The Awakening Outstanding Contribution Award (AOCA) is our way of highlighting female martial artists that have played huge roles in raising awareness across the globe for the female fight community. Each of these women have different stories and have helped pave the way for those that come after them. These notable female athletes are listed in alphabetical order.
An important figure in Boxing, during her career Michele helped raise public awareness of female fighters, and their ability to become just as technical as their male counterparts. Michele was unbeaten and holds an impressive record of 21-0 (12 KO). Although not officially retired, should she do so she would become one of the handful of Boxers to join Rocky Marciano in being an undefeated World Champion. She trained at a time where facilities weren’t available for female fighters, and she made do with what she could in someone's garage.
Marcela made her debut in a media storm of controversy, due to decisions made by promoters. Effectively, we feel that in the end this controversy helped raise awareness. This is by no means the only reason she received the AOCA. She has a long and incredible record and has faced some of the worlds toughest opponents. She also made Boxing history, taking part in the first Women's fight to be sanctioned by the Argentine Boxing Commission. Last but not least, as a youngster she became 17 x South American Karate Champion.
Laila is potentially our most contentious awardee of the AOCA, however we stand by our decision firmly. Why is it contentious? Laila has been accused by some of avoiding some fights throughout her Boxing career. Although we do not approve if this is the case, Laila has an impressive record of 24-0 (21 KO), and has fought some very tough opponents. As daughter of Muhammad Ali, her career has been closely followed and scrutinized, but there can be no doubt that her skill, heritage, looks and controversy have helped the industry.
Although Gina had a short-lived fighting career, she ultimately created a platform for female fighters to spring from. A combination of excellent technique and movie-star looks, Gina turned the media world on to Women's Mixed Martial Arts. Before Gina, the MMA world was uninterested in female competitors, and she proved them all wrong by becoming a catalyst to a movement. After her short fight career, she was snapped up by Hollywood where she continues to inspire. Gina was a pioneer.
Jane was the first officially licensed female Boxer in Britain in 1998. Initially she was refused a professional licence by the British Boxing Board of Control on the grounds of being a woman, they claimed PMS made women too unstable. Jane fought back claiming sexual discrimination and ended up getting the decision over turned. This was a historical turning point for British female fighting. In 2007 she was appointed a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) by Queen Elizabeth II.
Megumi has played a cherished role in pioneering women’s martial arts and women in MMA. Her incredible accomplishments within martial arts has inspired women in her home country of Japan, and around the world. In a career that stretches across Judo, Sambo, BJJ, Shootboxing and MMA competitions, and includes two Black Belts, Megumi has made a name for herself as one of the best female fighters in the world. At the time of writing she holds the longest win-streak in women’s MMA.
One of the most recognized female Boxers, Chevelle has faced some of the very toughest opponents. Her fight history includes a who's who of female boxing. However, this is not the reason she earned the AOCA, it is for the adversity that she battled through. During her early career many Boxing promoters were not willing to include her on shows, claiming that her appearance would not sell tickets. Chevelle continued regardless and has been an asset to the female fight community.
Holly has achieved great success in competing. She is an 18 x World Champion in three different Boxing divisions and is regarded as one of the very best female Boxers of all time. Her career has played a huge part in opening the eyes of those that wrongly consider female Boxers as non-serious, for this she deserved the AOCA. In 2011, Holly made a successful transition into MMA, and in turn the UFC where she’s become a household name.
A lady that is universally loved around the world and inspires countless fighters both male and female. Julie's great Muay Thai record of 47-9-1 against the worlds toughest opponents, has etched her name into the annuls of history as a true great. Although fittingly dubbed the "The Queen of Muay Thai" by fans across the globe, Julie remained humble throughout her career, not only giving female fighters a great name but Muay Thai in general.
A high profile martial artist during the 1990's, Kathy was inducted into four separate martial art hall of fames. She practices numerous disciplines and is an incredible 8th Degree Black Belt in Kung Fu San Soo. She is most commonly known for her impressive Kickboxing career in which she won five world titles during the early times of female fighter scarcity. In 2009, she came out of retirement to win her MMA debut. Kathy also was a commentator on the very first UFC event.
Regarded by many as "the most successful and prominent female Boxer in the US", she is also credited as the woman that legitimized female Boxing. Christy officially retired in August 2012, leaving behind her an incredible record of 49-7-3 (31 KO). She remained unbeaten for 36 fights. Christy's greatness in all regards helped female Boxing become what it is today. Throughout her career she endured incredible difficulties in personal life, and still remained a true champion.
Debi stands alone in her type of contribution to the female martial arts community, unlike the others it is not her fight career that she is being championed for. She can be considered as one of the first pioneers of Women's MMA. We felt that Debi deserved the AOCA based on her work within the community. She is founder and owner of the website Fightergirls.com. The website gave female fighters their first home on the internet, this was a huge contribution to the female fight community.
Lucia was awarded the AOCA simply for her two incredible fights records, Boxing 17-0 (14 KO) and Kickboxing 36-0 (25 KO). With these fight records Lucia showed the world that women are as capable as their male counterparts in achieving greatness within combat sports. During her career Lucia was considered by many as "The Most Dangerous Woman in the World". She is also known for her acting skills and has appeared in numerous films and shows.
Cynthia's contribution to the female martial arts scene is hard to summarize, her achievements are unrivalled. She holds six black belts in various disciplines, one of which she is 7th Grand Master. She is a multi-time world champion in Karate, and high level weapons specialist. Named the Queen of martial arts films by the community, she has starred in over 50 martial arts movies and now also directs. She has also appeared on the front cover of almost every martial arts magazine around the globe, over 300 of them, inspiring countless young martial artists.
At 26, Ronda is the youngest martial artists to have been awarded the AOCA. She earned the award for what can only be described as opening up the flood gates for, and representing all the female MMA fighters around the world who struggle to get noticed. The mixture of exciting fight style, looks and brash mouth firmly put WMMA on the map, opening up the doubting male audience's eyes, taking it all the way to the UFC. Her contribution cannot be understated, she changed the world. Finally, let us not forget that this lady is an Olympic Medallist in Judo
One of the true pioneers of women's MMA, Rosi was fighting competitively back when this sport was still relatively underground. One of the things she's known for was fighting tough opponents. However, it is for the work she has done in the UK that has earned her the AOCA. Carving out a career such as Rosi's in a country that has been somewhat behind the rest of the MMA world is a remarkable feat. Her work ethic and character has inspired countless young hopefuls of the possibilities for women in combat sports.