For most of boxing’s history, it was a men-only sport. However, the fighting instinct is inside every person, and women’s boxing has staked its claim in the boxing world. Pro female boxers have changed the way the world looks at fight sports.
As a lifelong boxing fan who participated in amateur circuits in my youth, I have witnessed firsthand how female professional boxers are every bit as gritty, determined, and skillful as their male counterparts. I never thought much about girl boxers or girl fighters until I trained with them and watched them compete, which completely changed my perspective on women in combat sports.
In this article, I’m going to share my list of the top 15 greatest female boxers of all time. Not only have these women dominated their divisions, but they’ve also blazed a trail for the future of female boxing for generations to come.
Table of Contents
- 15. Holly Holm (USA)
- 14. Marian Trimiar (USA)
- 13. Mary Kom (India)
- 12. Natascha Ragosina (Russian)
- 11. Giselle Salandy (Trinidad)
- 10. Christy Martin (USA)
- 9. Amanda Serrano (Puerto Rico)
- 8. Regina Halmich (Germany)
- 7. Cecilia Braekhus (Norway)
- 6. Ann Wolfe (USA)
- 5. Mia St. John (USA)
- 4. Claressa Shields (USA)
- 3. Laila Ali (USA)
- 2. Katie Taylor (Ireland)
- 1. Lucia Rijker (Dutch)
15. Holly Holm (USA)
The first entry on this list of the greatest female boxers of all time is a woman who is most famous for her accomplishments in other combat sports. Holly Holm is not only one of the best women boxers ever but also an accomplished kickboxer and MMA champion, most famous for being the first fighter to beat Ronda Rousey in the UFC.
However, before her MMA career, Holm dominated the boxing ring. Born in Albuquerque, New Mexico, USA, Holm competed in the women’s welterweight division and was active from 2002 until 2013. Over the course of her career, she collected 33 wins (9 KOs), 2 losses, and 3 draws.
Holm was Ring Magazine’s Female Fighter of the Year in both 2005 and 2006, becoming welterweight champion in 2008 after defeating Mary Jo Sanders. She later became the WBF, IBA, and WBAN welterweight champion in 2012 when she defeated Anne Sophie Mathis in 2012.
She then transitioned to MMA, becoming the UFC bantamweight champion when she knocked out Ronda Rousey with a head kick despite being a heavy underdog. Her accomplishments in boxing as well as her success in MMA make her an obvious choice amongst the best women boxers.
14. Marian Trimiar (USA)
Next on the list is Marian “Lady Tyger” Trimiar, the first black women boxer on this list. A trailblazer for women’s boxing, Trimiar was one of the first pro female boxers to get a boxing license in New York State, paving the way for future women fighters.
Born in the Bronx, New York, USA, Trimiar competed in the lightweight division and was active from 1975 to 1985. Over the course of her decade-long career, she amassed 18 wins (5 KOs) and 4 losses.
What makes Trimiar so special is not just her fighting ability inside the boxing ring, but also her fight outside of it. She had to sue the New York State Athletic Commission to be granted a license, a lawsuit that lasted years before finally winning in 1978, changing the sport of boxing forever.
She would go on to become the women’s lightweight world champion when she defeated Sue Carlson. After her boxing career, she became an advocate for women boxers, going on a hunger strike in 1987 to protest unfair wages and working conditions. She was elected into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 2021.
13. Mary Kom (India)
The first female boxer from Asia on our list is Mary Kom, one of the most decorated amateur boxers of all time. Although she hasn’t competed in professional female boxing, her accolades as an amateur are so impressive that she earned a spot on this list.
Born in the rural village of Kagathei in Manipur, India, Kom is not just the most decorated amateur female boxer of all time, but also one of the most successful amateurs including male boxers. She was the first woman to win the World Amateur Boxing Championship six times – a record that still stands today.
Competing in the atomweight and flyweight divisions, Kom is a 5-time gold medalist in the Asian championships, a bronze Olympic medalist, a 6-time World Champion, and a gold medalist in the Asian Games and Commonwealth games.
Although she never pursued a career as a pro female boxer, choosing instead to become a politician and activist, Kom’s impact on women’s boxing can’t be understated. She is not only deserving of a spot on this list of the best women boxers but also worthy of a place on the list of the most legendary amateur boxers ever.
12. Natascha Ragosina (Russian)
The first undefeated pro female boxer on this list is Natascha Ragosina, a multiple-time champion across multiple divisions. Nicknamed “Miss Sledgehammer,” Ragosina is regarded as one of the best female boxers to compete in the heavier weight classes, including the female heavyweight division.
Born in Karaganda, Kazakhstan of Russian descent, Ragosina competed in the super middleweight and heavyweight divisions from 2004 until 2009. Over that time period, she racked up a perfect 22 wins (13 KOs) with 0 losses.
