BT: Ann thanks for the opportunity to do this interview. You’re on a long layoff now, and haven’t been in the ring since August 2005. We’ll get into the reasons for that later in the interview, but how is your status now?
How are you feeling and have you been back to boxing workouts yet? "Yeah, I’ve been back in the gym. I just had surgery in January, so I’ve been working back slowly since that."BT: You are scheduled to next fight April 29th, at Coushatta Casino in Kinder, LA. Do you have an opponent yet, what weight, any title on the line?
AW: No, no title on the line. We’re facing Brenda Drexel, who’s had about 30 fights, and I’ll be at 165lbs.BT: Among boxing fans, you’re pretty much recognized as the number one pound-for-pound female boxer in the world. Do you agree with that assessment?
AW: No, I don’t agree with that, because…I’m modest I guess. (Laughs)BT: Is there any fighter out there who represents a threat to you in the ring?
AW: You know, someone could always bring it to you. I think that’s why I’m as good as I am because I watch out for everybody.BT: Who do you want to fight?
AW: I’ll fight any female out there. I want to fight Laila, Letitia Robinson, anyone between 154 and 200. I don’t really call out names though, because when a REAL predator wants to eat, they don’t look for a particular prey. I’ll fight anybody; I don’t have a certain person to fight. On April 29th, I’m treating it the same as if it were Laila Ali.BT: Why hasn’t a fight with Laila Ali ever happened? Is it boxing economics? Do you think she’s scared of you?
AW: I don’t know why. But I know I’ve signed three different contracts to fight her and I’ve been ready to fight, and it just never came about, I don’t know what it is. But I’ll guarantee you this; Laila ain’t too willing to get in the ring with me.BT: How old are you? How many more fights do you see for yourself?
AW: I’m 35. I think about 5 more fights. I’m such, I stay in the gym, I don’t drink or smoke, and my body’s young. But if it ever seems I’m getting too old, then I’ll just quit, but I think I’m a young 35. BT: Are you still interested in fighting a man? Why were you going to before?
AW: Not really. I’ve come to the conclusion that if I can’t get the fight with Laila, then I’m just gonna take what God gave me and walk away with it. I spent 10 years of my life in boxing, and realize I don’t take off between fights, I’m always in the gym. Mainly I was going to do it for the money. It’s because if Laila won’t fight me then there goes my only big payday. Realize that I’ve won 8 world titles, and I haven’t made $50K in total. I’m still making two thousand and five thousand dollar purses. It’s pitiful. BT: You came up from very modest beginnings. Can you describe that to us; tell us where you came from and what boxing means to you?
AW: You know for a lot people, boxing is boxing. For me boxing represents fighting, boxing is surviving. Besides taking care of my children, boxing is the longest thing I’ve ever stuck to, tried to do, and done successfully. Boxing keeps me calm, and it keeps me where I can even hold this conversation. Because before, Laila nor anybody else would want to see me, because I was a natural predator, I didn’t care about anybody. I would crush you on sight. I would destroy you. Boxing allowed me to become a person, to be so calm whereas I could hold this conversation. I wasn’t a person before I stared boxing. I was an animal. Both of my parents had died, and I was homeless. I was just trying to survive. But with boxing, I can get on the heavy bag and hit it to let it out of me. Believe it or not, in the gym I even have a mattress inside the ring. I just lie on the mattress and think about everything. Boxing allows me to stop and be calm and think. So besides the money, people can’t believe it, but boxing literally saved my life. So that’s what I do now with some of the other kids that come in here; armed robbery or drug dealers, for example, I show them how boxing can help them, how therapeutic it is, how it can help them, how it can change their aggression. And it’s helped a lot of people. I was homicidal, I was just out there bad like that, and boxing just trained me to how you see me now. I’m the most mild-mannered person you’ll ever meet. BT: You’re now having success as a trainer, with a good group of amateur kids and a couple of pros. Tell us about your pro fighters.
AW: Yes, I have about 25 amateurs; I get them off of the street. My pros, I have James Kirkland and Curtis Meeks. When I first came to the gym, they were like 10 years old, so I watched them grow. I’ve also watched them get in trouble, and been like a boxing parent to them. Both of them have such potential, that if they could just stay calm, outside the ring, and let life take it’s course, then they’ll be world champions. Especially James, something about him, he reminds me of myself a lot. He feels like I feel. When we all come to the gym, we’re all the same. It’s a seek and destroy mentality, cuz we’re tryin to come up out of this poverty, tryin to eat, just tryin to survive, to get out of the streets. If it wouldn’t be for Pops (Ann’s trainer), none of us would have anything. James Kirkland, he comes from NOTHING. All he is is his momma. Just barely making it, barely surviving. And still to this day, if one of us has $20, we divide it, or we see if one us needs something. When you got that hunger, it’s something that a lot of people who’ve always had, don’t understand, you’re just basically trying to survive. And Kirkland is like me when it comes down to it, because I’ve told him, “when you get in that ring, you have to CRUSH whoever is there, don’t care if they’re a world champion. That’s why when I look at my opponent; they shouldn’t care if I’m a world champion. I tell them it don’t matter if they’re a world champion or not, they’ll beat you. You try to DEVOUR them. So I teach them don’t ever take no prisoners. None, none, ever. No mercy. In the ring, I have NO MERCY AT ALL for anybody. I’m trying to do some evilness to you when I’m in that ring! It’s the hurting game. You know, I go back and watch all the old fighters. I watch their personalities, and see how they work. Sugar Ray Robinson killed a man in the ring, and they asked him, “couldn’t you tell that this man was in trouble?” And he said, “it’s my job to get men in trouble.” These newer fighters want to be playin around. Back then if you didn’t box, for a lot of them, you didn’t eat! BT: You are recovering from a serious injury that happened in an auto accident. Tell us what happened, what did you injure, how has healing gone and how far are you in recovery
AW: I got hit by another SUV going 70 mph, and it was bad. The doctor had to cut some of my bone out of my arm. So for this fight, I’m having to train harder than I usually train, but I’m going to still be in a lot of pain. So I don’t know.. I’m going to see how I do, during training and in this fight. And that’s going to determine whether I continue to box, because I’m not going to box at half-speed. I’ll be going into this fight at less than 100% of what I was, because I had a right hand that could drop a man. BT: WHEW! Want to close with a message to boxing fans?
AW: I just want to say to the fans, AND TO THE BOXERS, that the fans are what makes champions. If we don’t have fans, and we’re losing a lot of boxing fans, we’ll be nothing. Every boxer needs to sign autographs and be nice to the people, because the fans are what makes boxing big. They are the ones who’ve made me who I am! They are more important than anything else because they are the ones who pay their money to see us. And that’s what’s going to make boxing bigger, is more fans. BT: I certainly endorse that! Ann, it’s been a pleasure meeting and talking with you, and I thank you for your candidness in your answers. We look forward to seeing you and covering your fight at Coushatta on April 29th.