Ann Wolfe: She has heart, she has courage, and this girl can fight. Oh, did I mention that she isn’t afraid of Laila Ali either?
Interview by Benny Henderson Jr. (December 2, 2004)
At this point you might not know the name Ann Wolfe, you might not have seen this girl fight, but woe to the ones who have stepped in the ring with this punching predator! She might not have the name, she might not have the pedigree as some, or have been blessed with the easy street in life, but Ann has heart, Ann has courage, and Ann Wolfe isn’t afraid of Laila Ali either. As a matter of fact the Texas native that a lot of people just call 'that girl' isn’t afraid of anybody, and by no means will she back down. Since turning pro a little over six years ago 'Brown Sugar' has compiled a respectable record of 18-1 (12) and has avenged her only loss in her career to Valerie Mahfood. With big wins over such opponents as Gina Nichols and Mary Ann Almager she has paved the road to one of her biggest and I speak literally when I say biggest wins to date. Last May the 5’9” 172 pound Wolfe stepped in the ring with the undefeated 6’6” 170 pound Vonda Ward in front of 5,000 fans at the Mississippi Coast Coliseum in Biloxi, Mississippi. The towering lady giant didn’t even get the chance to fire off a shot before Wolfe landed a beautifully vicious overhand right that caught Ward right on the chin and sent her now limp, unconscious body slumping to the canvas at just 1:08 in the first round. With the win Wolfe won the vacant IBA light-heavyweight title. Was it a defining moment in Ann’s career? Sure it was, but Wolfe wants more. She wants to fight the best so she can say she is the best, secure in the knowledge that her achievements have come through hard work and dedication in the gym. Growing up without the pleasures of a normal life that most people take for granted, Wolfe uses her past as motivation and helps others to overcome their pasts to better themselves and build a future. Wolfe has lived a life that could be made into a lifetime special on TV. She has overcome a tattered past that included being homeless with two children and jobless without family and friends to help her out. Wolfe has fought hard as she strived to protect her children and provide them with a solid home, all the while becoming one of the top lady boxers in the process. So what does the future hold for this damsel of destruction? Hopefully a bout with Laila Ali to prove to the world that living under the greatest shadow doesn’t mean you are the greatest. Oh yeah, and also this. Her name is ANN WOLFE, Wolf with an E, and not 'THAT GIRL'. Ann Wolfe took the time out for the Doghouse to discuss her life in and out of the ring here is how it went.
Benny Henderson Jr.: What have you been up to these days?
Ann Wolfe: Training and running the gym, all I do is train and work with these kids everyday. I love just working with the children and boxing, I love to come to the gym and see these kids because they need a lot of help.
BH: You have had a rough past, do you use that to help others, or do you feel that it is your mission to help others?
AW: Yes, as much as I have been through if I can stop one person from going through what I went through. I have a passion for helping younger people to let them know that the biggest mistake that you can make is not keep on trying.
BH: You know that is really a good thing to be a mentor to these children.
AW: Yeah, because I have already won some world titles and you can’t eat those world titles, they mean something to you in your heart. But if you have no goal in life or passion for something to help somebody; I feel a lot of people live their life like a hamster in a wheel. Money doesn’t help but spirituality does help so if you don’t find meaning for your life then you didn’t live your life.
BH: I know it is a touchy subject, but can you give just a brief description of the obstacles in life that you went through growing up?
AW: Well growing up we were the poorest kids in town, we didn’t have running water, no electricity or gas, so I cut wood and hauled five gallon buckets of water. But my mother loved me. My mother died when I was eighteen and my father died when I was nineteen, it was just a year apart. I was homeless I had no place to go. I had two kids and I couldn’t run to Mama and Daddy. I had a sixth grade education. And everything bad that could happen just happened. I learned how to live my life, it took me a while but I learned how to live it. Even when I first started boxing I was so aggressive because that is all I knew. I had to steal to eat and all I knew how to do was be aggressive. I didn’t know nothing else but aggression and the will to survive. When you have so many things bad happen back to back, back to back you start questioning yourself and asking just why and I here for? That is the kind of life I had up until eighteen years ago when I had my daughter. I looked at my daughter and said that I am going to make sure that my daughter is going to have opportunity; I am not going to give them everything. A lot of people started giving me opportunities and I took the ones they gave me and that is why I am the way I am.
