Who is Christy Martin: Orlando boxer who survived shooting

·4 min read

Orlando boxer Christy Martin is the subject of a special report on CBS' “48 Hours” for her work with domestic abuse survivors, but that’s not where her career started.

Martin was a trailblazer in women’s boxing. Her accomplishments include gracing the cover of Sports Illustrated, being an undercard at Mike Tyson fights, becoming the first woman inducted into the Nevada Hall of Fame, and a woman who was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in June 2020.

The work she’s doing now, helping other domestic abuse survivors, is inspired by her real-life experience of nearly being killed by her husband.

Orlando Sentinel’s Mike Bianchi once said Martin is a woman who “not only keeps getting up but keeps getting better.”

Who is Christy Martin?

Christy Salters Martin is a hall of fame women’s boxer who once captured the nation’s attention for her prolific fighting skills. Martin won 49 fights in her career which dates back to 1989.

She also made the cover of Sports Illustrated in 1996 and used to earn in excess of $100,000 per fight. Martin was so good, Don King put her on the undercard of Mike Tyson’s fights.

In 1996, Christy Martin knocked out Bethany Payne by way of TKO in the first round.

It was that fight that allowed her to pave the way for women like Lucia Rijker and Laila Ali, the latter whom she fought in 2003.

Laila, son of legendary boxer Muhammed Ali, fought Martin for the Super Middleweight Championship belt. Martin lost by knockout in the fourth round. At the time of the loss, Martin was on a nine-fight winning streak and had a 45-2-2 record.

She also fought on the Miguel Cotto-Ricardo Mayorga undercard in 2011, just three months before the trial of a man who tried to kill her.

The Abusive Relationship That Almost Killed Her

Christy Martin was formerly married to James Martin in 2010. James is serving a 25-year sentence on attempted first-degree murder and aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.

The attack happened on Nov. 23, 2010. Her ex-husband had been abusing her for years, but this brutal attack came when she told her then-husband she was leaving him for her current partner, Sherry Lusk.

James stabbed Christy in the chest three times, nearly severed her calf muscle from her leg, then shot her.

Her injuries were extensive: one bullet missed her heart by inches and one of her lungs collapsed twice.

Christy managed to escape. James was arrested a week later and in 2012, a judge gave James the mandatory minimum sentence for the attack.

Life After the Attack

Christy, nicknamed the “Coal Miner’s Daughter” in a nod to her West Virginia roots, recovered from her injuries and began to box again. The fight nearly killed her.

In 2011, at 48 years old, she chased that elusive 50th victory in a fight with Dakota Stone. During the fight, she broke her right hand in nine places.

Surgery for her hand lasted seven hours but when she woke up, she wouldn’t see, walk or talk because she suffered a stroke during the procedure.

She recovered from the surgery and the stroke, although she occasionally still has problems with short-term memory and double vision.

What Christy Martin Is Doing Now

Retired reporter George Diaz for the Orlando Sentinel interviewed Martin in 2018. She told Diaz she was in good spirits.

She’d married her partner Sherry Lusk in 2017, started speaking about domestic violence awareness, and even had plans to start filming a movie.

She told Diaz she wanted to tell her story because if she doesn’t, “I haven’t lived up for the reason God put me here. I don’t think there was any question I had to speak out.”

Martin warned women to leave abusive relationships. “Get out of your situation and don’t let it end up like mine did,” she told Diaz. “You may not be as fortunate.”

These days, she’s a boxing promoter running a nonprofit organization — Christy’s Champs — to help domestic violence survivors and their children. The two are heavily intertwined.

In any fights she promotes, a portion of the proceeds are donated to a local domestic violence shelter.

The “48 Hours” episode first airs at 10 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 14.


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