Junior welterweight Sumya "Island Girl" Anani first came to prominence in tragic circumstances in 1996 into her boxing career. In her fourth pro bout she faced novice welterweight Katie Dallam in St. Joseph, Missouri. Anani dominated the fight (against an opponent who got her pro boxing license only the day before) and won by TKO in the fourth round. The crowd encouraged Anani, who was smaller and younger to beat up her heavier opponent - while Anani punched Dallam hardly the spectators shouted: "Finish her off! Kill her!"
Courageous Dallam, badly overmatched, had fought with a bloody nose for most of the fight but suffered a hidden injury that was almost fatal. She collapsed in her dressing room after the fight, fell into a one-day coma, and required surgery for a major cranial bleed and months and months of rehabilitation! After leaving the hospital, Dallam suffered memory loss and considered suicide. Of course, she no longer fights and even can't work.
"We both stepped in the ring," Anani said. "We both made the choice and tapped gloves in the middle of the ring."
"I saw Sumya coming at me and her arms were swinging really high, like windmills, and I thought, hey, the men don't box like that," Katie said
later. She remembers nothing more of the bout.
Videotapes show that Katie never put up much of a fight. Ms. Anani broke her nose early in the first round and continued to pummel her through most of four, two-minute rounds. A lawyer hired by the Dallams told them he counted more than 150 blows to Katie's head.
"Katie is always in my thoughts," Ms. Anani said in a recent phone interview. Ms. Anani, now one of the sport's stars, holds several championship belts in various weight classes from different sanctioning bodies. "When I saw that movie, I didn't know how it was going to end and when it did, I thought, wow. What I remember about the fight is going in there scared myself, because she was so much bigger than me."
Near the end of the final round, the referee stopped the fight as Katie hung from the ropes. The referee, the ringside doctor and Katie's trainer later said that they saw nothing that led them to believe she had been injured enough to stop the fight earlier.
Stephanie, Katie's sister who watched with horror from the rear of the hall, recalls cries for blood from the crowd.
In the dressing room, Katie collapsed. Her admitting form at the hospital in St. Joseph described her as comatose, responding only to "deep painful stimuli." Subsequent surgery involved taking off the top of her skull to drain blood that had accumulated and repairing a vein that had burst deep in her brain.
Today, Katie lives on her Social Security checks and whatever family members can add. Periodic spells of despair persist, the sisters said, requiring a daily regimen of antidepressants.
Her days are filled with walks, trips to the store and her artwork, which she has embraced with renewed fervor, taking regular classes at a community college.