila in 2003. Martin conceded over two stone on the night and was stopped in four painful rounds. She was, however, on her feet, bleeding and swinging in front of more than 8,000 fans, when it was called off.

Martin, who was always in pink, was known as the Coalminer's Daughter, a throwback redneck bruiser who often made $250,000 for her fights in the shadow of King's great male fighters; a price tag that often angered male world champions. At her peak, Roseanne Barr carried Martin's world-title belts into the ring, while the late-night chat shows loved her honesty and her slightly battered and bruised features.

She was not cute or packaged and she applied camouflage rouge with all the subtlety of a three-year-old let loose in her mother's make-up bag. "Don't call me a pioneer," Martin told me 15 years ago in Las Vegas. "I don't fight for women – I fight for Christy Martin." She was, there is no doubt, hardcore, and with her older husband and coach, Jim, forever at her side, his outrageous toupee as skilfully plonked as Martin's wayward mascara, she was the face of serious women's boxing and he a slightly disturbing, lurking presence. He was smitten with the girl he had turned into boxing's No 1 female attraction after discovering her entering and winning Tough Women contests in the backwaters of Florida, where wandering misfits paid a few dollars to watch women punch each other. The events, by the way, still exist in big bars on lame highways and lap-dancing clubs on slow days in America's capital of sleaze.

But then Jim arrived at their marital home on the outskirts of Orlando last November and everything changed. He was 67, Martin was 42 and their marriage was in serious trouble. Martin was on the phone in the pink bedroom, laughing and happy. On the end of the line was Sherry Jo Lusk. Martin motioned for him to wait at the door until she had finished talking to her new love. This was the night that she was going to tell Jim that the marriage was over and that she was leaving him for Lusk.

She never had the chance before the most gruesome and bloody fight of Christy Martin's life began. A few hours later, hardened police detectives sealed off what they thought would be a murder scene and shook their heads in amazement at the carnage: blood was everywhere from a struggle that is estimated to have lasted more than an hour. They had never seen so much blood at a crime scene where a victim had survived.

Martin was stabbed three times, shot just under the left breast, pistol-whipped with her own pink Glock and her face and head were repeatedly smashed into a chest of drawers. However, the blood was sprayed all over the bed and walls because during the savagery, her attacker had presumably – while placed in some type of headlock – sawed through to Martin's bone on her left calf. The bullet, which was fired from close range, missed her heart by four inches and remained stuck in her back. The fight for life in Martin had begun to fade and her assailant climbed up, leaving her for dead, and went to the shower to get rid of the blood.

The noise of the shower stirred Martin from what could have been her last slumber. She tried to stand, she grabbed the gun and stumbled towards the door as the shower rumbled on just a few feet away. She also grabbed the keys to her pink Corvette but when she fell out of her front door and hit the ground she realised that she had picked up the wrong keys. She was on the drive bleeding to death and clutching the Glock when her neighbour Rick Cole found her. "Please don't let me die," she pleaded as he lifted her into his car for the drive to the hospital. She sat in silence, both fists gripping her pink gun until the safe hands of the doctors prised the weapon from her grasp and fought to save her as her lungs collapsed twice and she bled out like a gutted animal.

Martin was kept in hospital for seven days before gradually recovering enough to be taken off the critical list. Jim vanished and the police issued a missing person's report; they were looking for a bald, 67-year-old man: the toupee charade was lost for ever in the bloody struggle. He was found seven days later living in the wild. He has been charged with attempted first-degree murder and aggravated battery. His trial is scheduled to start on 3 October and, unsurprisingly, the pair are going through a divorce.

In hospital, she told the people who cared about her that she was gay. Lusk was by her side. She also decided to lose three stone, which was easy because of the blood loss and forced rehabilitation, and to fight again, which was not so easy. She had trouble walking at the time and a fight looked and sounded like fantasy. A fight in March was called off when she injured her back. The bullet, by the way, was finally removed from near her spine.

Tonight, she is second on the bill when Julio Cesar Chavez Jnr fights Sebastian Zbik for one of the world middleweight titles at the Staples Centre in Los Angeles. "I fight for a living and that is why I'm coming back," Martin said earlier this week. "It's more than a second chance at life – it's a second chance in the boxing ring. I was the cash cow for Jim. That is the only way to describe it, and when it was over, look at what happened. If something like this can happen to me, what about those shy little women out there? I will do what I can to raise awareness.

"I need boxing, it gives me the direction I was lacking. When the boxing came to an end it was hard for me – it's hard for male fighters and it was just as difficult for me to deal with the end and that is why I'm looking forward to getting back in there.

"I will knock out Dakota Stone. I've got a lot of energy right now and it will all be taken out on her.

"I just want people to say that I fought like a fighter, not like a woman fighter," said Martin.

Last November, far away from the glitz, glamour and often seedy world of boxing, she was simply a fighter and nobody will ever dispute that.

Martin's Highlights

*Born: June 1968, Bluefield, West Virginia.

*Turned pro: 9 September 1989. After two wins, a draw and a loss in first four fights, Martin spectacularly went on an eight-year, 35-fight unbeaten run.

*Stopped inside four rounds against Muhammad Ali's daughter Laila Ali for the IBA super-middleweight title in August 2003, in what was billed as the "superfight" of women's boxing.

*In last fight, won her first title, the WBC light-middleweight, by beating Dakota Stone by majority decision in September 2009.

Record: Won: 49 (31 KO), Drawn: 3, Lost: 5 (1 KO)

Oliver Yew

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Marketing & Sales Manager

£40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A reputable organisation within the leisure i...

Tradewind Recruitment: Science Teacher

£90 - £140 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: I am currently working in partnersh...

Recruitment Genius: Doctors - Dubai - High "Tax Free" Earnings

£96000 - £200000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Looking for a better earning p...

Recruitment Genius: PHP Developer

£32000 - £36000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A rapidly expanding company in ...

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee
World War Z author Max Brooks honours WW1's Harlem Hellfighters in new graphic novel

Max Brooks honours Harlem Hellfighters

The author talks about race, legacy and his Will Smith film option to Tim Walker
Why the league system no longer measures up

League system no longer measures up

Jon Coles, former head of standards at the Department of Education, used to be in charge of school performance rankings. He explains how he would reform the system
Valentine's Day cards: 5 best online card shops

Don't leave it to the petrol station: The best online card shops for Valentine's Day

Can't find a card you like on the high street? Try one of these sites for individual, personalised options, whatever your taste