11/01/1993 at 01:00 AM EST
Ladie-e-e-es and gentlemen, let's get ready to rum-bull! In this corner, weighing 139 pounds, the recent winner by a quick KO over the manly art of self-defense, here's 16-year-old Dallas Malloy! And her opponent, tipping the scales at 139 pounds, the other boxer in the first officially sanctioned amateur bout between women in the U.S., 21-year-old Heather Poyner!
LONG BEFORE DALLAS MALLOY MADE THE date with boxing history she will keep this Saturday in Lynn wood, Wash.—back when she was still Jennifer McCleery of Bellingham, Wash.—she saw the 1954 movie On the Waterfront. Riveted by Marlon Brando's performance as washed-up pug Terry Malloy, whose surname she later legally adopted, she decided to take up boxing. She presented herself at James Ferguson's gym. "I was skeptical," says Ferguson, 49, who trains 15 male fighters. "I had never trained a woman. But she did everything the guys did."
Even before her first bout, Malloy has proved she's a battler. When she discovered that female fisticuffs weren't sanctioned in the United States, she enlisted the aid of the ACLU and with the support of her parents, both professors at Skagit Valley College in Mount Vernon, Wash., look her case to court. Earlier this month, United States Amateur Boxing Inc. rescinded its ban on women fighters. Now, wearing a chest protector, Malloy will step into the ring against Poyner—a law-enforcement student who has three years of martial arts and kick-boxing experience—for the historic fight.
Malloy, who dropped out of high school this fall—"It's a big waste of time," she says—has been sparring (with men, mostly), weight lifting and running four hours a day for the three-round bout. Win or lose, she plans to pursue another long shot. "My goal is to fight in the Olympics," she says—though women's boxing is not an Olympic sport and seems unlikely to become one anytime soon. "Heather Poyner is not going to be my toughest opponent—the International Olympic Committee is. Those are the people I have to convince."