Ragosina is one of the most decorated female boxing champions of all time, having held the IWBF, WIBF, WIBA, Global Boxing Union, WBC, WBA, and WIBC super middleweight titles. She was also the female heavyweight champion of the WIBF and WBF.
In addition to her accomplishments in women’s boxing, Ragosina also won multiple titles in kickboxing, winning the World Championships in 1999 and the European Championships in 1998 and 1996.
11. Giselle Salandy (Trinidad)
The first undefeated black female boxer on our list is Giselle Salandy, one of the most promising female fighters whose boxing career was tragically cut short when she passed away in a car accident in 2009.
Born in Siparia, Trinidad and Tobago, Salandy competed in the light welterweight and light middleweight divisions from 2000 until 2008. She collected 16 wins (6 knockouts) without ever suffering a loss.
Salandy was the unified light middleweight champion from 2006 until her death in 2009, holding the WBA, WBC, WIBA, WIBF, and GBU belts. She set a record in 2006 when she won 6 belts in one night by defeating Miriam Brakache via unanimous decision.
One of the biggest “what if” stories in women’s boxing history, many believe that Salandy would have continued her dominant career en route to becoming the greatest female boxer of all time. She was honored by the International Women’s Boxing Hall of Fame, being posthumously inducted in 2016.
10. Christy Martin (USA)
Next on the list of the best female boxers of all time is Christy Martin. Considered a trailblazer and one of the most important women fighters in the sport, Martin is not just famous for being a boxer but also for her tumultuous life.
Born in Bluefield, West Virginia, USA, Martin competed in the light middleweight, middleweight, and super middleweight divisions from 1989 until 2012. Over the course of her illustrious career, she collected 49 wins (32 KOs), 7 losses, and 3 draws, a record for female boxers.
In addition to being the WBC female super welterweight champion in the latter stages of her career, she was also the light middleweight champion, defending her title 6 times. She was the first woman to be elected to the Nevada Boxing Hall of Fame in 2016, later being in the inaugural class of women boxers elected to the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 2020.
Martin’s rough life was the subject of a recent Netflix boxing documentary called Untold: Deal with the Devil, which documents Martin’s near murder at the hands of her husband in 2010. Martin survived the attack and her former husband is currently serving 25 years in prison.
9. Amanda Serrano (Puerto Rico)
Next on the list of greatest female boxers of all time is the first latina fighter, Amanda Serrano. A prolific knockout artist, Serrano is also the first woman boxer on this list who is still actively competing.
Born in Carolina, Puerto Rico, Serrano holds a professional boxing record of 43 wins (30 KOs), 2 losses, and 1 draw. She is one of the most successful boxers across multiple weight classes, competing in the super flyweight, bantamweight, super bantamweight, featherweight, super featherweight, lightweight, and light welterweight divisions. Serrano made her boxing debut in 2009 and is still competing to this day.
Serrano is the proud owner of a Guinness World Record for the most boxing championships in different weight classes by a woman boxer. She’s won 9 major world titles across a staggering seven weight classes. Her and her sister Cindy are the only sisters in boxing history to hold world titles simultaneously.
Serrano is a two-time winner of the Female Boxer of the Year Award and the first women boxer ever to win the “Super World Championship” award from the WBO. She is currently ranked as the best female featherweight in the world and third overall by ESPN.
8. Regina Halmich (Germany)
The first woman boxer from Western Europe to make the list of best female boxers ever is Regina Halmich, a multi-time world champion who is credited with making women’s boxing popular in Europe.
Born in Karlsruhe, Baden-Wurttemberg, Germany, Halmich competed in the light flyweight, flyweight, and super flyweight divisions from 1994 until 2007. Over her career she collected 54 wins (16 KOs) with only 1 loss and 1 draw, making her one of the winningest women boxers of all time.
Halmich held the WIBF world titles in the flyweight and super flyweight divisions, later becoming the IWBF super flyweight champion. She defeated Reka Krempf in her final fight in 2007, successfully completing a mind-boggling 44 title defenses, the most in women’s boxing history.
In addition to her boxing career, she was also an amateur kickboxing champion in Germany. Ring Magazine named her as the 2nd greatest female boxer of all time in 2016.
7. Cecilia Braekhus (Norway)
The next black female boxer to make the list of the greatest women boxers of all time is Cecilia Braekhus, a multiple-time world champion who holds many boxing records. She is one of only four women boxers to simultaneously hold 4 major world titles, a record that is only shared amongst 11 boxers ever, men included.
Born in Cartagena, Colombia but representing Norway, Braekhus competed in the welterweight division from 2007 until 2021. Over that time she amassed 36 wins (9 KOs) with 2 losses. She held the welterweight title in the WBA, WBC, IBF, and WBO from 2014 until 2020.
In addition to her championship belts, Braekhus holds multiple Guinness World Records. She holds the record for the longest reigning female boxing champion, the longest reign as a unified champion, and the most bouts as an undefeated female boxing champion.
