Publicly speaking about women’s boxing and women’s sports!

Publicly speaking about women’s boxing and women’s sports!

I’m heading into the second day of a student conference at Empire State College. Aside from my jitters at presenting my own paper on the rituals of the boxing ring yesterday (that went well, I’m happy to report), I heard a paper raising the preverbal chicken and egg question about women’s sports.

Is it the media that downplays women’s sports to the point of invisibility or is it society that dictates to the media about our lack of interest.

The speaker did not present a point of view, per se, but did report on the pervasiveness of the practice and pointed out that where women’s sports are reported on — they seemed of the “acceptable” variety such as tennis and figure skating.  I in no way want to to denigrate the amazing athletes who dedicate so much of their lives to those sports — but even in tennis and figure skating, there are issues that get raised in terms of who earns the big bucks and who doesn’t and why (paging race and class anyone?), not to mention the pervasiveness of “cheesecake” images and ad infinitum discussions of what these athletes wear.

I mean really, when speaking of Andre Agassi, do we ask about his outfit??  But we certainly do when it come to Maria Sharapova or Serena Williams.

Given the enthusiasm of the women’s sporting events that I’ve attended both professional and amateur, and given the number of bottoms in the seats, I’ve got to believe that at the very least the costs for putting on those events are covered plus a few dollars for the promoters, so what gives?  And when it comes to Women’s Boxing why is it that we can barely even see a fight, never mind clamor for recognition!

The kicker is, we know that we can see women’s boxing as a televised and supported sport by both the fans and the media — if we live in Mexico or Argentina!

The question is WHY NOT HERE IN THE U.S.??

What is it about women’s sports — and women’s boxing in particular?  I could opine about a lot of things regarding women’s invisibility, but frankly, I just don’t get it.

It is truly time for a change.

Oh, and in case you haven’t seen a women’s bout in a while here’s the WBA Female Flyweight Championship fight with Yesica Bopp (17-7-0, 7-KO’s) vs. Daniella Berbudez (5-1-2) televised in, you guessed it, Argentina on 9/24/11.

PS – A HUGE shout out to the BoxFem channel on YouTube who graciously uploads these bouts!

10 thoughts on “Publicly speaking about women’s boxing and women’s sports!

  1. Margaret Reyes Dempsey

    GB, I think when you finish your thesis, you need to rework it for a mainstream audience and publish it. Judging by some of the posts you’ve been putting up, you’re gathering some good information and coming up with some provocative questions.

    1. Aficionado

      About the question “WHY NOT HERE IN THE U.S.??”, I think you will need to study the history in other countries. There are different factors and every country can be differents. Argentina is a good example. The main factor is not usually on the boxing websites : The soap opera “Sos mi vida”, starring Natalia Oreiro.

      This soap opera has several elements : Comedy, action, drama and boxing !!. It’s about a boxer, Esperanza “La Monita” Muñoz, and , it was the main hit on argentinian tv in 2006. Esperanza was the uruguay actress Natalia Oreiro; Natalia, a very charismastic singer and actress worked very seriously her character. She was supported by the legendary champion Marcela “la tigresa” Acuña. They were not only great partners, also, both of them were great promoters of women boxing.

      The Natalia’s athletic look and other female boxer characters similar look were very importants to clear the traditionally bad images and ideas about women boxer. Specially because, different to usual scenes about women boxing, they made competitive matches between Natalia and all her opponents. After it, the people thinks about women boxer as normal girls; but, athletics, skills and strongs. And better, as an aceptable woman model.

      Previously, Argentina already had women amateurs boxing schools. They work seriously and, certainly, this work was very important to have professional boxing champions in a short time after “Sos mi vida”. The Marcela Acuña’s career was very important to those school and usually the boxing commentators talks about it as the reason for the argentinian boom; but, it was “Sos mi vida” the main factor to impulse the profesional career of these fighters because this soap opera not only broken the tabues, also create a new good image.

      Compare againts other countries having great fighters; but, not being succesfull to get the full attention. Professional boxing is not only about technical skill, not only about to win; It’s for to gain money and It’s basically a show !!!. You need stars, not only champions, and you need to prepare the people ideas about women boxing; it’s not only to have great events. Maybe the problem in United State and other countries is because many people around women boxing don’t understand very well that lesson. I believe many persons love women professional boxing; but, think about it by having amateuristic ideas. In my opinion, to impulse the sport, first, must change its minds

  2. L.A.

    Excellent points. I think part of the struggle takes place at the level of discourse, where we are not ‘athletes’ but ‘female athletes.’ Qualifying fighters as ‘female’ pushes us out of the dominant group and into the minority just on the basis of language. It would be interesting to know more about how other cultures that value fighters, both male and female, use pronouns when discussing a specific fighter.
    By the way, what type of conference was it? I’ve seen several panels devoted to sports at the Popular Culture Association, although none were focused specifically on combative sports.

    1. Girlboxing Post author

      L. A., Thanks so much for your comments. I agree the entire idea creating a normative concept of athlete as male makes it difficult for women to be taken seriously at their athletic endeavers. It certainly doesn’t help that for no reason that I can fathom, boxing, for example, has three minute rounds for male atheltic contests and two minutes rounds for women boxers!

      Interestingly, the conference I presented a paper to was a student conference, however, two of us talked about women in athletics — as well as other presentations about women’s representation in Hip Hop and Political Campaigns. Clearly, media imagery was very much on everyone’s mind and given the papaucity of women’s athletics on cable television, nevermind mainstream commericial television it makes it that much harder.

      Your questions are good ones, and have intrigued a small, but growing number of academics who are looking at women’s elite athletics and martial sports as ripe for inquiry. Please stay in touch and note that I’ll add you to the list of boxing blogs! Thanks, again!

    2. Aficionado

      I would love to explain more about female boxing raising in other countries and more about the difference amateur-professional; but, I am sorry. I don’t speak english. I read and write (more or less); therefore, It takes too time to write a note and It’s very difficult to explain some themes. However, I support the sport, I want to help, and I know this website is important; therefore. I will try to explain more ideas. Tonight, I will write more

      1. Girlboxing Post author

        I really appreciate you contributions to the site! They are insightful and you have encylopedic knowlege about a lot of the nuances of women’s boxing! How have you come about your knowledge???

      2. Aficionado

        Thank you. Well, I had the first news about women boxing since 70s; but, really, I have been seriously interested in women boxing since early 80s when I saw a Cat Davis’s fight in a documental movie. Curiously, in my own country, we have had some continuos activities in the last years; therefore, my information was ever from other countries. Since 80s, I got too many videos by mail, almost ever from United States, Europe and Japaa. I was able to see many great fighters actually almost unknown (By the way, sadly I lost almost all my huge collection because I didn’t have free time to convert from VHS to current digital formats)

        Now, my interest is not only women boxing. Because it, I have usual informations about women boxing developers and I have my own ideas about the request to have a sucessfull profesional activity.

        For example, actually the most sucessfull countris for women boxing are Argentina and Mexico. Now, Mexico had great fighters since the early years and its current main stars are from that age (Ana Maria Torres, Mariana Juarez, Jackie Nava); but, they have been sucessfull only after Mexico had its own version of “Sos mi vida”, the soap opera “Un gancho al corazon”. Coincidence ?. Do you believe in coincidences ?

        By the way, there are other two versions of this soap opera. The first is from Portugal; bit, in this case, the star is a kickboxer. The other version is from Poland; but, I don’t have information from Poland. I only know the title “rosto w serce” and the name of the main star : Anna Mucha.

        Well, this note is already too large. I will write more this weekend

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