Elvina White, a Muslim, Seeks Fight on Matchroom Boxing Card in Saudi Arabia
By David A. Avila
“Ich mochte in Saudia Arabia kampfen!” says Austria’s Elvina White.
Translated from German it means “I want to fight in Saudi Arabia.”
In less than a month a monstrous fight card takes place in Saudi Arabia featuring heavyweight champion Andy Ruiz against former champion Anthony Joshua on Dec. 2. It also presents an opportunity for a Muslim woman to showcase her fighting skills.
“I’m Muslim,” said White, who was born and raised in Austria but whose family migrated from Bosnia during a deadly civil war that erupted in the early 1990s. “I would love to be on the undercard in December. Saudi Arabia is changing their laws. I’m Muslim myself and I understand the culture.”
White, 25, made her professional debut two years ago at Tunica, Mississippi where she defeated veteran Tammy Franks. It was a long journey for the Austrian to even make it to the U.S.
It all started for White as a teen who had a restless spirit and displayed a penchant for athletics.
“I was 14 basically and I ended up in a police station. I was always playing outside on the streets and playing soccer,” said White, adding that she sometimes got into trouble. “I was 14 and a police officer took me to a boxing gym. I went into the gym and began hitting the bag and two weeks later had my first boxing match.”
Putting on the boxing gloves seemed to fit White perfectly and soon she was a regular in the boxing gym. She eagerly sought to fight more and more matches and eventually fought her way to become Austria’s national amateur champion.
Next, the Austrian champion sought recognition but in the professional world. In her mind there was only one place she could gain world recognition and that was in America.
“As I grew older with a little bit of money I bought a ticket to New York. The journey started from there,” said White who in her early 20s landed at the New York Athletic Club. “I always dreamt of becoming a professional boxer and bettering my skills.”
White had established her first step.
Road to Prizefighting
Soon after hearing advice from friends White moved from New York City to Los Angeles. It’s where she was introduced to world famous boxing trainer Buddy McGirt.
“Somebody told me if you want to turn professional you need to go to the West Coast. That’s what I did. I met Buddy, he was training Sergey Lipinets (former super lightweight world titlist). I showed up every day and when he was showing Sergey what to do, I was listening and it made sense to me,” said White. “I didn’t know who he was (McGirt). I said basically you are going to be my trainer now.”
The two hit it off.
McGirt was in the Austrian’s corner when she fought Mexico’s Annette Pabello and later Texas southpaw Jasmine Clarkson, a former foe of Ireland’s great Katie Taylor. White defeated both at the Avalon Theater on the 360 Promotions boxing card in 2018.
“Elvina has gone through a lot to get here,” said Tom Loeffler, president of 360 Promotions and advisor to super stars Gennady “GGG” Golovkin and Cecilia Braekhus. “She has a lot of tenacity and doesn’t give up.”
For White, though victorious in both fights and still undefeated after three pro fights, sees room for improvement
“Details, that’s the big difference between European and U.S. boxing. The sweet science you learn in America it takes years to learn. It takes so much time and repetition. That’s what I enjoy and love,” exclaims White who speaks four languages.
White believes she is still early in the stages of learning the art of boxing and all of its intricacies. She also realizes that as a woman barriers exist all over the world when it comes to female prizefighting.
“It has been very difficult. Whatever it takes or how long for me to get where I want to be I will do it. I’m not going to stop working. I’m going to get it,” said White.
Recently, when the Southern California-based White heard that the men’s heavyweight world championship was headed for Saudi Arabia, it sparked her to action. She soon discovered that Matchroom Boxing’s Eddie Hearn was organizing the boxing card and it seemed to White a Muslim female prizefighter would fit perfectly.
Saudi Arabia has adopted a blueprint called Saudi Vision 2030 to move the country economically into more diversified directions and that includes more tourism. The heavyweight rematch between Ruiz and Joshua is one of the results of the change in the Muslim country.
White sees an opportunity to become the first Muslim female boxer to perform on Saudi soil. It’s a dream she respectfully hopes will be considered by Matchroom Boxing’s Hearn.
“How amazing and game changing if a female would fight on this card,” says White excitedly. “It would be mind-blowing.”
As the child of Bosnian parents would say in their language:
“Hocu da se borim u Saudi Arabia,” said White in Bosnian. “I want to fight in Saudi Arabia.”
(Photo by Tom Hogan/Hogan Photos)