BH: Do you feel all this has molded you into what you are today?
AW: You can look at my life and look at the same people who have had a similar life to me and they still are going through hell. I am truly what you call a survivor, when you go through what I have been through or even more and I can’t even get to the depths of it because we would be on this phone all day. All of it will either make you or break you. If it breaks you, I have seen people just strung out, but if it makes you… Man, I have friends who are nineteen and twenty and I ask them could you imagine if you didn’t know where you were going to sleep tonight and it is cold in October, or you didn’t have a social security card or anything, what would you do? I had nothing so I am a strong survivor, I am a natural survivor, I am a natural predator. I had to find out the hard way and everybody like me couldn’t be helped, some of them are too far gone. I had a fifteen year old that I had to put out the gym and I have been helping with this kid since he was eight years old. But yesterday I had to truly see that there was no hope for him, well at least not through me, maybe through somebody else. I had another kid, all I had to do was open the gym doors and he has been there every single day. That is all he needed to change his life was me to open the gym and be there and talk with him. I didn’t have anybody to talk too.
BH: You are 5’9” and you fought Vonda Ward who is 6’6”, did you expect that fight to go the way it did?
AW: Let me tell you something about me, I seen them take my mother and put her in a box, the woman that I loved, the woman who had me. I seen them put her in a box and close it and put her in the ground and cover her up. I never thought that I could ever live life, so I don’t care of you are 6’9” or what you are, I know that I train to totally destroy you. You want to think that I would have just destroyed Vonda Ward, when Sunshine I just beat the hell out of her but I never knocked her down and she was a smaller woman. So I just go in there with the same mentality, I don’t care if you are big, I just don’t care who you are. I don’t go in there like a regular boxer, this is how I eat, this is how I pay the bills and take care of my kids. Vonda Ward was the heavyweight champion of the world, you have to realize that she was 6’6”, but when David took on Goliath he had no fear in his heart for nothing. I have no fear. I have nothing to lose and everything to gain. Nobody who knew me would have ever thought that I would have made it this far, and I have no fear what so ever.
Dana Yarbrough (Wolfe’s Publicist): What separates Ann from a lot of boxers is that she never underestimates anybody, she never underestimates her opponents, she looks at every one of them the same way. She always goes in there the same way.
AW: You never know what to expect from these fighters. I feel that I am the perfect height and weight. I told myself that Vonda Ward has to maneuver that 6’6”.
BH: Before you and Ward fought that night Vonda wanted the announcer to announce that she will be signing autographs after the fight, did that piss you off enough to motivate you?
AW: It did a bit, but what really upset me was how dare you say what you going to do to me and then say I am going to fight another person after me. Get through me first, how can you get to the top of the house without taking the first steps up the ladder. Then what really got to me was that she said I guarantee. Like she was going to beat me around for ten rounds.
BH: Is that motivation?
AW: I am such a fighter that I wanted to almost hit Vonda when we where standing there. I have drive, I am a natural fighter. Back in the day when they wouldn’t let women go to battle, they would have let me because I am a natural born fighter.
DY: I have noticed in Ann’s last four or five bouts that she has really gotten into this mode where she feels her opponents out. Ann is very intelligent and can see what she needs to do against a fighter.
AW: A lot of people don’t understand that when I stood up to Ward at the press conference two months before the press conference I noticed that the top of my head was were her chin was. So I didn’t aim at 6’6” I aimed about 6’0”. So when I trained I went to the bag and put a circle on the bag right over the top of my head and that is where I aimed at.
