Born: Sept. 4, 1933
Died: June 9, 2009
Born on September 4, 1933 in New York.
Tonawanda began boxing in the early 1970s and with sanctioned women’s bouts scarce, she spent the majority of her career in the underground female boxing circuit. Denied a professional boxing license from the New York State Athletic Commission in 1974 due to her gender, she filed a sex discrimination suit in 1975 and after a protracted legal battle that involved lawsuits by other women, the judge ruled in her favor. Along with Cat Davis and Marian Trimiar, she was among the first women to be granted a license by the NYSAC on September 19, 1978. She was the first woman boxer to compete at MSG, registering a 2nd round stoppage of Larry Rodaina in a mixed martial arts bout. The 5’9” boxer began as a middleweight but in her prime was a heavyweight and trained regularly at Gleason’s Gym and learned from such notables as Charley Goldman and Freddie Brown. “The Female Ali” sparred with Muhammad Ali at his training camp and worked as his bodyguard. Tonawanda, always enamored with the art of boxing, combined quickness and punching power. Although her record is incomplete, many sources credit her with a 35-1 (34 KOs) ledger.
Tonawanda passed away of colon cancer on June 9, 2009 at the age of 75.