By Michael Goldstein
By Dennis Romero
By Sarah Fenske
By Matthew Mullins
By Patrick Range McDonald
By LA Weekly
By Dennis Romero
By Simone Wilson
At Joe Goossen's gym, the man Lucia was beating up was just a sparring partner. But at the Wild Card, in one case at least, the victim was her then-boyfriend, an actor and occasional boxer named Billy Kean. Or perhaps Kean was beating her up - it's not quite clear.
"It would go way too hard," Lucia says, referring to her sparring sessions with Kean. "He thought I was trying to prove something and I thought he was trying to hurt me - and then we would have a fight because he said I was trying to hurt him in front of his friends. It didn't work out."
"She's a phenomenal athlete," Kean tells me over the phone. "She makes all the right decisions in the ring instinctively, and she's a very good puncher. She knocked the wind out of me a couple of times." Nonetheless, Kean disputes the idea that Lucia is good enough to fight men. Behind the hard image, he says, Lucia "has a very sweet, soft side to her. She loves to get flowers, she loves being taken care of." As for their sparring sessions, Kean agrees that there were problems. "Around the gym, it caused friction because people thought I was too hard on her. Maybe so. You'd think, how can you hit your girlfriend? But the truth is, I found it extremely easy."
"What do you dislike most about boxing?" I ask Lucia one day, joining her for her post-workout meal. "The headaches," she replies, looking suddenly gloomy. "I get hit a lot in training. One night I came home and the blood was in my shoes. My towel was blood, my shirt was blood, and I thought, 'Wow, what am I doing?'"
"What are you doing?"
Lucia considers this. "Why am I boxing? Because you need to accomplish something to be heard. To be taken serious. I think that when you accomplish something yourself, when you're in the limelight, people respect you, especially if you do something that others don't do."
"How do you see a fight with Christy Martin going?"
"I imagine it being a tough fight, a good fight, a very challenging fight," Lucia replies, "but I'll win a knockout in the later rounds. That's my sense. But until I fight Christy, it's all words."
As for what Emanuel Steward told me - that Lucia could beat most of the men in her weight class - Lucia is unimpressed. "That's his opinion," she says.
"He told me he'd seen you spar with Vince Phillips, and that it was like life and death between you two."
"That's his opinion," she repeats.
"I'm very critical of myself and my performance. I try not to compare myself. I just try to improve. Sparring is not fighting. So until I fight a man my weight, I have no answer for you."
We're sitting outside a restaurant on Sunset Plaza, surrounded by lots of well-off people in expensive clothes, their voices drowned in the roar of the rush-hour traffic. The women sitting down or walking by are polished and fit, tanned and toned, in one or two cases even muscular, and they wear tank tops and sleeveless dresses to show it off. Lucia, on the other hand, is wearing yellow jeans and a yellow zippered jacket that leave nothing of her visible but her hands and face. Only rarely will she go outdoors with her arms bared. When she does, she says, she's pestered constantly by men who want to touch them or discuss them, or who feel honor-bound to express their opinion about them, pro or con. Clothes are something of a problem for Lucia anyway. The fashionable clothes she likes usually don't fit her. Her arms are too big, her back too broad. This bothers her. A while ago she stopped doing neck exercises, normal for boxers, because she felt her neck was becoming too thick. The clash between femininity and boxing bothers her too, she says. "Definitely."
On the other hand, there are plenty of people who aren't bothered by it. She dates frequently and has had a glut of marriage proposals. A couple of years ago she was offered $250,000 for a role as a supporting lead in the movie Deep Rising, but the offer was withdrawn when it was discovered that she would be fighting shortly before the film went into production. Now she is edging closer to Hollywood again. Alessandro Camon, senior V.P. of production at Pressman Films, is trying to put an independent project together that will be either the Lucia Rijker story or a fictional variation on it, with Lucia starring. Lucia, he says, is "one of a kind. She has such charisma, such tremendous confidence, and she embodies a kind of strength that women want to see onscreen. I think men want to see it, too. Her strength is sexy. It kind of transcends gender. She's a powerful individual who found her calling and went for it. There's something inspirational about that."
Another person interested in doing the Lucia Rijker story or a dramatized version thereof is Ben Myron, who produced One False Move. "When I first met her in a social situation," he says, "I was very taken with her beauty and individuality as a person. The fact that she was a champion kickboxer at the time only made her more fascinating." Shortly after their first meeting, Myron watched Lucia's debut as a boxer (against Melinda Robinson) on Spanish television - and was stunned. "The transformation was chilling. She just about took Melinda Robinson's head off, and the TV station kept replaying the knockout over and over. She was an animal. There was just this amazing contradiction between the person I'd had dinner with and the person she became in the ring. I kept thinking, How can she hurt anybody? And how can anybody hurt her? She's a walking contradiction."
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