Holly Holm credits team, family during induction - Albuquerque Journal

Holly Holm credits team, family during induction

Holly Holm poses during a ceremonial weigh-in for the UFC 246 mixed martial arts bout on Jan. 17, 2020, in Las Vegas. Holm was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame on Sunday.
(AP File Photo/John Locher)

VERONA, N.Y. — Albuquerque’s Holly Holm showed emotion when she talked about her team, the loyalty of her manager/promoter Lenny Fresquez and coach Mike Winklejohn during her induction speech into the International Boxing Hall of Fame on Sunday.

She said that she was blessed to have the same coach, manager and promoter her whole career, including boxing and MMA.

“You want to talk about loyalty, that’s as deep as you can get,” Holm said. “I’m so thankful. I don’t feel like this award is just for me. It’s a group effort, especially being a female.”

She then thanked Fresquez for providing so many opportunities, and she teared up a bit when she spoke about Winklejohn.

“No matter what I did, he believed, and it was from the get-go,” she said. “And I’ll tell you what, there’s a lot of people out here in this sport, as we all know, between managers and promoters, coaches, they’re in it for their own glory a lot of times. I’ll tell you right now, I’ve been surrounded by people who have wanted the best for me. Very selfless love and support I’ve had.”

Holm, 40, began her combat-sports career as a kick-boxer circa 2000 under the tutelage of Winkeljohn. She made her pro boxing debut, never having had an amateur bout, in January 2002. She went on to post a career record of 33-2-3 with nine knockouts and too many titles to count.

Holm made her MMA debut in March 2011.

In November 2015, in one of the UFC’s most spectacular upsets, she defeated Ronda Rousey for that organization’s bantamweight title. Though she lost the belt to Miesha Tate in her first defense, she remains a top contender – the No. 3 challenger – in the UFC’s 135-pound weight class.

Holm joins fellow Albuquerqueans Bob Foster and Johnny Tapia in the International Boxing Hall of Fame. Foster, a longtime light heavyweight world champion, was inducted in 1990. Tapia, a five-time world champion, entered the hall in 2017.

Both men are deceased.

Floyd Mayweather Jr., who retired unbeaten in 50 fights, headlined the three classes that were inducted on Sunday. The pandemic forced the postponement of the previous two induction ceremonies, making 2022 a crowded affair.

The ceremony was moved from the Hall of Fame’s home in Canastota, New York, to Turning Stone Resort and Casino in nearby Verona to accommodate the 36 honorees.

Roy Jones Jr., Miguel Cotto, James Toney and female champions Regina Halmich and Holm were part of this year’s class. The Class of 2020 included multi-division champions Bernard Hopkins, Juan Manuel Marquez, and “Sugar” Shane Mosley.

The Class of 2021 included Mayweather, Wladimir Klitschko, and Andre Ward.

Also among those honored were the first female fighters — Christy Martin, Laila Ali, Lucia Rijker, Regina Halmich, and Holm — to be enshrined. Martin shot to fame when she was featured on some of Mike Tyson’s fight cards in the 1990s. Induction came on her 54th birthday.

For Laila Ali, it was a return to where her career started. She won her first match in October 1999 against April Fowler at Turning Stone.

All but one of the 27 fighters inducted were scheduled to be at the ceremony. The one missing was former heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko.

He’s in Ukraine helping his brother, Vitali, a Hall of Famer himself and now the mayor of the capital city of Kyiv, during the ongoing war against invading Russia.

Instead, Wladimir Klitschko, who was heavyweight champion for 12 years and 2 days, longer than anyone in history, and finished with a pro record of 64-5 (53 KOs), released two short videos on social media to acknowledge the honor.

“Thank you fans. I never ever dreamed of getting that far in the sport. Amazing,” Klitschko said. “Boxing just made me a better person, period. It taught me a lot.”

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