Tina Rupprecht: “We’re Doing This All On Our Own.”
By Chris Akers
While becoming a world champion in professional boxing can bring prestige within the division a boxer competes in, that prestige does not always translate to financial success. Some weight classes are traditionally more lucrative and more fan-friendly than others.
This is especially true for the lighter-weight divisions. While there are weight classes below featherweight that have a lot of attention on them due to the depth of world class talent they have (the men’s super-flyweight division being a case in point), other divisions such as minimumweight struggle to obtain television exposure that world class boxers in heavier weight divisions may take for granted.
It is in the latter weight division that Tina Rupprecht is the WBC champion, a title she won in June 2018. Although she has been champion for three years, her next title defence is scheduled for July 17th, she is still in the position of having to Crowdfund for the expenses that fight will entail.
“I don’t have a promoter, one of the big ones. So we’re doing this all on our own,” says Rupprecht via Zoom, who goes by the moniker of ‘Tiny’ Tina. “At the moment it’s very hard to find sponsors as you might imagine. Therefore, we started this campaign to finance the fight because it’s also expensive. It’s about 20,000 euros. My opponent, my world title, officials, all the things together. That’s about the amount and that’s the reason we started this. I’m independent, but sometimes it’s very hard to be independent.”
Having to independently fund her world title expenses wasn’t something she imagined when she started boxing in her mid-teens. Yet initially boxing was not her first choice of sport at that time.
“I started with kickboxing when I was 12, but I didn’t do it for a long time. Maybe a year. I was always doing semi-contact, which is point finding. That was not my thing and I always wanted to punch hard and go in and fight. I recognised that boxing fits better to be and I love it a lot more. I changed to that after one year of kickboxing and had my first boxing fight at the age of 15.”
As an amateur, she won the German title – twice as a junior and twice in the seniors – as well as enter the European amateur youth championships. It was with a record of 25 wins from 30 fights that she decided to turn pro.
As someone who fights at minimumweight, because of its lack of depth, it can be hard to get sparring and opponents to fight against.
“It’s not easy, especially in Germany there are fewer women in my weight category, especially women who are on a high level,” she explains. “Therefore it’s hard to find partners for preparation for my world championships.
“Over the years I now have a network with women and we also have good contacts aboard. For example in Ukraine and Russia. Sometimes they come here for sparring or I go there. It’s always a lot of organise to find partners that fit and fit for the opponent.”
So Rupprecht’s next fight is against Katia Gutierrez, her mandatory and former holder of the WBC, IBF, and WBO titles at various stages over the last decade. By the time she gets into the ring, it will be over 18 months since Rupprecht last fought in the ring, for reasons which are now obvious.
“There were times where it was really hard to keep the motivation because you always need a goal. I’m so happy to have a goal again. I’m always in training. Not always at the same intensity but always in training.
“Thank God my sponsors are with me through Corona. I’m so happy to fight in July and also fight a very good opponent in Katia. She was also the IBF champion for a few years. It will be a great fight. She’s a strong fighter. Very experienced and I’m looking forward to that ring feeling again.”
A sign that her status as a world champion has not translated to her becoming more well known, is in the decline in popularity of boxing in Germany over the last few years. From known world champions in the 1990s and early 2000s such as Sven Ottke and Felix Strum to boxers the calibre of the Klitschko brothers and Arthur Abraham basing themselves in the country, Germany does not seem to be a European powerhouse of boxing as it once was.
“At the time as you say, it was popular. But I think one reason is that official TV contracts were all broken and the public didn’t show that much interest. It’s not a national sport here in Germany. It’s mainly football and football! I hope it’s getting better again and people are more interested, and there is more interest from the media. I want to make boxing more popular again, especially women’s boxing in Germany.”
Providing she beats Gutierrez, what is the next step that Rupprecht would like to achieve?
“For me, the highest you can achieve in professional boxing is to unify the titles. Now I have got the WBC hopefully this will be the next step for sure. I’m open to fighting with Estrada (WBA champion), to fight with Tada (WBO champion). They are all great fighters and I love to mix with the best.”
If anyone would like to contribute to Tina’s funding of her next world title fight, here is the link to her crowdfunding page: