Air conditioning is only a suggestion at the Ultimate Gym on Queen City Dr. in Charlotte. It’s a gym for boxers and martial artists. On the floor are weights. Hanging from the ceiling are a variety of speed and heavy bags. On the wall are pictures of Muhammad Ali, Rocky Marciano and Bruce Lee. Comfortable is not what the gym is supposed to be.
Christy Salters Martin walks in and suddenly there’s a breeze.
“I’m full of hot air,” she says.
I know what you’re thinking: Another boxing column? Well, yes. But If I don’t write about it, who will? There are some cool local kids that fight on Charlotte boxing cards, and they get cheered as they walk to the ring. How often do any of us get cheered? I love the stuff. You might, too.
Martin, a Charlotte resident and the former women’s lightweight champion, will promote a boxing card Saturday at CenterStage@Noda, her sixth in North Carolina and, she says, the best.
The main event is compelling. It matches welterweights (147 pounds) Jamaal Gregory of Charlotte and Anthony Sonnier of Raleigh.
Sonnier, 24, is 4-0 with two knockouts. Gregory, 23, is 3-1 with one knockout.
Gregory took a risk in his second fight, taking on undefeated Marcel Rivers of Philadelphia in Philadelphia. Rivers won a unanimous decision. So, Gregory is undefeated in Charlotte.
“There’s a lot of talking,” Martin says as we stand against the Ultimate Gym’s enormous 24-by-24 ring. “People on that side of the state who know Sonnier think he’s going to knock out Jamaal, and people here that know Jamaal think he’ll knock Sonnier out in two or three rounds. There’s a lot going on between the camps, and that’s good for the promoters.”
Other local fighters on the card include super welterweight (154 pounds) Michael White of Charlotte, who will fight Bryan Mullis of Mount Holly.
“Bryan is a tough kid, straightforward, lots of action. Mike is the same,” says Martin.
Also featured will be another super welterweight, Cody Bullock, 2-0, of Asheville.
“He might be the most talented local fighter I’ve seen,” says Martin. “He’s a boxer-puncher, not really straight-ahead boxing, moves his feet, angles, not that one-punch knockout artist. Does everything well. He’s young (21 years old) in his career.”
Doors open at 6 p.m. and the fights begin at 7. General admission is $35, VIP $100.
You know Martin, 50. She lived in suburban Orlando before moving to Charlotte, and taught at Vance High. She was 49-7-3 as a boxer, but that’s a little misleading – she was 4-5-1 in her last 10 fights. At one time, she won 20 straight.
Last weekend in Tampa, she was inducted into the Florida Boxing Hall of Fame. She received a standing ovation. Nobody else did.
“I spent so much time in Florida, I feel like that’s home,” says Martin, who is from West Virginia. “For people in Florida to recognize my boxing career, my hard work, I appreciate it.”
Also inducted was Steve Frank, a super middleweight who was 17-4-1. Amy Schumer is in talks to play Martin in “Christy Martin,” a Voltage Pictures film about Martin’s life. If she does, Frank, who like Martin boxed for Don King, will train the actress and comedian.
“He needs to show her how to throw that left hook,” Martin says.