Martha Salazar was born in Jalisco Mexico and moved to the United States at 9 years old. While in college Salazar was an avid basketball player and star center for College of San Mateo. One day, after getting attacked on the street, she decided she needed to learn how to protect herself. She walked into Martial Arts Enterprises and started kickboxing classes in 1992. At 200 lbs., Martha was one of those super athletic women who commanded presence when she walked in the room. She was humble and always had a smile on her face. We met one day as I walked into the gym and I knew I was looking at someone special, unlike anyone else I knew. She was my inspiration and the inspiration to everyone in the gym.
In a time not too many coaches took women fighters seriously, more like a side show act, we met a coach who had respect for women fighters. He would start Salazar’s journey to world title status in boxing. His name is Donavas Pooler. As Pooler started training Martha, he would first break her hand sparring and her career would stop before even starting. Pooler would not give up on coaching Salazar and worked his way into finding solutions to one main problem, finding women who would be willing to fight her.
As luck would have it, he found Gina Guidi who was the first Women World Champion in the Bay Area. Guidi would take Martha Salazar under her wing and with her promoter Big Palooka Productions, would open doors for Salazar that no one else could. Salazar would have her pro debut versus Denise Callahan which was on the same card Guidi would face a tough Kelley Whaley and Irish Pat Lawler was the main event. Guidi saw what we all saw in Salazar: a true champion with a heart of gold and one hell of an uppercut. Salazar would win 5 fights in a row before she made her Las Vegas Debut and her biggest fight yet versus Vonda Ward on the under card of Roy Jones Jr WBO world title bout. Salazar took this fight with 3 days notice. Salazar would suffer her first defeat against NCAA Basketball star Ward by points. Salazar would rebound with a 1st round KO win versus Carle Presente. After that win she got her first title shot for IBA World title against Ward in Canton Ohio, where she lost by decision.
Salazar was then challenged by Pamela London to fight in Guyana for the WIBF Heavyweight title. Salazar KO’d London in the 9th round . Salazar would fight anybody anytime. She never turned down a fight. She would go on to fight and beat Marsha Valley, Kathy Rivers and Ward would call her out one last time for the IBA World title where she would lose by MD. After this fight Salazar felt slighted and robbed. Salazar fought all the heavyweights in the division. She would hang up the gloves. There was no one else to fight.
An interesting note: Salazar never turned down a fight and on June 3, 2006 Salazar would take a different challenge against Lana Stefanac , 5x Pan American Champion and Multiple world champion grappling in the first ever Professional Women’s Sanctioned MMA bout in California. Making history, Salazar lost by a guillotine chokehold.
Martha and I started the Beautiful Brawlers Boxing and all female boxing promotion that would focus on female boxers coming up. We wanted to help them have opportunities and guide them. We took them seriously and had love for our sport. So we got to work creating something very special. Salazar would never leave the gym. It was her lifestyle. She would spar, teach the girls, hit the bags and her skill level was getting even better as she got older. Six years would go by as I kept an eye out on the heavyweight division and would mention to her that there were more heavyweights than ever before. Especially a boxer who had a lot of amateur experience who said she was the best in the world. I watched Sonya Lamonakis rated number 1 and I watched Salazar in the gym. One day I asked Martha if she wanted that WBC Heavy weight belt she always dreamed about. Salazar said yes and we were on our next journey for the WBC World title strap.
First we wanted to go after number 1 to prove that with a six year lay off she was still one of the best Heavyweights in the world. Thinking Salazar was washed up, Lamonakis would take the fight in Sacramento. 6 rounds which were fought at 3 minute each. It was a shut out. Salazar won by Unanimous decision. After that fight most all of the heavyweights in USA disappeared not wanting to fight Salazar, literally trying to shut her out of any bouts. We called the WBC and put plans in motion to not only win the WBC World title belt but to become a part of the WBC Family the greatest federation in the world. With Mauricio Sulaimans blessing, they gave us the opportunity!
November 8th, 2014 at the age of 45 with a stadium full of friends and her new Coach Ed Clemens and her cut man Phil Mondello, Salazar would win the biggest fight of her career by a 10 round Unanimous Decision against a tough Tanzee Daniel and her dream to be the WBC World Heavyweight Champion was a reality.
On March 18, 2016, Salazar would travel to Mexico to fight Alejandra Jimenez and would lose the title by points. On March 14 2017 Salazar would announce retirement. Salazar’s boxing life continues as a partner in Beautiful Brawlers Boxing and is an ambassador for WBC Cares.
Written By: Blanca Gutierrez, Best Friend and Manager to Martha “the Shadow” Salazar