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Archive for Thursday, October 11, 2001

Ali vs. Woodard? Maybe someday

October 11, 2001

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Will it be Ali-Woodard in 2002, '03 or '04?

"That's the rumor," said Lynette Woodard, college basketball's all-time scoring leader now in her third year as an assistant coach at Kansas University. "I think I'd like to leave that as a rumor right now."

Still, the 42-year-old Woodard, who has boxed as part of her conditioning regimen the past several years -- she has gloves, punching bags and even a ringside bell in the basement of her house -- admits a professional fight is not out of the realm of possibility.

"Never say never," said the former WNBA great and Harlem Globetrotter. "If I ever go in an airport and see Don King I might mention it to him.

"I am into basketball right now. If we win the Final Four the next three or four years ... then I'm on."

Truth be known, Woodard is intrigued by the possibility of fighting.

"Let's just say I watched with great interest when I saw that fight," Woodard said of Laila Ali's eight-round majority decision over Jacqui Frazier-Lyde on June 8 in New York. Ali and Frazier-Lyde are the daughters of Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier, respectively.

Woodard -- she stands 6-foot and weighs about 160 pounds -- physically compares to some of the current leading women's boxers.

The 23-year-old Ali, who has a record of 10-0 with eight knockouts, stands 5-foot-10, 166 pounds.

Frazier-Lyde, 39, who has a record of 7-1 with seven knockouts, is 5-foot-9, 170.

And Freeda Foreman, the 23-year-old daughter of George Foreman stands 5-11, 160. She has a 5-0 record.

"What Lynette would have to be concerned with is to be consistent in training. One thing about Ali " I thought she had really good hands, quick combinations," said KU women's basketball coach Marian Washington, who believes Woodard would fight Ali if offered the opportunity. "Frazier was all courage and guts. I think Lynette could develop the combinations. You develop power in boxing by repeatedly punching that bag. If she was able to be consistent, I would not be worried."

Woodard's love of boxing blossomed five years ago when she worked as a stock broker in New York.

"There's a gym on every corner, so to speak," Woodard said. "When I was training for basketball (WNBA's summer season), I could not always get to a basketball court so I would go and box.

"I had (male) sparring partners in New York. They worked on defense. I worked on offense. I couldn't hurt those guys no matter what. Even if I was this close and the punch came hard I would never hit 'em. They are professional boxers. I could rear back and throw it and it was nothing to them. They block it.

"It's beautiful," she said of boxing. "You should try it. You get a new respect for three minutes, that's for sure. Every three minutes is another round for yourself. Everybody should go wrap up and see what it's like. The strength you develop " ."

KU coach Washington is amazed at Woodard's physical condition.

"She is phenomenal," Washington said. "She goes out on the court and plays basketball with them (current Jayhawks). It'll be a long time before we see her not able to do some things (in athletics)."

For the record, Washington, who coached Woodard in college and has remaind a close friend and mentor, has hopped into the ring herself.

"My gosh. I tried it," Washington said. "I could go three minutes. By the time you get to the last minute, your arms are dead. It is not easy."

-- Assistant sports editor Gary Bedore can be reached at 832-7186.

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