Braekhus was the inaugural award winner for the Boxing Writers Association of America’s Female Fighter of the Year award in 2017 and was ranked as the third best pound-for-pound female fighter by ESPN.
6. Ann Wolfe (USA)
Next on the list of the best female boxers of all time is Ann Wolfe, a simultaneous world title holder across three different weight classes. As a black women boxer, she is widely considered the best female middleweight of all time.
Born in Austin, Texas, USA, Wolfe competed in the light middleweight, middleweight, super middleweight, and light heavyweight divisions from 1998 until 2006. During that time span, she collected 24 wins (16 KOs) with only 1 defeat.
She won her first world title against Vienna Williams to become the IFBA middleweight champion, going on to collect the WIBA light middleweight title and the IFBA super middleweight title, holding all 3 belts simultaneously in 3 different weight categories.
Her knockout of Vonda Ward in 2004 was deemed the greatest knockout punch in women’s boxing history. She’s a member of the International Women’s Boxing Hall of Fame and had a cameo appearance in the 2017 film Wonder Woman.
5. Mia St. John (USA)
One of the most famous female boxers on this list is Mia St. John, a boxing title holder in multiple weight classes in addition to being a taekwondo champion.
Born in Los Angeles, California, USA, St. John made her pro boxing debut in 1997 and retired in 2016. Across her career, she collected a whopping 49 wins (19 KOs) with 14 losses and 2 draws. She competed in the welterweight, light welterweight, lightweight, super featherweight, and featherweight divisions.
Unlike the other female boxers on this list, who began their careers much earlier, St. John didn’t make her pro boxing debut until she was already 29 years old. Despite this relatively advanced age, she went on to become the WBC super welterweight champion as well as the IBA and IFBA lightweight champion.
4. Claressa Shields (USA)
Next up is the undefeated black women boxer Claressa Shields, an active woman boxer who is currently one of the most famous female boxers in the world. In addition to being an Olympic gold-medalist, she is the only boxer in history (including male boxers) to simultaneously hold the 4 major world titles in two different weight classes.
Born in Flint, Michigan, USA, Shields competes in the light middleweight, middleweight, and super middleweight divisions. She made her debut in 2017 and is active to this day, having a perfect 13 wins (2 KOs) with 0 losses.
Shields won gold in the 2012 London Olympics as well as the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics before going on to become the champion of the WBC, WBA, WBO, and IBF super-middleweight and middleweight champions.
Shields has the honor of being the first female boxer in history to headline an event broadcasted in the United States and was named the Female Fighter of the Year by the Boxing Writers Association of America in 2018.
3. Laila Ali (USA)
Another undefeated black female boxer, Laila Ali, is the daughter of Muhammad Ali, the man many consider to be the greatest boxer of all time.
Born in Miami Beach, Florida, USA, Ali competed from 1999 until 2007 in the super middleweight and light heavyweight categories. She holds a perfect record of 24 wins (21 KOs) with 0 defeats, giving her one of the highest knockout percentages for a female boxer at 87.5%.
She won her first boxing championship in 2002, becoming the WIBA super middleweight title, a belt she would defend 5 times. She also became the WBC super middleweight champion (defending twice), the IWBF super middleweight champion (defending twice), and the IBA super middleweight champion (defending four times). The only title she won without defending was the IWBF light heavyweight title.
She continued the legacy of her legendary father, staking her claim along his side as one of the greatest boxers of all time.
2. Katie Taylor (Ireland)
The next woman boxing champion to make the list of legendary female boxers of all time is Katie Taylor, who many consider to be the best active woman boxer on the planet. Taylor’s impressive resume includes an Olympic gold medal, 5 amateur world championships, and is one of the few boxers in history (male or female) to hold a belt in the four major boxing titles.
Born in Bray, County Wicklow, Ireland, Taylor debuted in 2016 and is active to this day. She competes in the lightweight and light-welterweight categories, holding a perfect record of 21 wins (6 KOs) with no defeats.
Taylor is the current women’s undisputed lightweight boxing champion, holding the WBA, IBF, WBO, and WBC titles. She also held the WBO junior-welterweight title. Her success in women’s boxing has made her an icon in her native Ireland, where she is credited as popularizing female boxing.
Both The Ring magazine and BoxRec rank her as the top pound-for-pound female boxer in the world, meaning she easily could have earned the top spot on the list of best female boxers ever.
1. Lucia Rijker (Dutch)
The honor of the greatest female boxer of all time goes to Lucia Rijker, a Dutch pro women boxer who was dubbed as “the most dangerous woman in the world.”
Born in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, Rijker competed from 1996 until 2004 in the super lightweight and welterweight divisions. She holds a perfect record of 17 wins (14 KOs) with 0 losses, good for a KO rate of 82%.
Rijker was known for her devastating knockout ability, becoming the WIBF super lightweight champion in 1997, the WIBO junior welterweight champion in 1998, and the WIBF champion in 1997. She also held 3 world titles in women’s kickboxing, making her one of the most successful female fighters ever.