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Marian Trimiar: The legend of the 'Lady Tyger'

Updated: Jun 27, 2023

Introducing Marian Trimiar

Marian ‘Lady Tyger’ Trimiar was one of the first women to receive a boxing license in the US in the late 70’s. From humble beginnings, she went on to become a world champion and challenge prejudice regarding female boxers and black women. She is a true inspiration and we thought her story deserves sharing.

Born to become a Women's World Boxing Champion

Born in The Bronx in 1953, Trimiar was shown the world of boxing from a young age. By age 10 she was watching fights on TV and at her local gyms. The more she watched the more she was certain, she was going to step into the ring herself one day. But when she voiced her dream she was simply laughed at. Women’s boxing was not even legal yet, so how was she going to go Pro?

Starting as an Amateur Boxer

She began working out at her local gym and was partnered with a male boxer who did not pull his punches in the ring. But she returned the very next day, proving that nothing would stop her and winning the gyms respect.

After graduating high school, she began a more serious training regime at 18 years old. She made her amateur debut in 1974 against her friend Diane Corum. In the lead up to the match she trained 7 days a week, was full out sparring against male partners and running daily. The fight gained some media attention and the New York Times even claimed that she was shown waves of support from the community upon her arrival at the venue.

Taking on the NYSAC and becoming a Professional Boxer

In September that same year Trimiar applied for her boxing licence alongside Jackie Tonawanda. She thought that by getting licenced she would “open doors for others”, allowing more women to enjoy the sport. However, they would be declined by the New York State Athletic Commission (NYSAC) on the basis that Rule 205 stated that women were prohibited from being licenced boxers. Marian Trimiar went on to fight in exhibitions illegally for the next few years as litigation and lawsuits against the NYSAC continued.

After spending four years in the amateur scene sparring with opponents in exhibition and enduring the institutionalised racism and sexism of the sport at the time, Trimiar was finally awarded her licence. Other States in the mid 70’s were providing female boxers with licences and in 1978 Trimiar, Tonawanda and Cathy Davis were the first women to be awarded boxing licences in the state of New York. Trimiar had finally taken her biggest step to becoming a professional boxer. This led to many more women becoming licenced boxers and is a testament to the determination of the ‘Lady Tyger’.

The next year in 1979, she took the world lightweight championship title from Sue “KO” Carlson cementing her place in the boxing hall of fame. Her professional career went on until 1987, her BoxRec stats show that her professional record was 14-4 with 5 KOs. Trimiar has said in interviews that overall her record is 21-4, a truly remarkable feat.

Advocacy and legacy for women's boxing

Outside of the ring Trimiar is well known for her outspoken stance on opening up boxing to women. In 1987 she undertook a month-long hunger strike to promote better pay and conditions for professional female boxers. Trimiar demanded that major networks cover bouts between women, that female boxers would receive equal prize money to men, and that boxing should be promoted to women and girls as a way to build their confidence and teach them self-defence. She picketed the Ray Leonard/Marvin Hagler fight in April of that year with two other boxers. They were protesting against promoter Robert Arum who was unmoving in his refusal to work with female boxers. When asked how far she would take her hunger strike, Trimiar is quoted as saying ‘I might just take it all the way.’ She lost over fifteen kilograms during her strike and her story was quickly lapped up by the media, making promoters reflect on their opinions regarding women’s boxing.

Even though Marian ‘Lady Tyger’ Trimiar is long retired there is no doubt that she is a true pioneer of women’s boxing, having achieved a stellar record in the ring and established a place for women in a sport that would have happily kept them out. Trimiar also received a letter from the Smithsonian Institute asking for her old equipment for their collections, cementing her status as a legend of women’s boxing.

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