The Hopes, Dreams, Frustration, and Self Determination of Erin Toughill
October 1, 2019
Anthony Saldana (108 articles)
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The Hopes, Dreams, Frustration, and Self Determination of Erin Toughill

By Anthony “Stacks” Saldaña

Growing up in Los Angeles, Erin Toughill had a love for fighting, but never had intentions of becoming a fighter. She was an all around great athlete that excelled in many sports including softball and soccer. In fact, Toughill was so good at soccer that she was offered a scholarship to play for Stanford University. However due to a built up anger, aggression and frustrations in her personal life, Toughill would ruin her scholarship opportunity and her chance to play collegiate soccer. Erin would be involved in several “street fights” as a teenager, be kicked out of five different High Schools in three years, and ended up on the streets. At the age of seventeen Toughill would eventually end up in Orange County, she got a job and began training in MMA. “Training in mixed martial arts was my outlet, I was training in kickboxing and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, it gave me a way to channel my frustrations, my anger and saved my life” stated Toughill in a recent interview with Supreme Boxing. Toughill continued to train and in September of 1999 made her MMA debut. A year later Toughill would try her hand at Boxing. “I had a lot of fights lined up in MMA, but most of those fights were in Japan and traveling all the time just wasn’t feasible for me.” Stated Toughill. “I started training at the original LA Boxing Club and seen many world champions there, eventually without any amateur fights, I was thrown into a boxing ring, I fought as a professional and it was too late to turn back.” Toughill would have a good, but not a great career in boxing that was misguided by some bad managerial decisions. While boxing, Erin would gain notoriety by fighting the likes of Laila Ali before retiring in 2006. 

Although no longer boxing and being a stellar natural athlete, Toughill stayed involved in combat sports. In 2007 she appeared in the second season of American Gladiators as “Steel” and then in 2008 was signed by “Strikeforce” having the 5th largest contract in the organization. Toughill however was suffering from a reoccurring neck injury and would be forced to pull out of eight fights in a years span due to knowing she would fail the drug test administered by the state athletic commission. “I was hurt, they kept prescribing pills, and boom I was addicted. I was sick from the drugs, I stayed addicted to pain killers for over five years, I was dying, and it was the opioids that were killing me.” Stated Toughill who went from taking over 30 pain killers day and losing her home, her car, and her entire savings to stopping her drug abuse cold turkey. In 2014 after getting clean it was combat sports that again saved Erin’s life. “I had to rebuild from the bottom up for my sanity, and the only thing I knew was boxing and MMA so I began training fighters, coaching kids and turning my life around.” 

Fast forward to 2018 that’s when Toughill got the urge to fight again, this time she was offered the opportunity to fight for Oscar De La Hoya on the inaugural Golden Boy MMA event that would be headlined by Tito Ortiz against Chuck Liddell at the Forum in Los Angeles. Toughill would train, get in the best shape of her life, but the fight never came to fruition as eight different opponents turned down the opportunity to get in the cage with Erin. That’s when Toughill was offered to fight the former WBC Super Middleweight Champion, Maricela “La Diva” Cornejo in January 2019. That night in Hollywood, nearly 13 years after Toughill had last entered the boxing ring for a meaningful fight,  she would give Cornejo all she could handle. Toughill came up short on the judges’ scorecards and lost by unanimous decision to “La Diva”. Erin would go on to take another fight in May, this time she would get stopped by the undefeated Raquel Miller. 

Now after two consecutive losses, turning 42 years old and persevering everything life has thrown at her Erin Toughill will look to make one last run at a world championship when she takes on Hannah Rankin for the IBO Super Welterweight Title this Saturday night in Detroit. When asked why she still fighting Erin stated “I’m doing this for me, I know I can beat her and I want to prove to myself that I can. I’ve never been knocked out or have I taken a lot of punishment in my career, I have a great team behind me and I know they wouldn’t let me get hurt or even killed, if they had any doubts about me not being able to be competitive or even able to win I wouldn’t be fighting. In my last fight, I’m not making excuses, and not taking anything away from Miller but I just wasn’t focused, I doubted myself a lot and it showed” Stated Toughill. “A lot of fighters at my age and at this point of their careers are fighting for money, but I tell you what if I needed the money I sure in the fuck wouldn’t be trying to do it in boxing. I could easily be making big money in Bellator or the UFC and if I lose this fight against Rankin like clearly lose this, I’ll hang up my gloves.” 

IBO Super Welterweight Champion Hannah Rankin

That led to the question of why women who are in boxing aren’t as popular as women who fight in the UFC? Toughill stated “women in boxing need to cross over like Gina Carano and Ronda Rousey, She appeared in the Fast and Furious, the Expendables and even made appearances in the WWE. Even if you’re hot in boxing, you need charisma, you need to know how to relate to other human beings and know how to use the art of talking shit. There’s truly a method for selling and marketing yourself. You don’t have to be the best boxer but you have to radiate to the fans” 

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Anthony Saldana