”I want to be recognized as a champion and for my performances as an unbeaten champion. I think I’m different to most female boxers because I can combine being an athlete and an underwear model for Anita.”
Christina Hammer, unified WBO and WBC middleweight world champion is in her physical prime. Her imposing frame, long arms and defined torso scream high-level athlete.
The youngest ever female WBO world champion at aged 20, we find ourselves discussing her entry into the sport in general. Hammer has just returned from Detroit where she was used as a prop following Claressa ‘T-Rex’ Shields’ maiden world championship win.
Being born in Kazakhstan, owning multiple slices of the middleweight pie and remaining undefeated. It all sounds familiar doesn’t it? However, as Hammer awaits her next challenger from the comfort of her German home, Gennady Golovkin will attempt to win and claim/retain every belt in his division.
“I was just 1 year old when I came to Germany. I have one younger brother and had a good childhood. My family is always supporting me and got me into sports.”
Hammer, now aged 26, tried a variety of sports as a young teenager before settling on boxing. “My Uncles were both boxing. I got interested and ended up going with them to training. I started boxing at age 13. It was intense… but I liked the sport right from the start!”
As women’s boxing begins to gather speed here in the UK, countries such as Germany and Denmark have been cultivating their market for a longer period of time. Fighters like Cecilia Brækhus and Mikaela Laurèn have carved out careers making good money and fighting as regularly as some of their male counterparts.
Hammer sees Britain following suit and has recently sparred with European #7 Hannah Rankin during the Scots fighters trip overseas. The talent pool in which the sports female athletes float is undoubtedly far shallower. For example, the 18th ranked woman in Hammer’s division has a record of zero wins and one defeat. Eighteenth in the world.
“The womens boxing scene in UK is improving and becomes bigger because of athletes like Katie Taylor. Female boxing overall is up-and-coming and people want to see big fights like Shields against me!”
Whilst one Olympic gold medalist lingers on the early stages of an undercard, the other flourishes as a headline act. Many have criticised Eddie Hearn of Matchroom for his handling of Irish heroine Katie Taylor as she struggles to crack the big-time. Dmitry Salita, though a relative novice promotionally, has navigated his fighter to a World title in under five fights.
If anyone tuned into the Friday night broadcast featuring the headline bout pairing Nikki Adler and Claressa Shields you may remember Christina Hammer. Infact, even a casual observer at the previous days official weigh-in could have noticed her.
ShowTime placed her intelligently on both occasions. At the weigh-in? She was directly between Adler and Shields holding some sparkling belts. On fight night? Sitting ringside, flashing that infectious smile as the camera made sure to capture her presence. *made sure to build a fight.
I asked Christina how she felt about a potential clash with T-Rex? The reply was sharp and ominous,
“ I know I can beat her.”
The champion continued,
“She is a good fighter, has an aggressive style and her performance against Adler was top, but her opponent was not that strong. It didn’t impresse me that much but I’m looking forward to fighting her. I know I can beat her because I am the better boxer.”
Hammer is a very real challenge to Claressa Shields. Having spoken to head trainers who have watched the German based fighter, I was delighted to hear them pick her to win. It’s this kind of fight that womens boxing needs, rather than wants. Attracting larger viewership has always been its problem but it must be said the build-up to the potential fight has already been impressive.
Shields taunted Hammer in the ring following her victory by claiming she didn’t take her seriously because ‘it’s easy to say that, but you standin’ there in a dress!’ Hammer’s reply? ‘We will see.’
Christina Hammer has grafted to the top of the female boxing World. She’s fought at super-middleweight and middleweight in arenas from Dortmund to Ljubljana. No Olympic fast-track and no primetime television. She knows boxing, from the ground up. She has cemented her spot in the history books already, but now, she looks to upset the applecart!
There can be no doubt that Hammer will be an underdog facing off against Claressa Shields. The peofessional model posesses the experience she believes will prove the difference. An East v West of sorts for the womens boxing community which is sure to entice any left sitting on that particular fence. I asked the WBO and WBC champion what set her apart from the rest?
“I would describe me as ambitious, disciplined and determined.”
All the ingredients required when creating an outstanding fighter. We eagerly await her biggest challenge. A potentially life-changing victory. Her journey through the sport so far has shown her to be an exemplary role model. Her talking inside the squared circle has been loud and distinctive.
Scarily, she’s just getting started.
Written by Craig Scott