Who Is Cecilia Braekhus, the ‘First Lady of Boxing’?

Women’s boxing enjoys virtually none of the hype or fan-support of its male counterpart, for the simple reason that few boxing fans even know about it. Yet women’s boxing has been gaining traction in recent years, starting with the sport’s inclusion in the 2012 Summer Olympics. Since then, television networks have been steadily increasing their coverage.

Even the most casual fans of women’s boxing have become intimately acquainted with Cecilia Braekhus, who goes by the nickname of First Lady. Over the last decade, Braekhus has built a reputation as perhaps the single greatest women boxer of all time. Here we look back at her rise to fame, her biggest successes in the ring, and her massive career earnings.

Braekhus’ rise to fame

Braekhus was born in Cartagena, Colombia. When she was two years old, she was adopted by a Norwegian couple, who subsequently raised her in Bergen, Norway. By the time she was 13, she had already begun to show an unquenchable desire to fight. Eventually, she convinced her parents to let her start training at a nearby kickboxing gym.

She made the switch to boxing at the age of 21, and within a couple of years, won a silver medal at the 2004 European Championships. The following year, she returned to the competition and took home the gold medal. In 2007, Braekhus officially signed her first professional contract with German promoter Wilfried Sauerland.

One of the most dominant boxing careers of all time

Braekhus won her first professional fight against the Croatian boxer Ksenija Koprek in 2007—then, over the next 12 years, went on to win 35 more fights in a row. She captured her first title in 2009, winning the WBC World Championship in the welterweight class against Danish boxer Vinni Skovgaard. That same year, she also secured the WBA welterweight title, which had been vacant.

In 2010, while still holding the WBA and WBC titles, Braekhus successfully captured the WBO welterweight title. She continued to defend those titles for the next four years, before finally adding the final piece: the IBF welterweight title, which she won by defeating Croatian boxer Ivana Habazin in 2014.

That victory made Braekhus the first women boxer to simultaneously hold all four major world championship belts in a single weight division. In 2016, she also won the IBO welterweight title, giving her five simultaneous world championship titles. Braekhus remained undefeated until this August when she lost a majority decision to American boxer Jessica McCaskill.

Braekhus’ legacy and career earnings

At this point, Braekhus’ future in the sport is uncertain. Following her loss to McCaskill, she gave a graceful statement, congratulating her opponent and saying that:

“If this is my last fight, I can leave women’s boxing and say I was a part of this. I was a part of taking women’s boxing to this level, and that will be my biggest achievement of all.”

That quote underscores a part of Braekhus’ legacy that is just important as her undisputed dominance of the sport: her dedication to bringing more attention to women boxers. Braekhus almost single-handedly dragged women’s boxing into the spotlight. Her 2018 fight against Kali Reis was the first time a women’s boxing match had ever been broadcast on HBO.

In the process of legitimizing the sport of women’s boxing, Braekhus has managed to earn herself a comfortable living. Of course, women’s boxing only draws in a tiny fraction of what men’s boxing earns. For instance, she likely makes no more than $200,000 for participating in a title fight.

That sum is paltry compared to the $100 million that Floyd Mayweather made when he fought Conor McGregor. Nonetheless, Braekhus has managed her wealth well over the years. As of 2019, she has an estimated net worth of $2.5 million. If she decides to continue fighting in the next few years, she should boost that sum even further.

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