Rosetta Reed is a petite, professional attorney and a natural conversationalist. In her list of accolades lies an unexpected title, boxing champion.
Reed was born in Tehachapi and grew up in Mojave. A resident of Bakersfield since she was 16, Reed worked for a local newspaper called the Rosedale Roadrunner and eventually married Tony Reed, the publication’s owner.
Reed’s boxing career began when she and some friends decided to watch amateur matches in 1976. Reveling in the fight, Reed was hooked.
Kern County boxer Rosetta Reed faced off against No. 1 contender Bonnie Prestwood in Bakersfield in 1980.
Two weeks later, Reed was at the Munoz boxing gym on East California Avenue, and her husband became her manager.
“I liked boxing because I liked the exercise, and it kept me tone. And I was really competitive,” said Reed, who started boxing at age 26.
Women’s boxing was tough, not just in the ring, but as an up-and-coming sport. Society preferred the bouts between men rather than women. Reed was a pioneer of the sport but not before some intense training.
Working with Paul Munoz for a couple of years, Reed switched trainers to Chuck Wiggins in 1979. For Reed, the gym work was easy, but the running was the toughest part of becoming a champion. She often ran from Hart Park to Bakersfield and even along the California coast in the sinking sand.
“I hated it every step of the way,” Reed said.
Finding fights was like pulling teeth. Not only were there few women fighters, but Reed’s flyweight division (108 lbs – 112 lbs) had hardly anyone at all. But her big moment came at last in 1978 when she fought Nancy Thompson and knocked her out in just two rounds.
“The first couple of times I was in the ring, I was nervous. I looked at the other fighter and thought, ‘What am I doing here?’ But I knocked (Thompson) out in two rounds anyway,” Reed said.
In that era of boxing, spectators threw money into the ring after the match to show approval. Reed recalled it took at least 15 minutes for the crowd to finish tossing all their cash in the ring after her breakout fight.
With this crucial victory in the bag, “Rosi Reed” was ready to face off against the World Boxing Board’s No. 1 contender, Bonnie Prestwood.
“At the championship fight, unlike the previous times in the ring, I felt confident and much less apprehensive. I felt mentally and physically strong, like I could win,” Reed said.
The World Boxing Board Championship was held in Bakersfield in 1980. Reed, the underdog, surprised everyone with a stunning upset against Prestwood to become the No. 1 woman flyweight boxer in the world.
“It was in the sixth round and I gave a beautiful left hook. Prestwood’s eyes crossed, and she fell back into the ropes, and that’s when I knew I had won the championship,” Reed said.
Local writer Bryce Martin penned a book titled, “Kern County Sports Chronicles” and featured Reed on the front cover. An entire chapter of is devoted to Reed’s epic battle for the championship.
“That was a nice little surprise, and it’s a little impressive to tell people I’m on the front cover of a book,” Reed said with a grin.
With the peak of her career behind her, Reed slowly phased out of boxing, switched to training and formally retired in 1985. There wasn’t much money in the sport and Reed had decided it was time to move on. She started taking college classes little by little in 1988. She attended law school “just for fun” and graduated in 1997.
On top of her boxing and college success, Reed had four children, who, in turn, produced 11 grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.
Donning a nice collared shirt or blouse instead of gloves, Reed specializes in wills, trusts, probates, some bankruptcy, and estate planning today. She still taps into her tenacity and ability to stay focused that she honed in her boxing days.
“Being an attorney is much harder. Boxing is about three things: get in shape, hit and try not to get hit. An attorney has much more things going on, and there is a lot more work,” she said.
Though she’s out of the ring for good, Reed maintains her competitive edge by holding poker tournaments, winner takes all. And you can bet she isn’t going to lose without a fight.
Source: Zach Esparza, BakersfieldLife.com