This story is part of a collaboration with Sports Illustrated for the 2016 Where Are They Now series.
Months after finishing college, Christy Martin put her plans to become a teacher on hold and took a shot at a boxing career. She earned a knockout in her second fight and, soon, her career took off.
Sports Illustrated's Jacob Feldman writes:
In 1991, Christy became the first woman to sign with Don King. In ’94, she made her Las Vegas debut, winning by first-round knockout. Her fame reached another level two years later when—with a gushing bloody nose that played well for the cameras—she defeated Deirdre Gogarty by unanimous decision to become the nominal women’s lightweight champion of the world. Then came the SI cover and the appearances on David Letterman’s show and on 60 Minutes. Her fight fee skyrocketed from $15,000 to $150,000 nearly overnight. King and Tyson presented Christy with a white BMW Z3 straight out of a James Bond movie."
Martin — who now goes by her maiden name, Salters — competed for almost a decade without suffering a loss. But while she thrived in the boxing ring, Salters was miserable in her marriage to her trainer, Jim Martin.
"I was video-taped, audio-taped 24/7 in my house,” she tells Only A Game. “If I went to Walmart, he showed up. If I went to get my nails done, he showed up. So my personal life was just hell."
Domestic violence and manipulation marred the relationship.
"As I got older, I realized everything he said, basically, was a lie — except he told me from day one, even before I married him, that he would kill me if ever I left," she says. "When he said this, it was with such conviction that I did believe it."
Over time, Salters' boxing career faded, and she became addicted to cocaine. And shortly after reconnecting with a former high school girlfriend, Salters was left for dead with a bullet in her chest.
To hear Christy's story of survival, click the play button to the left of the headline at the top of the page.
Check back next week for more from Sports Illustrated and Only A Game. Or, hear the stories first at SI.com/WATN.
This segment aired on July 16, 2016.