Meet Terri Moss, Boxing Hall of Famer, Who Didn’t Turn Pro Until Her Late ’30s
Two-time women’s champion boxer Teri “The Boss” Moss pounded her way into the International Women’s Boxing Hall of Fame on a series of punishing punches.
But what makes her story hit like a haymaker is the fact that she didn’t even begin her career until she was 36.
The lead-up to that first match could have been taken from a film noir plot. While raising a young family in Atlanta, Moss worked as a campus police officer at the University of Georgia (where she also landed a bachelor’s degree). She eventually transitioned that into a career in local law enforcement, doing narcotics investigations. “It was a pretty interesting job,” she says. “I worked undercover, and we did search warrants … I liked to work behind the scenes and figure out who did what and go after them that way,” she explains of the job. She particularly enjoyed sting operations.
During that period, she also turned into quite the jock. “I like to tell people that when Olivia Newton-John was getting physical, so was I: I went through all those fad workouts, back when going to a place like LA Fitness meant you were spending $2,000 a year,” she says. She even dabbled in triathlons. Along the way, she discovered boxing.
Against all odds, she started dreaming about turning pro at age 34, despite the fact that she had been suffering from Hepatitis C and considered too old to start a professional sports career.
Moss told the Huffington Post that “… when I decided to box competitively my trainer told me that I would never do it professionally because of the Hep C, and I was too old to go into the amateurs. I was pretty devastated[.]” She didn’t listen. Two years later she strapped on boxing gloves, stepped in the ring, and never looked back.
She took it on the chin at first, losing her debut on February 2002 in Boston against the formidable Wendy Sprowl, as well as her following two matches. From that point, however, she won her next three consecutive bouts.
Then there was the 2005 fight in Hungary, when a wayward shoulder broke Moss’s nose and she, in her own words, bled “like a stuffed pig.” (Part of that was due to her cornerman not having the wherewithal to stanch the bleeding.) “When you’re fighting, it’s rare that you feel a punch that you really feel like, ‘That hurt,'” she explains. “And for a lady to just get in there and throw punches like that? She’s already on a different level; she’s not on a regular plain,” Moss says.
While winning the Women’s International Boxing Federation’s World Straw-weight title on May 10, 2007, at the age of 41 (see above), proved the pinnacle of a Hall of Fame career, the more career-defining moment came during Moss’ first year in the ring. That’s when she faced five-foot, 100-pound Nina “The Bomb” Ahlin, a former Atlanta Falcons cheerleader, whom Moss had admired long before she went pro.
“I went to a boxing match—one of those Fight Night shows,” she remembers of the national franchise that traveled the country doing black-tie charity events, and featuring boxing and other forms of entertainment. “I saw [Ahlin] fighting at one, and she had this whole entourage … she was so beautiful. A beautiful young model that was a cheerleader … and I hated her right then,” says Moss, matter-of-factly. “I was like, I hate you and I want to fight you.”
She finally got her chance to do just that on September 13, 2003, on her home turf in Atlanta. Standing toe-to-toe with Ahlin, the ref between them, she remembered thinking, “We’re the same size.” And then Moss gave the “beautiful young model” a pounding, winning by split decision.
By the time she hung up her gloves, Moss had amassed a career record of 9-9 with three KO’s, landed that championship belt (along with a second mini flyweight belt from the Women’s International Boxing Association), and was inducted into the International Women’s Boxing Hall of Fame in 2015.
Moss now runs her own gym, Buckhead Fight Club, in Atlanta, where she tells us she trains a lot more men than women—and at least one kid. “I see that tenacity in some of my fighters that reminds me of me,” she explains.
Moss also founded Atlanta Corporate Fight Night in 2010, where she finds male and female suits from the white-collar business world; auditions them; puts them through a rigorous 10-week training regimen; puts them in front of the press; makes them do photo shoots; and finally, pits them against each other in a well-attended boxing match. The catch? They have to raise money for charity.
“When it comes to boxing, it’s just the Gentleman’s Sport,” she says. “We all know what it takes to be in [the ring]; it doesn’t matter if you’ve been in there three weeks or three years or 30 years, we all look at each other the same,” she says. “When it comes to the women in the sport, we really just want to be another fighter.”
—Will Levith for RealClearLife