Regina Halmich: “I have paid all the bills”

The long-time world champion talks about career hurdles, an apology from Henry Maske – and ways out of the German boxing crisis.

56 fights, 54 victories, undefeated world champion for twelve years: Regina Halmich is one of the greatest in German boxing. The now 47-year-old was one of the leading figures of the boxing boom at the turn of the millennium, when broadcasts on public broadcasters and RTL achieved ratings in the millions and Halmich, Henry Maske and Wladimir and Vitali Klitschko became international stars of the sport. And: Halmich achieved fame and sporting success at a time when the term “gender equality” in sport – especially in boxing – was still a foreign word.

That was long ago. German boxing is lacking for both women and men; big fights, including those on free TV, have been missing for years. Internationally, however, women’s boxing in particular has become steadily more popular, and the next mega fight awaits men with the upcoming heavyweight duel between Tyson Fury and Alexander Usyk.

Halmich is still an attentive observer of sport today – and takes a critical view of developments. The Karlsruhe native appeared to be in a good mood for the interview with the t-online editorial team. A conversation about tough fights behind the scenes, about an apology from Henry Maske – and about ways out of the German boxing crisis.

t-online: Regina Halmich, in the USA and Great Britain women’s fights are often the attraction of boxing events today – the American Claressa Shields or the Irish Katie Taylor collect millions in purses. Do you see yourself as a trailblazer?

Regina Halmich: Well, I’ll be honest: If I hadn’t earned the good money in my last fights, I would probably say today: I did the preparatory work and now they’re taking the cake (laughs). But since I have also created a financial cushion and am doing well, life is of course better. I also have to say: Women still have a hard time today, and I really don’t begrudge every cent for anyone who earns millions. Envy was never an option for me.

You ended your great career in 2007. How has women’s boxing developed since then?

The girls put on a huge show and market themselves, either they’re super sexy – or they mess around like Shields and attract attention. In terms of sport, it has become even more athletic and technically more demanding. And it has grown, above all, in breadth. Shortly before the end of my career, the competition became greater for me. But now – this is really awesome boxing.

The question arises: Would it be more difficult for you today than it was then?

These are theoretical questions. Nuances can make a difference. With the Universum boxing stable we were already number one in Europe. I would also have other sparring partners. During my playing days, they were flown in from everywhere when I said: I saw one and I want to train with her. They made good money doing it. With the right financial resources you can do a lot. I would also develop further today.

There is currently speculation about a comeback by Mike Tyson, now 57, and other greats have also returned from time to time. Have you never been tempted to return?

No, I have paid all the bills. The boxer who gave me my only defeat (the American Yvonne Trevino, editor’s note) received several offers and rejected them all. That’s just how it is.

But they still remained connected to boxing.

I advise a few boxers. But I do that privately and I’m happy to give tips, for example on contract negotiations. I am in contact with Nina Meinke (Berlin featherweight boxer, editor’s note), who will compete against superstar Amanda Serrano in Puerto Rico on Sunday night. But to be honest: I no longer want to earn my money in this male-dominated world – and it is still a male-dominated world. Of course my passion will always remain. But I don’t want to bother with it anymore.