Women’s boxing has come a long way in its decades-old quest for legitimacy.
Once derided as a sideshow to men’s pugilism, it’s since been adopted by the International Olympic Committee, major promoters, and even pay-per-view audiences. And with 2022’s Katie Taylor-Amanda Serrano main event in New York, women’s boxing finally headlined a fight card at the sport’s mecca, Madison Square Garden.
But now, with the rise of influencer boxing – a circus-like niche within the sport that features social media celebrities and even adult film stars – female fighters are once again battling for legitimacy. The trend has already resulted in a pair of opponents performatively making out at a pre-fight weigh-in, not to mention one OnlyFans model flashing her breasts after a recent victory.
‘Wow,’ tweeted two-time Olympic gold medalist and undisputed middleweight champion, Claressa Shields. ‘This is a step backwards for women’s boxing. Stop this s***.’
With that controversy still smoldering, DailyMail.com looks at the biggest scandals that have rocked women’s boxing – a sport that continues to face sexism in its ongoing mission for mainstream acceptance.
Daniella Hemsley (pictured) flashed her breasts after a recent Kingpyn Boxing bout
Undisputed middleweight champion Claressa Shields wasn’t happy with Hemsley’s actions
ONLY FANS BOXER DANIELLA HEMSLEY FLASHES, GETS BANNED
OnlyFans boxer Daniella Hemsley was banned from competing in the upcoming Kingpyn Boxing final after she flashed the crowd on live TV following her victory last Saturday night.
The 22-year-old model outpointed rival Aleksandra Danielka in the loser’s bracket of the Kingpyn High Stakes tournament in Dublin before deciding to celebrate in X-rated fashion by lifting up her sports bra to expose her breasts.
Kingpyn has since announced that Hemsley will not be competing in the final show, which is expected to be held at The O2 arena in September.
‘As we strive to bring fans the best influencer boxing events possible, we accept that Saturday’s post fight incident may have offended some viewers and we appreciate that this incident didn’t meet the standards expected from Kingpyn fight nights,’ a statement from the promotion read.
‘We apologize fully to anyone upset from the broadcast. The fighter involved in the incident will not be appearing in the final event and has decided to take some time away from boxing.
‘We will now be turning our attention to the Kingpyn finals, with all of us more determined than ever to hold the greatest night of influencer boxing and showcase the very best sport we all love.’
Kingpyn Boxing apologized for Hemsley’s actions and said she won’t be in the final show
Hemsley, who claims she got approval from the promoter to pull off the X-rated stunt, addressed the situation on Thursday via a YouTube video.
‘I hope you’ve really enjoyed this weekend’s antics,’ said Hemsley.
‘You’ve enjoyed my win – my first win – and I really hope you enjoyed the celebration after.’
The social media star then went on to explain that she had attached tassels onto her nipples, but they had both come off during the bout, and she was surprised by what happened when she lifted up her top.
Hemsley also insisted that she is not banned from the Kingpyn promotion, explaining that she is just ‘taking a break.’
Cherneka Johnson, left, turned up topless in body paint for her weigh-in on Friday afternoon
CHERNEKA JOHNSON GOES TOPLESS AT WEIGH-IN
Cherneka Johnson isn’t an OnlyFans model, but an actual boxer instead.
Still, that didn’t stop the New Zealand native from appearing effectively topless at a weigh-in back in June.
Johnson sported a body-paint ‘sports bra’ before her IBF super bantamweight title against Ellie Scotney, making promoter Eddie Hearn visibly uncomfortable during the proceedings. An ‘OnlyFans’ ad was conspicuously placed on her chest.
Although she wasn’t punished for the stunt, Johnson still lost a unanimous decision.
WHITNEY JOHNS AND AMBER O’DONNELL KISS DURING WEIGH-IN
Social media influencers Whitney Johns and Amber O’Donnell made audiences all but forget about their impending bout earlier this month, when they began kissing during a weigh-in for the fight.
At the weigh in, Johns appeared to tease kissing O’Donnell as they faced off, leading the English fighter saying: ‘If you’re going to do it, do it properly’.
O’Donnell then grabbed Johns, 32, and pulled her in for a proper kiss – with a surprised crowd eventually cheering, before Johns stepped back laughing.
And it was Johns who had the last laugh in the fight itself, beating O’Donnell, 25, for her first win in the ring in her second fight.
After her victory over the weekend, Johns said: ‘This win means more to me than you can know. Amber has been an amazing opponent the whole way through.’
OnlyFans boxer Amber O’Donnell kissed her rival fighter, American model Whitney Johns before their fight over the weekend – it was Johns who later emerged victorious in the ring
EBANIE BRIDGES FLASHES BREASTS DURING INTERVIEW
Ebanie Bridges left a reporter shocked by lifting her shirt and flashing her chest during an interview about her controversial weigh-in outfit last December.
Bridges, the IBF bantamweight belt holder, was stopped by media ahead of a bout against Shannon O’Connell.
A reporter from Boxing King Media asked the Blonde Bomber to explain her outfit, to which Bridges replied, ‘Well what do you mean explain my weigh-in outfit?’
The reporter then replied, ‘What is it?’ and Bridges lifted up her shirt.
