“I’m in a league of my own, I have to be that honest,” says Cecilia Brækhus of Norway, the current holder of three world championship titles in boxing who grew up in a country where boxing is banned. This weekend she fought and defeated the Serb contender, Eva Halasi, by a knockout while wearing a dress.
“Cecilia is stronger than ever, but that isn’t enough, you have to have an explosive quality. She’s become much faster,” her trainer George Bramowski told newspaper Aftenposten.
When asked whether she thought Halasi had been an easy match, Brækhus said, “I never underestimate an opponent. She came at me and connected with a couple of shots, but she turned out not to be a threat.”
Saturday’s fight took place in Herning in Denmark. Undefeated after 16 professional fights, Brækhus still wants to win the IBF title, now held by New Zealand welterweight Daniella Smith. On Sunday, though, she was simply enjoying her latest victory and receiving lots of congratulations on her mobile phone.
Competing against Halasi, Brækhus risked her World Boxing Council (WBC) and World Boxing Organization (WBO) titles in addition to the World Boxing Association (WBA) title she retained. Match promoter Hagen Döring wants to arrange a fight between Brækhus and Smith, but this will take time.
Brækhus was born in Colombia in 1981, but was adopted by Norwegian parents and raised in the Sandviken suburb of Bergen in western Norway. At 14 she began to kickbox. In 2007 she signed a professional boxing contract with German promoter Wilfried Sauerland. She now lives in Berlin.
She has won all her 16 matches, either by a straight knockout, a technical knockout or after unanimous point decisions by the judges. She has met opponents in Denmark, Germany, Belgium, Finland and Florida in the US.
Her decision to wear a dress during Saturday’s match raised some eyebrows but Brækhus said she simply wanted to mount a stunt. “Boxing can be so serious,” said Brækhus, who’s also done some modeling. “I want it to be fun, and more of a show.”
She later admitted that the dress actually wasn’t very comfortable in the ring and “not the screaming success” she had foreseen. She also has learned to tolerate the scantily clad women in bikinis who prance around the ring in high-heels, apparently to add some spice to the proceedings.
Asked whether the bikini tradition was hard for her to accept, after her upbringing in egalitarian Norway, Brækhus said she “wasn’t in boxing to cause any uproar.”
“For me it would be a downturn to do what they do, but these women are glad and proud to be ring girls,” Brækhus told Aftenposten. “We’re different.”