World Boxing Champion, Tori Shonuff Nelson to Be Inducted in The Womans Boxing Hall of Fame in 2022!
Updated: Feb 1, 2022
All Photo by: Santiago Gonzalez
American Pro Boxer, "Tori Shonuff Nelson is a former three-weight world champion. She held the WBC female middleweight title in 2011 and in 2012, the WIBA middleweight title. In 2013 and 2014, the WIBA welterweight and in 2016, the WIBA super middleweight title. As of September 2020, the BoxRec ranked her as the" 3rd best active female middleweight." How cool is that! There's also a surprise in this interview but don't want to give it away just yet. You'll have to read it to find out what it is.
Speaking with the legendary boxing champion, Tori Nelson was super inspiring! Tori is a blessing to the world! I laughed throughout the entire interview! Tori is so down to earth that I felt like I was talking to my sister. With all her accolades, she could have the “big head”, but she doesn’t. Not only is she super humble, but she has no problem letting the world know that God is the reason for her success. For that reason alone, she gets a standing ovation! I think it’s amazing when someone of her status possesses humility. It's amazing to see how someone can go through all that she’s been through and still manage to persevere. With that being said, I don’t want to give it all away. I’ll let her tell you.
Hello Tori, how are you?
That's wonderful, I feel blessed as well. In fact, it's an honor to speak with such an amazing blessing and inspiration as yourself. I am so proud of you!
I mean, I’m literally speaking with a future legend! I feel so blessed to speak with such a positive role model!
I feel blessed and honored to speak with you today, so thank you!
Thank you! Ok, Tori, let’s chat.
Let’s do it.
I’ve seen YouTube videos of you knocking people out! I was screaming at the TV saying, get um girl! Let’s talk about that! (laughs)
Oh yes! (laughs)
They all fall down when you come around! They were flying like shrapnel! You’re awesome! Love it!
Let's talk about home life and what inspired you to become a female boxer?
Okay, I'm from Chase City Virginia. It’s on the North Carolina line. I'm the only girl of three boys, so that's how I learned to fight. My brothers and I played rough. Because I was a baby, I had to fight all the time. My brothers helped raise me because my mom was a hard-working single parent doing her best to provide for us. So, one of the things that my brothers taught me was to punch then ask questions later.
So, I said, I’m good at that, so let’s get it! Yes! (laughs) Fast forward, I got married and moved to Northern Virginia (the DC area) to where I reside now.
What was the pivotal moment that led you to become a fighter?
At that time, I had two children and I was over my ideal weight. I really wanted to lose weight, so I spoke to my ex-husband about it, who was also a fighter in the military, and he suggested that I utilize boxing to accomplish my weight loss goal. So, I agreed.
Oh yes! I was so excited! So, in 2007, he took me to a gym in Ashburn and that's when my 12-year boxing career began. What was interesting is that the man who owned the gym later became my boxing coach. One day he asked me what I wanted out of this? I told him that I was there to lose weight. Then he said, if he saw something different in me, would I compete? I'd said, “for free, no!”
I know that’s right!
I told him, if he paid me, I would do it! I went on to say, what I won't do is take punches to my face for free! I did enough of that being raised around bullies. You're fighting all the time! So, after I agreed to his proposition, I began to train. I trained for quite a while before I went amateur. Once I hit that point, he asked me would I like to do my first fight? I said, OK, let's do it! I was around 29 years old when I began my professional career.
So, what happened at the amateur level? Did you beat all of them up? (laughs)
Yes, I did. I beat them all! I won all my amateur fights until I got to the Nationals.
What happened at the Nationals?
Before I go any further, I have to say, I didn’t win the fight but, I know I beat that girl!
Photo by: Yvette Gagnon
Although they didn't officially call my win, this is how I know that I won that fight. She had to forfeit the next day because I beat her so badly! Gina, she couldn't even fight the next fight!
I'm sure she was good is done!
Yes! I said what! You could have given that to me because I was just fine. That's boxing for you. (laughs) My coach then asked me what was it that I wanted to do because at that point I held the "Golden Glove Champion" for about three to four years straight.
I'm so proud of you! Yes!
Thank you! Yes! After that, is when my professional boxing career began. Not only that, but that's where the fun began! Yes!
This story is getting so good! Let me grab my popcorn and red vines!
It was amazing! I also began traveling. I remember the very first fight I had was against the number one girl in the United States. She was a big girl! Ooh child she was big! Let me tell you! But I beat that girl! They couldn't give me a loss, but they did give me a draw. That ticked me off! What you won't do is rob me! So now, the Tori that my brothers raised was determined to fight her again!
So, my coach had to explain to me what they meant by them calling it a draw. He said I beat her, but they couldn't give me the win because it was my first fight. See, at the time she was number one, so they felt that it didn’t look good for them,
That’s ok, I’m going to tell you what I did. I told them to set her up because I was ready to fight her again and fight again, we did. What was interesting is that the news was supposed to do a big story on her. So, she had a lot of press surrounding her on that day.