‘It’s like lace, has my handle, subscribe now,’ Bridges said. ‘I don’t know, what is it? It’s sexy, isn’t it?’
Bridges launched an OnlyFans account before the fight with O’Connell, promising fans raunchy content that couldn’t be found anywhere else.
Glamorous MMA fighter Paige VanZant is believed to rake in more than $2Million a year from her OnlyFans account, and Bridges could potentially do the same.
The world champ revealed earlier in the year that she makes a small fortune from selling her sweaty socks, training gear and photos of her feet. Fans even pay to be humiliated and insulted by her.
‘It’s pretty much calling guys losers and they give me money,’ Bridges explained on the Diren Kartal YouTube channel.
World champion Aussie boxer Ebanie Bridges (pictured) left a reporter shocked by lifting her shirt and flashing her chest during an interview about her controversial weigh-in outfit
USANAKORN KOKIETGYM’S TESTESTERONE RAISES QUESTIONS
Thailand Usanakorn Kokietgym was detected with three times the normal level of testosterone for a woman before a 2012, raising questions about potential steroid use and her gender.
Kokietgym denied using steroids with reporters, but refused comprehensive blood testing that would have proven her gender.
Despite her perceived advantage over Susie Ramadan, Kokietgym still lost the 10-round bout by unanimous decision.
However, she continues to fight and recently beat Thailand’s Putchita Klahan by TKO.
ALGERIA’S IMANE KHELIF IS DISQUALIFIED OVER TESTOSTERONE
Algeria’s Imane Khelif was disqualified hours before a gold medal bout at the women’s world championships over medical issues, reportedly related to her testosterone.
She was ultimately replaced in the tournament by Thailand’s Janjaem Suwannapheng, whom Khelif beat in the semifinals.
‘A boxer from Algeria Imane Khelif was excluded from the IBA World Boxing Championships due to the failure to meet the IBA eligibility criteria,’ the governing body said in a statement.
‘The IBA upholds its rules and regulations as well as its athletes’ personal and medical privacy, the eligibility criteria breach therefore cannot be shared by the IBA.’
Algeria’s Imane Khelif was disqualified hours before a gold medal bout at the women’s world championships over medical issues, reportedly related to her testosterone level
The Algerian Olympic Committee said Khelif was disqualified for ‘medical reasons’ and that it would support her preparation for the African qualification tournament for next year’s Paris Olympics.
Algerian media reported Khelif was disqualified for high level of testosterone in her system.
‘There are some countries that did not want Algeria to win a gold medal,’ the boxer told Algerian Ennahar TV.
‘This is a conspiracy and a big conspiracy, and we will not be silent about it.’
CINDY SERRANO AND HUSBAND CAUGHT IN STEROID SCANDAL
Amanda Serrano’s older sister, Cindy, and her husband Jordan Maldonado were among two dozen arrested in 2007 in an undercover investigation of two gyms suspected of peddling steroids.
‘Far from being healthy environments for the body and the mind, the gyms were allegedly turned into drug supermarkets of the many defendants who openly and illegally sold performance drugs,’ district attorney Richard Brown said at a news conference.
Cindy, now 41, avoided prison, but Maldonado wasn’t so lucky and was sentenced to more than two years behind bars.
Amanda was not linked to the controversy, but Maldonado remains her manager.
Cindy left boxing after her 2018 loss to Taylor.
Cindy Serrano (left) and her husband Jordan Maldonado (right) were among two dozen arrested in 2007 in an undercover investigation of two gyms suspected of peddling steroids
MIA ST. JOHN ADMITS TO STEROID USE, IMPLICATES OTHERS
Mia St. John, the Californian boxer who skyrocketed to fame in the late 1990s before becoming a Playboy model, admitted in a 2018 interview to using steroids during her career.
The 49-14-2 fighter also claimed PED use within the sport was widespread.
‘I hate it when other fighters put down other fighters for something we all know is rampant in boxing,’ St. John told The Los Angeles Times. ‘I never once tested positive, and I’ve never told anyone this, but now that I’m retired I feel like it’s OK.
‘It’s not right, but what I’m trying to say is that it’s a vicious cycle we get caught up in. You’re in a gym. You’re in a big camp. Obviously, I was part of the biggest shows of my time.
‘So when your camp is doing it, it’s going around the gym, your sparring partners are doing it, you feel compelled — ‘Oh my God, I have to do it’ — to keep up with everybody. It’s a mind trick. And once you’re on it, it’s so hard to come off because it becomes very addicting. That’s what people don’t know. I’m not going to say what fights [I used] because then people can trace back to what cards I was on, what camp I was in, who I was training with … I would never out anybody.’
Mia St. John skyrocketed to fame in the late 1990s before later admitting to steroid use
While not ‘every’ fighter is using, St. John made it clear that steroid use was common among female boxers.
‘I saw so much of it in my career and I don’t mind coming out with this now because it’s a serious issue that our sport needs to address,’ St. John continued.
‘I was tested many times. There’s many methods to get around it. Just because you didn’t get caught doesn’t mean you weren’t doing it. It just meant you didn’t get caught. I did my homework.
‘They gave us a whole list of what not to do and I knew a lot of stuff I was doing was on that list. I did everything I could to mask it — masking drugs, catheters with other people’s urine — and then the rest is up to luck.’