Women’s Boxing Is Now An Olympic Sport

I am a female boxer. A year ago, I was leaning against the boxing ring at my old gym in New York City, fully decked out in sparring gear and waiting nervously to hop in and kick some serious butt. To distract myself, I asked my trainer, “When do I get to compete in the Olympics?” He looked at me funny and shook his head. “Girl, women’s boxing isn’t an Olympic sport.” I was shocked. While men’s boxing has been in the Games for 105 years, female boxers have never had the chance to duke it out for gold. I’ve been boxing competitively for years. While I’ve met amazing people and learned a ton about the sport, I’ve always been somewhat disillusioned by it. The glass ceiling in women’s boxing is so low you practically have to crawl on your hands and knees. There is no “up.” Win a few fights? That’s it; you’re done. You’re a girl who likes to punch other women.

Men have been boxing in the Olympics for over 100 years, but it wasn’t until now that women won the right. Under the new rules, there’s a gender imbalance in the competition. At the 2012 London Games, 36 female boxers will compete in three weight classes—flyweight (106-110 pounds), lightweight (125-132 pounds) and middleweight (154-165 pounds). That means three ladies will leave London with gold medals. Meanwhile, 250 guys will be duking it out in 10 weight classes. Why limit women to three weight classes? In amateur boxing, there are 14. And what about the female heavyweights? [Baltimore Sun]

I wonder why women have been kept out of boxing in the Olympics for so long. When men use “concern” for our health as a reason for excluding us, I get pissed off the most. British boxer Amir Khan doesn’t think there should be any women’s boxing in the Olympics: “Women should leave [boxing] to the men. When you get hit, it’s very painful. Women can get knocked out.” [BBC]

I have to say, I’ve been hit many, many times — in the ribs, stomach, mouth and face — by men and women, some of whom were a lot bigger than me. I’ve woken up the day after sparring with headaches, bruises on my lips, and cuts on my arms. But no punch, or injury from it, has come close to hurting me as much as comments like Amir’s. At least we’ll get to duke it out at the Olympics.