Following on from part 1 of the history of women's boxing, Unorthodoxx explores the growth and revolution of the women’s boxing in the last two decades. As a result of the prestigious competition and outstanding performances of female boxers in the ring women’s boxing has increased in popularity and interest. In a short space of time we have seen some of the exceptional talent, skill and heart.
Womens boxing in the 21st century
The 21st century began for women’s boxing with the World Amateur Boxing Championships in Scranton, Pennsylvania, held in 2001. This was the competition’s first ever event with over 16 countries competing. Russia achieved the highest number of gold medal table with a total four of medals and Canada won the most collective medals with nine.
Boxing has come a long way from ‘prize fighting’ origins and there has been considerable interest from amateur to elite boxing. The amount of media and television exposure for female boxing has grown rapidly and there are growing commercial opportunities becoming available.
The sport has come so far since the 2004 ‘Million Dollar Baby’ movie. However many of the young women who box mention this as being one of the earliest memories that motivated the women to participate in the sport despite the inequality and controversy.
International competition for female boxing
Many of us do boxing because it keeps fit, increases our self-esteem and makes us feel good about our body. On the competitive side, boxing can be used to challenge yourself and gain a sense of achievement, and some have the aspirations to represent our country and succeed at the highest level of sport.
Although, women’s boxing missed out on 2008 Olympic Games shortly after, in 2009, it was announced that the International Olympic Committee announced the inclusion of women’s boxing at the 2012 Olympic Games in London, UK. Three weight classes were approved to take part in the competition which gave many female boxers a chance to shine on the Olympic stage.
In terms of equipment, there was much work put into the clothing and protective gear for women in the competitions. Too much criticism, boxing coaches stated things such as “Women are made for beauty and not to take blows to the head” and “by wearing skirts…it gives a good impression, a womanly impression”. These comments and AIBA’s approach to the competition were reviewed after the negative backlash from female boxers, including the likes of Katie Taylor, and eventually, it was agreed that either shorts or skirts could be worn.
Inclusion of women’s boxing in the Olympic Games
The 2012 Olympics was highly anticipated for female boxers and coaches. The first gold medal ever in women's boxing was awarded to a flyweight boxer named Nicola Adam’s who was from the UK herself, making it a great first win for the home team. Katie Taylor (Ireland) and Claressa Shields (USA) also took home gold fighting in the lightweight and middleweight divisions, respectively. The competition and effort coming from these women in the ring showed that the boxing holds great talent in both the male and female divisions.
Nicola Adams and Claressa Shields would also go on to retain their gold medals at the 2016 Olympics in Brazil. The 2016 competitions followed a similar suit to the 2012 Olympics and produced an exceptional showing from women in the sport.