Tea and Sympathy …
Women’s boxing had an extraordinary lift last week at the 2012 AIBA Women’s World Boxing Championships.
Watching the talented athletes in the semi-finals and finals on YouTube was a source of great pride — not only from the perspective of cheering on one’s “colors” so to speak, but in knowing that the sport had evolved to the point where those athletes were all true champions.
And yes there were winners and losers … women who are nursing hurt feelings, sore muscles and the terrible disappointments that comes when goals are missed. Sometimes, as in the case of Queen Underwood, the loss was by a point or two in the tough, tough fight of her life — but the fact that she was there at all along with Canada’s Mary Spencer and Afghanistan’s Sadaf Rahimi says something about hard work, perseverance and talent against the kind of odds that can otherwise defeat a person in life, never mind behind the velvet ropes of the ring.
Whether as spectators, Saturday boxers or athletes who are ourselves in the mix, the sight of those young women pushing themselves physically and mentally was as uplifting a gift as I can remember. That it resulted in some press in support of the sport and a bit of a mention on ESPN’s Friday Night Fights was a brilliant arc of light as well. For all of those articles that continued to question a women’s “right” to be in the ring at all, well … perhaps the response should be left to the imagination for now, suffice it to say, if ever there were 325 women who set out to grab a ring for themselves, the women who fought with elegance, grace and sheer force at the world boxing tournament certainly earned the right to be there for generations to come.
Competitions come and go as do the emotions that accompany winning and losing. For my “money” so to speak, everyone who participated was a winner and as women go about the real work of boxing — training at the gym, competing in the amateurs and trying their hardest to make something of a professional career, we can strive to make those opportunities better for the young girls who may have been inspired by what they saw.
This summer, 36 women will represent us all in the Olympics, surely that will see all of our dreams come true.