Recently, I spoke to Christy Salters about her promotion company and an upcoming boxing tournament that will take place in Fayetteville, North Carolina.
I know many of you are wondering, who the heck is Christy Salters?
Most of you know her as Christy Martin.
Does the name ring a bell?
Yes, I'm talking about the “Coal Miner's Daughter,” a former world champion and a 2020 International Boxing Hall of Fame inductee.
Christy is the boss of Christy Martin Promotions and showcases professional boxing events throughout several states. She is also the founder of Christy's Champs, a non-profit organization supporting victims of domestic abuse.
Deputy Mark Hornsby, the director of the Harnett County Sheriff’s Office P.A.L., along with Christy Martin Promotions, are hosting an invitational amateur boxing tournament. The “Christy Martin Title Invitational” boxing tournament will take place on July 23rd, 2021, and run through July 25th, 2021, in Fayetteville, North Carolina.
Please enjoy this Q&A with the former world champion and Hall of Famer Christy Martin.
J.R.: Good Morning, Champ. Thank you for taking time from your busy schedule to talk to me this morning. Your promotional company is hosting a boxing tournament in Fayetteville, North Carolina. Please tell us about your promotional company.
C.S.: Christy Martin Promotions, we've been at this promotional thing for about six years now. Actually, I started out as Pink Promotions, and so many people came to me and said, “Christy, why aren't you using your name?” But that was the whole point, I didn't want to use my name because I wanted to build something that would stand on its own separate from my boxing career. They said, “You're missing the point. It needs to be Christy Martin Promotions.” So after about a year, maybe two, I changed it to Christy Martin Promotions. I feel like we are gaining speed, we were definitely on the uptake, and then COVID hit, and it's been hard, it’s been hard even on the big guys. We are still struggling through it, but I think we are growing, and we are getting there. We started as a four-round promoter, just like you start out as a four-round fighter. I feel like we are about to become an 8-round promoter. Back in January, I had the honor of working with Don King and running a show for him down in south Florida. It was kind of full circle, I guess from fighter until now, being on the other side and working with them. It was a lot of fun and made me feel good to do that for him, and it's also a good look on my resume.
J.R.: What was it like working with Don King? What kind of experience were you able to gain working with such a well-known promoter?
C.S.: Being a fighter for Don King for many years -I think I had like 20 fights with him- you learn the good, the bad, and the ugly. I was fortunate enough to be with him during the Mike Tyson days and during the height of boxing and at the height, I would say, of his promotional career.
So, I saw it all, and from that experience, I am trying to take away some things to build my own company and how I want things to work for Christy Martin Promotions.
J.R.: How has your experience as a fighter helped you as a promoter?
C.S.: My experience as a fighter has helped me as a promoter because I know how to treat fighters. I try to treat all the fighters with equal respect. I don't want to leave anyone at the airport, I don't want to leave anyone at the hotel without a ride back to the airport, I don't want anyone not to get their food money. It’s the little things that matter. As a fighter, sometimes you can feel like you didn't get treated fairly. So I try to go overboard as a promoter to treat all the fighters fairly, respectfully, and like a champion.
J.R.: How many events has your promotion company showcased throughout the years? That's probably asking a lot. So let's narrow it down to the last couple of years.
C.S.: Through the pandemic, we tried to stay busy. I think last year we did three fights. Christy Martin Promotions did one on its own in February last year in Florida. And then I worked with Gardner Payne, and we did a couple at the end of the year when things started to open up a little. So last year was the least busy year of all. We've been busy this year, having a pro show about one every month. And then we have the big amateur tournament in July.
J.R.: Wow, that's a good segue because that was my next question. So, tell me about this event that you're having in July. Fayetteville, NC, is mainly known for its military community and Fort Bragg. Not a lot of boxing events happen here. So, with respect to the city of Fayetteville, why here?
C.S.: Fayetteville is going to be a great host. Fayetteville is excited to have us, it's the All-American city, and it's the All-American tournament. So, we think it's a fitting place to have this tournament and to have people fly in from all over the country into Fayetteville, so they can see the city.
Maybe they get a chance to get some interaction with some of the military guys and women. I think it's a positive thing for boxing, and I think a positive thing for Fayetteville. The tournament is sponsored by the neighboring Harnett County Sheriff's office P.A.L. program. They're a huge sponsor. They are the reason we are going there. The year before last, we had over 300 boxers. This time around, we are hoping that it’s going to be over 400 boxers.
J.R.: Wow, this is a big tournament. You are partnered up with Title Boxing, is that correct?
C.S.: Title is one of the sponsors along with the WBC. It's only the third year we've had the tournament, and this is something that's here to stay, and it’s going to continue to grow.
J.R.: Me being a retired veteran, my last duty station was Fort Bragg, NC. I've resided in the area for the last 11 years, and Fayetteville is definitely growing, and of course, with the military presence here, most soldiers love combat sports and a good fight, so I'm pretty sure it's going to be a packed house.
C.S.: Yeah, we're hoping. We still need some sponsors to come on board, some local sponsors to come out and help us out, and of course, all the local boxing fans to come out and support these amateur boxers. They are all boxing for a title belt. They are excited, and I think it's an excellent opportunity for them to display their skills. We have elite boxers, we have masters, we have males, females, J.O.s, and everybody who wants to put the gloves on and compete is more than welcome to the tournament.