DY: It is funny because reporters asked Ann if she sparred with 6’6” men in preparation for Vonda Ward, and Ann was like no, why would I do that?
BH: Jackie Frazier called you out before, what are your thoughts on that?
AW: By any means necessary I don’t care who you are, I don’t care of you are Joe Frazier’s daughter or Muhammad Ali’s daughter and I don’t care of you are George Bush’s daughter, if we get ready to fight and I get paid to fight and take care of my daughter then we are going to fight.
DY: We are friends with the Frazier’s and Ann respects all the fighter’s that she fights, it has nothing to do with personally it is all business. Ann is different when she is in the ring then she is outside it.
AW: I am saying that if my Mama was here and she got in the ring to fight me then I would hit her and that is the God’s honest truth. I tell my daughter if you are going to box then stay away from my weight class.
DY: Ann and I are like sisters and I have asked Ann what would she do if I were in the ring with her and she said I’d fight you. And I said you wouldn’t hit me and she said yes I would if you were in the ring with me.
BH: Ann is there any fighter out there that you just want to fight in particular?
AW: Anybody, I don’t look at a certain fighter and call them out. Let me tell you what a lot of people do. They call out certain fighters to skip over other fighters. I will fight anybody.
BH: What do you feel would help women’s boxing?
AW: I think time if you stand the test of time you can make it. Time changes anything. But I would make it to where you had to fight whoever is at the top, one belt.
BH: What are your thoughts on Laila Ali as a fighter?
AW: Laila is feeding her family, so what can I say about her? Who am I to say anything about her?
BH: What do you feel your best quality is as a fighter?
AW: My heart. I have heard that Laila said that I am just a heavy-handed woman with heart, but what else does a boxer need? Like Cus D’Amato said, a boxer with character and a little bit of skill will rise above a better boxer and beat them. My character and my heart is what I have and my will to just live and win. I have something to really fight for; when you have nothing to fight for, what do you have? When you are fighting to pride you have nothing, or you are just fighting so people can just say that you are the best, that’s nothing.
BH: Do you feel that you get the respect from the boxing world that you should be getting?
AW: Hell no, no.
BH: Do you feel that you need a certain fighter to gain that respect?
AW: This is what makes me so damn mad, I don’t care. If Tiger Woods has a son and he can’t play golf, guess what is going to happen? His ass ain’t going to get to play. The same for Michael Jordan, if his son couldn’t play and produce the points to win, then he wouldn’t play. But in boxing, you can bullshit your way and make people really believe that you are better than everybody else. That is what pisses me off about this whole situation, all I want is what I deserve. It makes me so mad when people think that a certain person or certain people are better. Give me my damn chance. Boxing is the only sport you can bullshit in. I can’t really be who I want to be in boxing.
BH: What is that?
AW: To see if I am really the best, because I want to fight everybody, I want to know if I was the best. When I lay my head down on my pillow or tell my children that I was one of the best, I want to really know that I was one of the best. How can you bullshit yourself and say that you are the best when you haven’t fought then best, how can you look yourself in the mirror? Knowing that people will believe this shit because of your father. I am not even in Laila’s weight class and I have already came and fought everything within fifty pounds, name a man that has done it. There have been some but very few.
BH: Is there anything you want to add to this?
AW: Through Jesus Christ all things are possible. Without the fans we are nothing but for now people just call me 'that girl', they don’t even know my name. I am happy that the ones who do know me gave me a chance and look at the quality of the fighter instead of just the name.
ANN 'BROWN SUGAR' WOLFE
Professional Record 18-1 (12)
Accomplishments to date:
WIBA Junior Middleweight Title
IFBA Super Middleweight Title
WIBC Super Middleweight Title
NABA Super Middleweight Title
IBA Light Heavyweight Title
IFBA Junior Middleweight Title
I would like to thank Dana Yarbrough for setting up this interview with Ann. Ann is cool as can be and I had a great chat with her and I thank her for her time and honesty.
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