Considered among the pound for pound best in the female boxing world, Cecilia Braekhus will make history once again when she headlines a boxing card in Norway on October 1.
The sport has been banned in the northern European country for more than 30 years.
Norwegian by choice, Colombian by birth, thirty-five year old Braekhus is the first and only female boxer to unify all the titles in the division holding the WBA, WBC, WBO and IBF welterweight titles as well as the IBO while amassing a perfect record of 28 wins against no losses. Seven of the those wins coming before the distance.
The fight card will take place at The Spectrum in Oslo, Norway, and will be presented by Braekhus’ own First Lady Promotions and possibly in association with K2 Promotions who she signed with back in September of last year.
The ban of boxing in Norway dates back to a 54-24 vote by that country’s parliament in early 1981. The Nordic Council called for the halt in the sport in 1969 with Sweden being the first to stop allowing it. The ban was called the “knockout law” since it banned any sport where victory or points could be scored by a knockout. The reason given for the ban by the council was that professional boxing lacked the strict safety rules of amateur boxing including bigger gloves and head protection. The ban included anybody staying, participating or even training in the sport. Offenders would be subject up to three months in prison. The last reported professional fight card held in Norway was in December of 1980 since the ban took effect the first day of 1981.
The ban was lifted in 2014 by a smaller margin than it was voted in with Parliament voting 54-48 to allow boxing back in their country. At the time of the lift, the “First Lady” Braekhus told Norwegian broadcaster NRK, “I believe this might be one of the greatest moments of my life. I am very glad that we’ve achieved this together. It’s hard to describe all the emotions. In any case, I’m not a criminal in Norway anymore.”
Born in Colombia in 1981, the same year the ban began, a Norwegian couple adopted Braekhus two years later. At 14 she began to kick box but at 21 switched to boxing where she amassed an 80-bout amateur record with only losing five contests.
She had to leave her country for neighboring Germany to begin her professional career. Braekhus signed with Sauerland Promotions in 2007.
“It’s been a challenge to be a woman in this sport. Also it was hard for all the years when I was not allowed to box in Norway,” Braekhus told CNN. “That was pretty sad because I was excluded from a lot of things, I actually felt my sport was criminalized and it’s not a good feeling.”
Two years later, after going pro, Braekhus captured her first title, the vacant WBC welterweight strap, with a unanimous decision over Dane Vinni Skovgaard. One fight later she added the WBA version by defeating Amy Yuratovac by the same fashion. The vacant WBO title came with another unanimous decision in 2010, this one over Victoria Cisneros of Albuquerque, New Mexico. She didn’t add the IBF belt until 2014 when she defeated Ivana Habazin with a lopsided unanimous decision. She has defended her unified titles twice over Jennifer Retzke and in her last fight, Chris Namus, in February of this year.
Despite not being able to fight in her home country of Norway, Braekhus has ventured outside of Germany to ply her trade with her debuting taking place in Switzerland. She has also competed in the United States back in 2008 in Hollywood, Florida, in Belgium, Finland and nearly as many times in Denmark as in Germany but fighting in Norway is a dream come true. She is one of the most popular sports figures in Norway despite never have fought there.
“I had thousands of Norwegians coming to my fights (in Germany), they just went across the border,” Braekhus explained to CNN in a feature story by the news outlet earlier this year. “My fights were shown on television back in Norway and I had half of Norway watching. I won sports person of the year. I thought it was a bit of double standard, supporting me like this, also from politicians and the royal family, but boxing in Norway I would be jailed. So it was a strange situation.”
No opponent has been named for Braekhus historic next fight.