C.S.: The only amateur fighter that I may be bringing, her name is Zoe Bustamante. She is from Las Vegas, she's 11 years old and weighs 80 lbs., and she is a “badass.” She puts a smile on my face, and right now, she's the only amateur boxer I'm working with.
J.R.: When you built this promotion company, was there a theme or a message that speaks to the company's nature and which you run the company with that focus in mind?
C.S.: This is a crazy marriage sometimes, but I always team up my boxing promotion with my domestic violence awareness non-profit organization. My message, and I always say that God left me here for a reason, is to share my story, to get the news out there about domestic violence awareness. I partner everything I do, whether it's amateur boxing or professional boxing, with that message. We are always making donations back to the local domestic violence centers. We team up with them in any way and every way possible. Wherever I'm going to be making an appearance, it's always going to come back around to talk about domestic violence, maybe just a minute. Still, I'm going to get the message in there.
J.R.: Growing up, I lived in a dysfunctional household, and I was a witness to the horrors of domestic violence. What you do is very important and very inspiring, and I thank you for all the hard work you’re doing to bring awareness to domestic violence.
C.S.: Thank you. So many people don't understand the connection between boxing and domestic violence, and to me, it's so obvious. But they are my two passions. It's who I am, and to me, it just makes sense for the two to join together. We must break the cycle, and to do that, we have to start with the kids. So many of the P.A.L. programs have gone away. Christy’s Champs is my non-profit, we team up with local gyms all over the country to kind of fill that void and bring kids to the gym. Additionally, we buy computers for different boxing gyms, arranging for tutors to come in and spend time with the kids. Hopefully, we can make a difference.
J.R.: Do you personally work with any of the pro fighters? Do you give them any tips or pointers?
C.S.: I don't coach anybody. Because so many people would walk into my gym when I was training and would try to tell me what I was doing, tell me I was throwing my hook wrong, you get tired of it after a while. You get tired of it as a coach, and you get tired of it as a fighter. So, I try to keep my thoughts to myself. Sometimes I may talk to a coach training one of the fighters I promote and give the coach my opinion. If the coach says, why don't you show the fighter, then I'll show them. But I always preface that this is what worked for me, which doesn't mean that it works for everybody. Mike Tyson's style doesn't work for everybody. Floyd Mayweather's style doesn't work for everybody. So, you kind of have to find your own little niche as you go forward.
J.R.: Do you do any of the matchmaking?
C.S.: I do it all. Brian Shannon from Myrtle Beach helps me. But up to the last couple of fights, I made sure that everyone had their flights, hotel, and insurance. It was a one-woman show, but I know that to grow and get bigger, I have to start trusting people and finding some help.
J.R.: What is your strategy when you are matching fights?
C.S.: As a matchmaker, what I will not do is match an A against an F. I'm not good enough, like Bruce Trampler, to match a B with a B+ and know my B+ is going to win. I want my fights to be competitive. I won't bring in a guy that is just going to lay down, guys like that I don't even do business with. Does it happen sometimes? Yeah, but nothing happens that I know is going to happen. Too many promoters at my level bring in a whole side that’s going to go one round. You can look back at my fights, and I don’t do those kinds of fights. In may last fights down in Orlando, first fight out Matt Gaver upset Daiyann Butt. It was a huge upset, 7-0 against a 1-5, and the 1-5 beat the 7-0. The 7-0 fought in many of my fights. But I try to make them as competitive as possible.
J.R.: Aside from your promotion company and your non-profit domestic violence awareness organization, are there any other charitable organizations you work with?
C.S.: No, not really. I'm going to be speaking in Kansas City on July 31st. There is a domestic violence awareness event, “Believe” is the title. I will be the keynote speaker for that, and I'm really excited about that opportunity. On August 17th, a Netflix documentary will be released. That's going to be cool. I’m kind of busy with many things. I'm just hoping that something positive happens and that we are touching some people's lives.
J.R.: Thank you for taking some time from your busy schedule to talk to me. I really appreciate it.
C.S.: Thank you, I also want to recognize and give credit to Deputy Mark Hornsby with the Harnett County Sheriff's office. Deputy Hornsby does all the work. He's the one behind the scenes that makes this happen.
My Take: Christy Salters may be retired from boxing, but she still lives much of her life as a warrior. Whether promoting a fight, doing work with her non-profit organization, or guest speaking to bring awareness to domestic violence abuse, Christy ensures that every project has her full, undivided attention and dedication. Her passion is fueled by her humility and experiences. She works tirelessly to run a promotional company where fighters are treated with dignity and respect. She is tenacious in making sure that those that suffer from domestic violence have a voice. She partners up with organizations, such as the Harnett County Sheriff's office P.A.L., which invest in children's athletic growth and well-being pursuing the sport of boxing.
Fayetteville, NC, is the home to Fort Bragg. It is the home of the Airborne and Special Operations Forces. Fayetteville and its surrounding counties are densely populated with soldiers that understand the meaning of passion, dedication, perseverance, and, more importantly, fighting for a cause greater than themselves. Christy fights for those that can’t or don’t have the tools to fight for themselves. Therefore, it’s fitting that she is hosting a tournament in a city full of selfless warriors, and we welcome her with open arms.