WBO World Female Featherweight Title Fight
New Zealand female fight sport continues to rise with Wellington’s own Gentiane “AAA” Lupi set to make New Zealand boxing history fighting for the vacant World Boxing Organisation (WBO) World Featherweight title in Auckland on April 16th 2016 against “Queen” Ronica Jeffrey of Brooklyn, USA.
The last time a New Zealand female boxer fought and won a title of this calibre was Daniella Smith in 2011 for the IBF Welterweight title in Germany, however, Lupi with a stellar fighting career in boxing (4W-1L-1D), Mixed Martial Arts (2W-1L-0D) and Muay Thai / Kickboxing (16W-1L-0D) at multiple weight divisions including 2 wins against the former champ is determined to raise the bar and do what she does best - “Anyone, Anywhere, Anytime”.
When asked about how it felt to be making New Zealand boxing history Lupi replied, “Feels like I just a got a visa for Mars!” Showing how surreal the feeling still is although the fight clearly has great meaning, “For me it justifies the time I've chosen to focus on this sport, a lighthouse on a rugged coast, it’s an affirmative to my trainer and my gym.”
This fight will most definitely attract international attention and while Lupi is undefeated in New Zealand and is one of the country’s most successful female fighters going around at the moment, she explains: “Take all the hype away, the media, the lazy, bias commentary, the social media posts of 20 rounds of bare knuckle sparring wearing 20kg weight vests and oxygen depriving masks. It’s all there for entertainment, for spectacle, for marketing, for someone to make some coin. The lights, the crowd, the belt ... nothing changes what happens when the bell rings. There are 10 rounds, 20 minutes maximum, to crack the puzzle in front of you.”
40 year old Lupi has this year been fighting a personal battle with her health, having to pull out of a fight against Daria “Boss” Smith earlier this year due to being hospitalised with pneumonia and blood clotting. “I dodged a bullet, me and Keanu Reeves. You turn 40, you've been told to stop training, most tell you it’s a good time to pack it in and ask what are you going to do now, tell you you're lucky you're not dead.” But determination has driven this fighter to reach her goals, “Deep down you know you have been given an opportunity, and that it is not to wallow in self-pity. The yellow brick road ahead is again not how you imagined, you know it will be difficult, but you and difficult have been pals for a while.” Lupi explains.
Lupi’s opponent is 32 year old “Queen” Ronica Jeffrey, an orthodox fighter from Brooklyn. Jeffrey is well known to go the distance in a fight and hasn’t finished an opponent since 2010, but has won 11 times that went the distance. “I know nothing (about Jeffrey). I’ve seen very little footage, so if anyone has got any send it to my trainer, thanks for that.” Lupi breaks down fight analysis, “I’m intuitive, I find watching opponents and breaking down their game mind numbingly boring, (but yes I do it when I’m told!)And I am not great at translating what I see on tape to how it feels in real life. I let my trainer deal with the strategy; I just keep aiming for it - Boom!”
Gentiane Lupi would like to make special mention to the following: My vast and varied team at MTI, my trainers, sparring partners, fighters, newbies and the jokers, especially the jokers, my team mate Rebecca Jennings who will also be fighting on this card, and whose arrival at our gym makes me believe there are no coincidences.
Lisa Lewis and Royal Rampage who have blasted into the world with an 80% all female card, World Titles and, persevering at raising the profile of a sport she believes in with hard work, dedication, drive, but beyond all those fine attributes, ACTION.
I would love to thank my family, Paul, Tahi, Bella, and Sunny. There is so much in life that is out of our control, we are not meant to control it, and we are made to share it, to share the hard times and the good. And I am grateful that they share theirs with me.
16th April 2016
Trusts Arena, Henderson, Auckland, New Zealand.
Doors open at 6pm.
Charity of Choice: Women’s Refuge