Courtesy Kali Reis
Despite being a world champion, boxer Kali Reis is hardly a household name. But she's hoping the popularity of women's boxing increases so she can at least start making some decent money from her bouts.
Reis, a 28-year-old who has Cherokee, Nipmuc and Seaconke Wampanoag ancestry, captured the women's International Boxing Association (IBA) middleweight crown this past month in Bermuda.
Reis, who lives in Providence, Rhode Island, defeated Teresa Perrozi, a New Hampshire native who now lives in Bermuda, in the bout for the vacant belt, which was staged Nov. 21.
Reis improved her pro record to 7-3-1 with a technical knockout in the third round. Perozzi's mark fell to 9-5-1.
"I dropped her in the first round, I dropped her in the second round, and they finally stopped it in the third round," Reis told ICTMN of her match against Perozzi.
Despite winning the IBA crown, Reis did not pocket tons of cash. In fact, she only received $3,800 for that fight. This marked the most money she's made in a pro match. She's obviously hoping more lucrative paydays are in her future. "I really do hope so," she said. "But women's boxing needs to be televised more and it needs somebody like Floyd Mayweather to help out and put women's boxing on the map." That way she would be able to focus solely on her career. These days she supplements her boxing earnings by fixing motorcycles in a shop.
Though it is still a world title, Reis' IBA belt is not as prestigious as some others. The World Boxing Council (WBC), World Boxing Organization (WBO), World Boxing Association (WBA) and International Boxing Federation (IBF) belts are more sought after. Reis is hoping to eventually win championships from all these organizations. "I want to unify all the belts, and then go back and fight as a welterweight," said Reis, whose nickname is K.O., as in knock out.
Reis's bout against Perrozi marked the first time she fought as a middleweight. She accepted the fight knowing she needed to put on about 15 pounds. "I feel real comfortable at this weight now," she said.
Reis is hoping to capture another belt, as early as next month. Though no details have been finalized, Reis said plans are in the works to have her fight for the vacant and lesser-known Universal Boxing Federation middleweight belt. She said there are talks to stage that fight in Connecticut, possibly in January.
She'll also be required to put her IBA belt on the line at some point in 2015.
"I don't know when it's going to be but I think I have 6-8 months to defend it," she said.
Reis had also fought for another title a year ago. But Virginia's Tori Nelson defended her Women's International Boxing Association crown with a unanimous decision (in a November 2013 bout staged in Maryland).
For Reis, that 10-round bout marked her comeback into the ring following a one-and-a-half year layoff, after she was injured in a motorcycle accident. Reis suffered a torn meniscus as well as some other bumps and bruises in the mishap.
After competing in more than a dozen sanctioned and unsanctioned matches as an amateur, Reis turned pro in 2008. But she only had one bout in each of her first three years in the professional ranks. "I haven't been as busy as I wanted to be," she said.
And now that she's keen on adding various world belts to her resume, Reis is not quite sure how many more years she'll remain in the sport.
"I'll keep going until the Creator says I'm done," she said.
Kali Reis can be followed through a Facebook fan page at K-O - Kali Reis or on Twitter @KO_moc86.