If you wouldn't call a doctor a 'female doctor' or a lawyer a 'female lawyer,' professional boxing champion Heather 'The Heat' Hardy argues boxing champions should be afforded the same respect.

Hardy, who began her amateur-turned-professional boxing career at 28, wrote a petition urging the governing bodies for the sport to remove the word 'female' from boxing championship belts, citing MMA leagues like the UFC and Bellator that do not differentiate between male and female on belts. 

"If the Olympics and MMA call a champion a champion, regardless of gender, why is boxing still lagging behind," she wrote. 

Where she says the real problem lies, though, is the disparity in pay with women "making an embarrassing percentage of what the male world champions are making."

"Whereas men are making in the millions, women are lucky if they even get six figures," she added.

Hardy said the petition represents, to her, much more than just the word 'female.' 

"Maybe in the grand scheme of things it's not such a big step but progress comes from a lot of small steps, and this is one of them," she told Cheddar. 

Two days before International Women's Day on Sunday, March 8, Hardy had a message for the women in her life. "I want to tell all my girls I teach, all my friends, to never stop fighting," she said. "You gotta go through it to get to it."

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