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2014 INDUCTEE
 

BONNIE CANINO

5'6" Bonnie "The Cobra" Canino is a featherweight from Florida who retired from competition in October 1999 after a career as a kickboxer and boxer that spanned sixteen years.

She was born in Miami and grew up in Broward County. She played basketball for state champion Coral Springs in the late 1970ís.   In 1980, she began to study martial arts and earned black belts in Chinese Kempo, Tae Kwon Do and Juai Kung Karbo Kung Fu.

As a kickboxer, she amassed a 28-4 record, winning the WKA and KICK world championships, and severely testing Kathy Long and Britain's Lisa Howarth in world title matches. She is one of the very few women to be still standing at the end of a kickboxing battle with Lucia Rijker.

Her swarming, smothering style and excellent physical condition gave Kathy Long fits in their 12-round title bout in 1990. Long was clearly rattled and barely defeated Canino with a stirring comeback in the later rounds.

Bonnie Canino"Kickboxing allowed us to get in the ring and compete at a time when boxing was still barred to us," she says. "I could get mainline kickboxing fights then, but I was still doing gym fights in boxing because the doors were closed to us."

As a professional boxer Bonnie held both the WIBF and IFBA featherweight world titles.

Her first pro boxing bout was on January 16, 1996 in Fort Lauderdale. Bonnie KO'd April Griffith in the first round.

On November 20, 1996 she TKO'd Tina Speakman in the second round. Three days later, in Homestead, Florida she won a four-round decision over Sue Chase of Ohio, dropping Chase to 0-7 as a pro boxer.

On March 2, 1997 in New Orleans, Louisiana she lost the WIBF Featherweight belt by a 10-round unanimous decision to the hard-hitting Irish boxer Deirdre Gogarty whose stirring performance against Christy Martin the year before had helped to bring women's pro boxing back into the media spotlight.  Bonnie used a clutch-and-grab style against the Irish star who at the time was a new addition to Don King's promotional stable. Using tactics more reminiscent of Muay Thai boxing, Canino appeared to be trying to throw Gogarty through the ring ropes at one point in a fight that was not one of her best performances.

Bonnie also suffered a kickboxing defeat at the hands of Bridgett "Baby Doll" Riley, in a rematch of an earlier encounter that she had won.

Bonnie returned to the pro boxing ring with a different game plan to contend for the IFBA featherweight title against "Battling" Beverly Szymanski on August 2, 1997 in Biloxi, Mississippi.
Bonnie dominated the early rounds with classic outside hit-and-move tactics behind a pinpoint jab. Szymanski came back hard once she had figured out Bonnie's southpaw style and the jab, and began working Bonnie's body to set up shots to the head. But Bonnie regained control and worked the jab again in the final rounds to take a unanimous decision and the IFBA title. Szymanski fell to 3-3 (2 KO) with the loss.

This fight showed that Bonnie still had some different looks to show the world of women's boxing! 

On October 24, 1997 in Lula, Mississippi, Bonnie won a six-round split decision over veteran and fellow Florida resident Cora Webber, who had been boxing professionally since 1986.

Bonnie suffered a setback (and an even rarer loss by stoppage) when Chevelle Hallback of Tampa, Florida  won the WIBF Intercontinental Super Featherweight Championship by TKO'ing her on March 6, 1998 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Bonnie retired after the sixth round after being cut over the right eye and on the left eyelid by accidental head butts, with Hallback leading on the scorecards.

Bonnie (125 lbs) bounced back well from this loss on June 26, 1998 in Las Vegas by retaining the IFBA featherweight title with a unanimous 10-round decision over Canada's  Nora Daigle (123 lbs). Daigle fell to 4-2-1 (2 KO) with this loss.

On August 21, 1998 at the Belle Casino in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Bonnie weighed in at 126 lbs and won a six-round unanimous decision over Gloria Ramirez (131 lbs) of Sunland Park, New Mexico. Ramirez was looking to knock Canino out in this one, and wobbled Bonnie early in the third. Canino's experience showed as she controlled the last half of the fight to earn a (58-56, 58-56, 59-56) decision.

On September 12, 1998 in Miami, Florida, Bonnie won a first-round KO over Shakurah Witherspoon of Williamsport, Pennsylvania, who fell to  2-3-1 (1 KO) with the loss.

On September 16, 1998 at the Boomtown Casino in New Orleans, Louisiana, Bonnie won her second bout in four days with an 8-round unanimous decision over Sue Chase of Ohio.

On March 25, 1999 at the Pontchartrain Center in New Orleans, Louisiana, Bonnie advanced her pro record to 14-2 with a TKO at 0:23 in the first round over Gina Davis of Erie, Pennsylvania, who fell to 1-4.

On May 27, 1999 at the Gold Strike Casino in Tunica, Mississippi, Bonnie lost an eight-round unanimous decision to one of women's pro boxing's most promising newcomers, 1998/1997 US national amateur 125-lb champion Alicia Ashley of Westbury, New York. Ashley was coming off a tough loss to undefeated Doris Hackl in Canada only a week earlier and moved her own record to 2-1 with this win over the veteran Canino.

On September 17, 1999 in Panama City, Panama, Bonnie moved her pro boxing record to 15-3 with a first-round KO of Natasha Abdul.
 


In October 1999, she announced that she would retire from competition.

She returned to the pro ring at short notice on June 4, 2004 at Chinook Winds Casino and Convention Center in Lincoln City, Oregon, where she weighed in at 131 lbs and lost by a fourth-round TKO to IBA Lightweight champion Chevelle Hallback (132 lbs). This match was made on short notice to replace a scratched bout. Canino had gone to Lincoln City as trainer for Yvonne Reis on a card the previous day, and agreed to the rematch with Hallback when no other opponent could be found. Canino tried to stymie Hallback, who sometimes trains in Bonnie's Florida gym, with her long jab ... but this wasn't to enough to hold off Chevelle's attack and the bout was stopped at 1:05 in the fourth. Hallback improved to 21-4-1 (10 KO) with the win while Canino fell to 15-4 (5 KO).

Asked if she had any regrets about her fighting career, Bonnie replied: "Not a one. I wanted to be in this atmosphere, I wanted to eat it, I wanted to breathe it, and I got there. Fifteen years later I've been in 39 professional competitions and I've been all over the world."

Bonnie Canino is now an executive with U.S. #1 Fitness based in Dania, Florida and is considering a role as a boxing and kickboxing promoter. She organized an amateur all-women's boxing tournament on December 4, 1998 at the Hollywood (Florida) National Guard Armory and the USA Boxing Women's National Championships in Fort Lauderdale, Florida in July 2003. Her protege Ada Velez from Puerto Rico won the IBA Bantamweight title by defeating Canada's Kathy Williams in January 2001.




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