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Sumya Anani (born February 12, 1972) is one of the top fighters in the sport of women's boxing.
Anani, like many women's boxers, came to the sport in a roundabout fashion. While living in Kansas City in the early 1990s and working as a massage therapist, she took a course in self-defense. When she impressed her instructor with her athletic ability and powerful punch, he encouraged Anani to give boxing a try.
She entered professional boxing in August 1996, mostly fighting in and around Kansas City. She quickly made a name for herself when, in her fourth fight on December 12, 1996, her opponent Katherine Dallam suffered massive brain injuries during a fight that ended in a fourth-round knockout.
In her ninth fight, in March 1998, Anani defeated Andrea DeShong, a longtime rival of world welterweight champion Christy Martin. Then, on December 18 of that year, Anani faced Martin herself, in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Coming into the fight, Martin was unbeaten in her last 34 bouts. However, Anani controlled the fight from start to finish and won a stunning victory.
The win over Martin propelled Anani into the top rung of women's boxing stars, and she won her next four fights before suffering an upset at the hands of Britt Van Buskirk on September 17, 2000.
While waiting for a rematch with Van Buskirk, Anani captured the IBA lightweight title from Liz Mueller in May 2001. Then, on October 20, she got the rematch and took a 10-round unanimous decision over Van Buskirk for the GBU welterweight title.
Her next fight, a month later, ended in a draw with Fredia Gibbs for the WIBA light welterweight title, as one judge had Anani as the winner, but the other two scored the fight even. In February 2002, Anani gave Van Buskirk a rubber match and beat her on a unanimous decision.
On June 21, 2002, Anani won her third world title when she faced Jane Couch for the WIBA light welterweight title that eluded her the year before. This time, she overwhelmed Couch and won on a fourth-round technical knock-out. Then, on November 2, she won her fourth world title, knocking out Lisa Holewyne in the fifth round for the IBA welterweight title.
On April 18, 2003, Anani faced Gibbs for a second time and fixed the only other blemish on her record by way of a first-round TKO. Following that victory, she was inactive for a year before returning to the ring on April 24, 2004 for a rematch against Holewyne in Los Angeles. Holewyne had claimed the WIBF and GBU welterweight titles in a December 2003 fight and later asked Anani for a rematch. This time, Anani beat her on a six-round unanimous decision.
With one week notice Stephanie Jaramillo was offered to fight Sumya Anani, arguably one of the top female fighters. Anani held the WIBA, IFBA, IBA, and GBU titles. In 2003 Ring Magazine ranked her as the best pound-for-pound boxer. She is currently[when?] ranked number one in just about everything. The fight took place on December 3, 2004 in Kansas City, MO.
Stephanie said that was an opportunity that she thought she might never have. Anani, ten years her senior, is in her prime. Stephanie figured that by the time she even reached the same status as Anani, that she (Anani) would be looking at retirement.
"It just feels right, for me to face her in the ring. What an honor to be able to get into the ring with the BEST. I've been in the gym training, just something inside tells me that it's right. It's just right. I may be holding a pair of 2's in a poker game, but I feel good about them. Something deep inside is telling me that I need this. I'm a student of the game, and there are some lessons that can't be learned in the gym. And I know that just by stepping in the ring with Anani, it will make me a better fighter, a different fighter. " Stephanie says, "How are you gonna get better and grow if you don't just do it. There are two things that happen when you step up to the plate, you swing and miss or you hit the ball. But you can't possibly know what will happen UNTIL you step up to that plate."
Stephanie took Anani to the limit, proving that she has the heart, and the dedication to be one of the top female fighters. Though she lost by decision, she smiled and jumped up at the end of the bout ... apparently happy to have gone the full distance against Anani.