Emma Maitland was a woman of many talents. She was dancer and actress but it was boxing that made her name well-known. Maitland was successful as a fighter, she earned hundreds of dollars per fight. She was later earned the title lightweight boxing champion of the world
Maitland was born in Virginia in 1893. Her parents worked as tobacco farmers. After completing her primary education, she took and passed the exam to become a teacher.
Within a few years of passing the exam, Maitland relocated to Washington, D.C., where she later met her husband who was attending Howard University. The couple had a daughter, but within a year of being married, tragedy struck and her husband, Clarence Maitland, died from tuberculosis.
Being left to raise her daughter alone, Maitland decided to pursue a career as a dancer. She left her child with her parents and headed to Paris to pursue a career. She traveled throughout Europe performing with a dance troupe and ended up back in the United States. She later performed in the musical Shuffle Along and later appeared in the theater production Harlem at the Apollo Theater.
By 1927, Maitland was training as a boxer. She appeared in a boxing skit in Paris, where she and another black boxer Aurelia Wheeldin boxed three rounds. After hanging up her boxing gloves, Maitland taught dance and gymnastics in New York. Emma Maitland died in 1975 at the age of 82.