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Shelby Walker - Remembering another Female Boxer
Posted on 12.13.2006 at 10:40 AM

Shelby Walker - Remembering another Female Boxer

By Joe York
Ring Announcer

The late Shelby Walker with Sugar Ray Leonard

Friday November 17th’s “Night of Champions” card, presented by Octavius James/One In A Million, Inc, in association with 8 Count Productions will be a historic card to announce at the Radisson Hotel at Star Plaza in Merrillville, Indiana. The main event features, for the first time in the region, the I. N. B. A. Super Lightweight Women’s Championship between "Merciless" Mary McGee (7-0, 4 KO's) Of Gary, IN battling Rita "La Guera" Figueroa (9-0, 3 KO's) Of Chicago, IL. A special championship main event that, just like I always announce before a Women’s fight, “is just for the Ladies.”

Speaking of ladies, I keep thinking about another female boxer that also fought in Merrillville at the Radisson, named Shelby “Girl” Walker. Shelby last fought on an Octavius James/ One In A Million, Inc. card on October 17, 2003, avenging her 1st career loss with a majority decision victory that night. Shelby savored victory and hated defeat. She should have held her head high, because she lost to current Women’s I.B.A. World Welterweight Champion Terri Blair.

I had the honor of announcing Shelby’s professional debut a little over a year earlier in Indianapolis. Her opponent was Christmas Davis, who also debuted that evening Shelby frustrated Davis time after time with straight jabs and body blows. In the 2nd round, Davis’ hair became unbraided from the headshots she received courtesy of a few trademarked overhand rights from Shelby. Davis awkwardly grasped her hair and yanked the braids out of the way…and off her head! Yes folks, Davis tore her weave off during her fight and tossed it in the center of the ring. Referee Victor Kakone called time so he could return the hairpiece to Davis’ corner. When the fight resumed, Shelby was relentless and won via TKO at the 36 second mark of the round. I never saw someone as happy in victory as “ShelbyGirl” was that day. It was quite a contrast from her loss to Blair the following year.

Along with boxing, Shelby trained as a pioneer in Women’s’ Mixed Martial Arts. Her crowning moment occurred in May of 2003 when she knocked out Angela Wilson with a swift right hand in just 5 seconds! That record still stands today as the quickest KO in the history of Women’s MMA. I was so impressed by her, I named of my now-departed cats after Shelby. Her heart and passion showed on the outside. What Shelby hid away from all of us was a lot of personal demons.

Shelby Walker fought around the world, with 3 title fights in her 3+ years as a professional boxer. She trained with Buddy McGirt and Eddie Mustafa Muhammed when she fought Mia St. John on April 1, 2006. She fought bravely, but lost by TKO at the end of the 3rd round in what was her final boxing match.

On September 24, 2006 Shelby “Girl” Walker succumbed to those hidden personal demons and died from what has been described as an overdose of pain medication. She was an Army veteran. She is survived by her young son, her mother, step-father, father, a sister, 3 brothers and a step-sister. She was 31 years old. My heart goes out to her family, friends, fans and camp.

Being a Professional Boxing Ring Announcer, I’ve met a lot of people in this business over the years. Like I said previously, some people you just don’t forget. You can’t forget a fighter, a person or a woman like Shelby Walker. She fought like a lion in the ring, but outside the ropes, she was the life of the party. Just the kindest soul you would encounter. She was a beautiful woman, one that had model-type attractiveness. She was pretty, yet not conceited, which added to her genuine inner beauty. Simply put, she was a knockout that could knock you out! Her passion and heart showed throughout her MMA and professional boxing careers. She was respected by all who opposed her in the ring and by people like me who admired her talent & passion for the sport. I am honored to have been there, many times reading the scorecards with Shelby victorious. I’ll miss her.

This Friday at the “Night of Champions” at the Radisson Hotel in Merrillville, I’ll be announcing a great card with that historic main event. I think Shelby “Girl” Walker will be proudly watching from above, cheering on both women challenging for the championship. I hope she knows that she helped pave the way for them. My image of Heaven is a sold-out sports arena, with a boxing ring in the middle of the venue. Boxing legends are there, getting ready in their dressing rooms for their upcoming fights.

Somewhere up there “ShelbyGirl” is also gloving up, still bragging about her 5 second KO.
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