Alicia Napoleon is Putting a Spotlight on Women's Boxing, One Fight at a Time
Over the years, boxing has evolved for the better; sharper athletes are competing and big events are resulting in big paydays for (mostly) all involved.
There is one aspect of the game that hasn’t quite been given its opportunity to grow, and that is the women of the boxing world.
Whether it is a lack of promotion or lack of pay, female fighters are working overtime to show they belong in the ring. There are competitive fighters who are women that sometimes showcase more talent than the men. Alicia “The Empress” Napoleon is one of them.
Fighting out of Lindenhurst, NY, Napoleon (9-1) is truly a rising star in the sport of boxing. She won the WBA Super Middleweight Title in a competitive fight against Kemke Hermans at the Barclays Center. While placed before Deontay Wilder beat Luis Ortiz, it was one of the best fights of the night and received a standing ovation from the Brooklyn crowd. It is the first step in her goal to make boxing aware of the presence of female fighters.
Before her fight against Hannah Rankin on August 4 at the Nassau Coliseum, Alicia took a moment to reflect. Speaking to Alicia after motivating kids at Crestwood Day Camp, Female Fight Fans’ Dan Yanofsky was able to get her thoughts on her upcoming fight, the current state of boxing and what can change.
Female Fight Fans: What does it mean to you to fight like a girl?
Alicia Napoleon: I’m just doing what I love to do. That’s all I ever can do. There is a lot more than what I’m fighting for. The fight in the ring seems to be the easiest fight compared to everything outside of the sport. Women are really fighting for equal opportunity, equal recognition and equal pay. I know, and all women know, we are just not being treated right in this sport overall.
It is definitely different from what I have seen in MMA. There is a lot of bias in the sport of boxing, and there are many who feel like we don’t belong in the ring. A lot of us are fighting for that to change and to expose those that are blocking us from having those opportunities.
FFF: When talking to Heather Hardy about this issue, she stated the same exact thing. That is why she competes in both MMA and boxing. Does that entice you?
AN: I dabbled in a few combat/contact sports when I was younger. I’ve been in boxing for half of my life, so I believe I am going to stand my ground and fight outside and inside the ring for what I think is right. I believe it will change, so that is why I’ll stay where I am.
FFF: As one the first female fighter to compete at the Nassau Coliseum, how does that feel?
AN: It is bittersweet. I’m getting so much love and support from my Long Island fans and the media. I’m getting tons of exposure around the area, yet my fight against Hannah will not be televised on FOX. I will be making history while defending a world title against a great fighter. It is a Grade “A” fight and nothing is being done to promote us outside of New York. We are forced to fight either before or after the main fights. It’s very disheartening.
FFF: One of the things you said to the kids was dream big and to never stop chasing your dreams. How important is that?
AN: As I grow, I gain more strength in my belief. It’s a hard road, with tons of resistance. I’m not going to let go of my promise. I know I’m meant for great things. Although I don’t know exactly what they are, I know they are huge. If anyone, including these kids, could hold on and do whatever it is they want to do in this world, just know the journey will be hard but good things don’t always come easy. Hold on and persevere through it because they will happen. We don’t know when, but it will happen.
FFF: How can today’s generation help support the growing movement of women’s boxing?
AN: Social media has been a great tool for exposure. Buying tickets and coming to the fight definitely helps. Even just talking to family and friends about it can help. There is power in unity, so the more people that get on board the better. There will be a time when other female boxers and women from other sports will arise and be one voice. One of the biggest reasons we have these opportunities is because of the fans. They are more important than they realize. Their voice is a big help to our voice.
FFF: Your last fight against Femke was exciting, especially toward the later rounds. Do you scout your opponents and find them at their weakest in order to expose them in the later rounds?
AN: I don’t plan it out. I do the best I can; I don’t really study my opponents. Including this weekend, it will be two opponents in a row with no tape to study. I just listen to my great camp. They can guide me through anything. As the late rounds go on I become a better fighter.
I sparred a lot more for this fight. I did over 100 rounds of sparring, including what I did with the kids.
FFF: How will it feel to have the support from family and friends, fighting at home?
AN: It is a beautiful moment. Friends from high school will be there as well. They truly give me an extra boost. There is nothing greater than people who scream and cheer you on. It’s like rolling deep with the Long Island Mafia.