So, what happened?
They couldn't even put the story together because I beat her up! (laughs)
I feel like giving you a standing ovation right now! (laughs) I feel like giving you a standing ovation right now! Is awesome. It's almost like I'm at the fight right now! (laughs) let me go get some more popcorn!
Oh yes, yes, I did! In fact, that happened twice. The other girl was from New York. Her name is Alicia Napoleon. She brought an entire camera crew with her to record her boxing journey for a documentary. She had all that! She talked trash the entire time! She was saying she was going to win the fight and so on. She got in the ring and got beat up again Gina!
After all that drama?
Yes, after all that!
Girl let me keep eating my popcorn!
Yes girl! They threw all the footage of her away and asked to do a story about me. I thought to myself, get out of here! You did all of that for your girl, and just because she lost, you want to come my way? I was like no! That's OK, I'm good. I wasn't going to let them use me. No!
I hear you! Those are the type of people that are here today and gone tomorrow. They only want to be around those who are on the winning team. That's not loyalty. When you're loyal to someone, you're there with them through thick and thin, the ups and downs, and the good and bad times. You made the right choice. I'm proud of you!
Thank you! Yes! So, I fought for the WBC belt in Trinidad. I was so excited to fly to Trinidad! Now, I will say that it was different, but the people loved me to death. The entire time I was there they called me Joe Frazier. By the way, I love Joe Frazier! He is my favorite #1 fighter. When they called me Joe Frazier, I was feeling myself! (laughter) (laughter) So the woman I fought was from the Mayweather team. I thought to myself. Here we go with the foolishness, but I didn't let it faze me. So, they didn't like my coach because he was Caucasian. I later found out that a lot of Trinidadians don't like Caucasian people. They couldn't stand him, they wanted to kill him. So, I fought the girl and won.
During the fight, they cheated and did a lot of unscrupulous things, but after doing all that, I still won. So, I beat the girl up and brought the WBC belt home. But let me tell you Gina, they wanted to kill us. My coach waited until we got into the dressing room to tell me this news.
He told me that a woman whispered in his ear that someone was planning to kill us and that we had to leave and go to the airport on that night. He said we have to go back to the hotel, get our stuff and leave because they're going to kill us.
Oh no, what a frightening experience!
I said you’ve got to be kidding me! I couldn’t believe it! What was even crazier was that they didn't want to take us back to the hotel from the venue. It was a mess!
So, God protected us. He sent this man to take us to the airport. He was afraid, but he did it. God bless that man! God bless his heart! So, we stayed the entire night at the airport. We stayed there all night long by ourselves.
I'm sure that it was even difficult to sleep there when you both had to be on the lookout the entire evening.
Yes. But God was with us. So, I brought the WBC belt home and that's a wrap. After that, Mayweather’s team called informing us that they had dropped the girl they had and wanted me instead.
Wow! Isn’t that crazy how things turn around so Isn’t that crazy how things turn around so unexpectedly? That’s God's favor in your life.
Yes! My coach told me that it was up to me to make that choice. Either way, he would not be upset with me. I told him no. The grass is not always greener on the other side. I told him. “You believed in me when I was nothing! You believed in me, trained me, and helped me to become what I am today. I was with you from day one. You are the one who helped me to become a pro.” With them, the minute I get an injury, they'll put me on the shelf and throw me to the side. They won't care anything about me. The money looked great, but money is not everything. So, I took the option to stay with the person who was there for me from the beginning. I said no to their offer, and I don't regret it.
Yes! Would have done the same thing. I'm extremely proud of you!
As a result of that, my entire boxing career was a struggle. We had to scratch just to get where we needed to go. I even fought for free and paid people to get on cards. That's unheard of. The funding of my career came out of my coaches and promoters’ pockets and even my own. We did whatever we had to do because I loved the sport. See, If I had signed with the Mayweather team, I wouldn't have had to struggle. But I was different in the sense that I fight, because of my love for the sport. It’s not about the money for me. But you know what Gina? God always wins in the end.
Yes, say it again!
So, I became a multi-time world champion. I hold 13 belts in four to five different weight classes. But I don't have the publicity many other world champions have because I’m a private person. I'm not the type of person that puts myself out there on social media flaunting my body around and showing off. First and foremost, I'm a child of God and I'm a mother. I have kids to raise, and I want to be the best example I can be to them.
Furthermore, I didn’t have time for that. I didn't have time to solicit followers and publicity. While others are out flaunting themselves on social media, I was at home raising my children. Once again, I fought because I loved the sport. And what's even more amazing is that God blessed me to the point that I never sustained any serious injuries. I was fine the entire time. All I did was follow God’s will in my life, and at the end of the day, I prevailed.
Yes, by following God’s will, you can never go wrong.
That’s the truth. I'm going to tell you something that no one else knows. This news is hot off the press!
Do I need to get some more popcorn and red vines?