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Part III:  A Ring of Their Own and what happened in Year Two that Caused the Eventual Demise of AROTO
by Sue TL Fox
March 21, 2021
Intro to Series
Part I  Part II  Part III
     
   
   


 

(MARCH 21) WBAN has been documenting the history of the A Ring of Their Own that was a significant historical footprint in all-female boxing cards, a series that the AROTO did, and the PPV's with women's boxing from 2005 to close to 2007.  We also discuss some of the struggles that they went through doing something with women's boxing where they were way before their time in the sport. In Part III, WBAN asked Tokyo Rosenthal of the AROTO to find out what happened in Year Two, and what caused the eventual demise of the AROTO.  Tokyo said the following:

"Before I answer your next round of questions I'd be remiss if I didn't mention Stuart Breslow, who was an investor in AROTO and helped our growth. His investment and belief in AROTO were quite helpful."

For the start of year two we went back to basics. Basic Cable shows with increased weekly distribution. The AROTO franchise was starting to catch on. We had always felt that women's boxing should be presented as an all or nothing concept.

In other words only women on the women's shows. Women shouldn't be sideshows on a men's card. So that's how we approached it.

Once in a while, in order to get a particular fight, we had to edit a women's fight off of a mixed card, but for the most part we stuck to our concept. Oddly we continued to be the only weekly women's boxing series on TV, here or abroad. The talent pool continued to grow and the recognition of our fighters grew with it. We felt the fighters were developing personalities, not unlike the UFC or WWE. Many of those fighters are still fighting today. Melissa Hernandez, Jelena Mrdjenovich, Layla McCarter, Laura Ramsey, and Chevelle Hallback are among many who continue to compete.

For better or worse, we spread out across the country, and the world, building an audience off our televised shows, to help draw at various venues. We began 2006 in Los Angeles where Kenny Weiss lived.

For the record, I lived in Connecticut then so we were definitely a national company. We found the California commission tough to work with but we managed. Our "homegrown" fighter, Laura Ramsey headlined the card against Erin Toughill and Suswella Roberts took on Daria Hill. Laura lost a decision. Suswella eked out a decision over Daria, to improve to 6-0. She fought a draw shortly after that and then never fought again. I have no idea why. Bonnie Canino brought in Yvonne Reis from Florida as we continued to be national. This show marked my return to commentating which I had done for 20 years or so. It was hard to find commentators that knew a lot about women's boxing. I was there and knew our fighters inside and out so it was natural. Well, at least it saved a salary, LOL! Over the series we had some great color commentators working with us too including Jessica Rakoczy, Krysti Rosario, Corinne Van Ryck de Groot and Jill Emery.


Jeannine Garside

Only two weeks later, we continued our relationship with Harrah's, this time in Kansas City. Jeannine Garside continued to "wow!" everyone and was the hit of the show. Post AROTO, she would win many world titles before retiring.

It might be interesting to point out here just what World Titles actually mean. In our opinion, they mean little. Women's boxing had picked up a bad habit from Men's boxing. There were too many governing bodies and title fights were just slapped together. Be it the WBC, or the WIBA, or any other alphabet group. they all had little credibility. It was the fighters that made the championship. WBAN had a "belt" and was very selective in who they would match up for their belt. There's carried the most credibility. All this being said, a supposed world title fight was "sexy" for the venues and for TV so we followed suit. You also found women matched for supposed titles after just a few pro fights as women had far less matches then men, and sanctioned match ups were sometimes hard to find.

Once in a while we got lucky and got to go abroad, i.e., Paris.
Belinda Laracuente, known for almost upsetting Christy Martin, was matched in Paris against World Champion Miriam Lamare. We made a deal to get the TV rights to the fight in the U.S. It was a great show and production, and cemented AROTO's relationship in Europe. The fight was March 18, 2006, and close enough with Belinda losing, that a rematch was ordered for the coming summer. The TV looked great to our viewers and regional networks. What's better then a fight coming from Paris?

I barely had time to unpack as our next show was back in Edmonton where
Jelena Mrdjenovich continued to draw big time. And another week later I found myself in Trinidad with Lisa Brown. Lisa was signed exclusively to AROTO and was originally from Trinidad, so there we were, fighting for a local promoter with the name Boxu Potts. The country turned out for their "favorite daughter" and we had yet another international card. Maybe this was the strategy, to get fights outside the US and bring the tapes back home, basically televising the shows at no expense to us. It felt like we were treading water, but we weren't drowning. Paris - Edmonton - Trinidad, all in three weeks.

Now we sat down and thought about PPV once again. Feeling we were still ahead of ourselves in terms of internet streaming we thought maybe we could go back to traditional PPV on cable TV.  

First however we needed to cross promote with our weekly shows, and better yet, we needed venues to record the shows. That all came together rather easily beginning in June in Winston, Salem, NC, Back up to Edmonton on June 23rd, the Laracuente - Lamare rematch in Cannes in July, and Harrah's Lake Tahoe in August, which featured the one round KO by Ramsey in a rematch over Toughill. An aborted Philippines show was followed by a return to Trinidad in September.


Giselle Salandy - 1987-2009

Important note on the Trinidad show. The main event featured a great fighter named Giselle Salandy. She fought, and stopped, Liz Mooney. Salandy was clearly going to be a major force in women's boxing and was slated to come to the States and be featured on an AROTO show. Unfortunately, shortly after this show, she died in a car crash and a great career was snuffed out.

Kenny was busy editing all of these shows together in weekly versions as we had made the decision to go PPV in November. This time we decided to televise the PPV on a delayed basis. We were prompted to do this by many factors including the venue date conflicting with the PPV availability. It wasn't the best scenario but we felt the card was strong, and unique enough, to draw fans though it was "Jive Live". This wasn't all wrong, but wrong enough to lose a few dollars on the show. The card however, was arguably the best we ever did.
Melissa Hernandez v. Lisa Brown, Jeannine Garside v. Laura Serrano, and Ann Marie Saccurato  v. Jelena Mrdjenovich. SPECTACULAR! This card would do a great buy rate today! It turned out however to be our last full AROTO show. It was appropriate that we signed off with yet our biggest upset of the series. This was Saccurato defeating Mrdjenovich by decision. No one saw this coming especially as Saccurato was a last second stand in for Eliza Olson. Now she was a World Champ, something she would repeat two more times.

 
[Tokyo Rosenthal wrote and recorded a song about stellar AROTO fighter Ann Marie Saccurato.]

AROTO closed down at the end of 2006 for many reasons, not the least of all was money. We weren't making any, weren't losing much, and didn't have any prospects for raising more capital. We still had several fighters under contract, most notably Saccurato who we would continue to book in the States and as far away as Japan.

It was around this time that both Kenny and I both moved to Chapel Hill, NC, our families in tow. Kenny became an adjunct professor at UNC and focused on that as opposed to boxing promotion, be it women's or men's. I had a strange career path too. I had a minor hit record with a tune called "Edmonton" which led to recording seven albums and touring all over the world. As much as I liked promoting women's boxing, music was my first love and now was a full time profession. As of this interview, it's been full time for approx. 15 years, and Pandemic aside, it will likely continue for many more years to follow.

We believe we made history with AROTO and continue to root on the sidelines for the various promoters and fighters who have picked up our pieces and try to accomplish what we targeted to do so many years ago. FYI, Amy Green grew to be the best women's boxing publicist out there and Wanda Bruce is arguably the best women's boxing matchmaker. Peace, Tokyo Rosenthal

 

 

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