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Thursday, 30 October 2014

From Punching Royal Typewriter Keys to Pounding Punchbags: Battlin' Barbara Buttrick, the Boxing Typist

Not the Million Dollar Baby ... tickets to her world title fight in San Antonio in 1957 sold for $1.50!
Barbara Buttrick was known as "The Mighty Atom of the Ring". She stands 4ft 11in tall and usually fought at around 98 pounds. Apart from her astonishing and pioneering boxing career, Barbara was also a Mighty Atom when it came to punching the keys on a Royal standard typewriter.
Barbara was born in Cottingham in Yorkshire in March 1930. She made her ring debut in Tommy Wood's booth at the fairground at Epsom on June 5, 1949. Later that year she travelled in the West Country with Sam McKeowen's show, issuing challenges to any girl in the crowd and giving three-round exhibitions.
In 1950 Barbara toured with Professor Boscoe's Boxing and Wresting Show in Yorkshire. She moved to London, worked by day as a typist and trained in a Mayfair gymnasium each evening.
These dainty hands broke many noses, including that of Barbara's trainer-husband Len Smith.
She married her trainer Len Smith at Holderness, Yorkshire, in 1952 and later that year the pair went to the US. In 1954, Barbara started fighting competitive bouts and on September 9 that year was one of the first two female boxers to appear in a fight broadcast on national radio. It was an eight-round bout against JoAnn Verhaegen, of Indianapolis, in Calgary, Alberta, and resulted in Barbara's only loss in 31 professional bouts (12 wins by knock-out). (She also had 50 professional wrestling bouts.). 
Boxing's "Beauty Queen" Phyliss Kruger
Barbara also fought a draw with Phyliss Kugler. In 1957 she moved to Dallas, Texas, where she and Kugler gained the state’s first boxing licenses for women. On October 8 that year a six-round world bantamweight title bout was held at the Municipal Auditorium in San Antonio. Barbara won a unanimous decision, making her the first women’s world boxing champion.
In 1988 she was the first woman president of a men’s veteran boxers' association and in 1990 she was elected to the International Boxing and Wrestling Hall of Fame. In 1993 Barbara founded and became the president of the Women's International Boxing Federation. She now lives in Miami Beach, Florida, where, after raising two daughters, she worked for many years as a bookkeeper for an engraving company. On April 14 this year, aged 84, she was elected to the initial class of the International Women’s Boxing Hall of Fame in Portland, Oregon. She was inducted on July 10 at the Hyatt Regency Pier Sixty-Six Hotel in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
 Below, Barbara has a cast made of her right first
There were once hopes of bringing Barbara to Australia to fight:
The above excerpt from:


Bill M said...

Great story Robert. Good to know the ladies were boxing way back in the 50s.

Anonymous said...

A comely Yorkshire lass! Nice story!