Archive for August, 2012

23
Aug
12

Righting and wronging: Chevelle Hallback

Righting and wronging: Chevelle Hallback

The great Chevelle Hallback (28-8-2, 11-KOs) was to have been the main event battling former foe Victoria Cisneros (6-13-2, 2-KOs), for the WIBA World Junior Welterweight Championship belt this coming Friday, August 24, 2012 at the Whitehall Armory in Whitehall, NY.

The fight was canceled, no word yet on why.

Hallback had a lot to prove to herself and her fans: that she could still bring it in the tough world of women’s boxing where the purses are lousy and the chances for promotion hard to come by at a time when the focus of the sport is trained on Claressa Shield‘s Olympic Gold medal and the future.

Hallback was also coming into the fight with some tough losses behind her, notably against Cecilia Braekhus (17-0) who has been seemingly unstoppable and France’s widely popular Myriam Lamare (19-3). PLUS her last fight had been canceled at the last moment as well.

Having fought two of the toughest opponents in her division and lost–the forty-year-old Hallback needed the win, and a decisive one, if she was to remain one of the top ranked in her division (she is currently ranked #2 by WIBA and #1 by Ringside) with a chance to obtain her goal of being the first women to fight on HBO Boxing. More to the point, if she is to contend with Braekhus and Lamare again, Hallback needs to defeat Cisneros whom she fought two years ago in Albuquerque in an 8-rounder. Hallback took a split-decision in that fight, but for her to remain on top now she needed to defeat Cisneros decisively with a display of splendid skills and heart-in-your-mouth passion.

On learning the news of her Ringside ranking she had said, “Number one! Yeah I’m excited at the news, but I’m not taking my eyes off what I still have to do.”

She also said, “I have to win each round convincingly, or just plain stop her. This needs to be a dominating win for me.”

Unfortunately, Hallback is not only fighting in the ring, but out of the ring, all symptomatic of how disgraceful professional women’s boxing is these days with promoters that don’t care and a fan base hot to watch with no outlets.

This is a real blow to Hallback, but more to the point, it is a real blow to women’s boxing. Truly, these women deserve better.

Here’s an interview with Chevelle from August 2nd. She sounds great!

20
Aug
12

Summer …

Summer …

Maybe its because I’ve had a weird bunch of weeks recouping from shoulder surgery, but this summer just feels slow and uninervating. Yes, of course there was the incredible HIGH of seeing the debut of women’s boxing at the Olympics, but now that it’s over, I feel as if I’ve fallen off a cliff!

I was in Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont for a week. It had a restorative feel and my husband and I reunited with our prodigal picking her up from camp. Still, back in Brooklyn, the weather kind of humid and unappealing, I’m hard pressed for motivation and as much as I am loath to say this, I’m ready to put an “amen” to summer.

What I’d like is a hard workout at the gym to wake me up.

Like a huge jolt of high-octane joe, hard-core gym time rocks my world with an instant shock treatment to the body and the brain. Perhaps it’s all the sweat pouring the accumulated junk out of my pores or the sudden remembrance that things can be done despite feeling otherwise. I’m not even talking endorphins here because that seems to come over time–what I’m after is the boom, boom, boom of going at something 100%.

It’s the reminder that your bones, young or old still have something in them. I forget that I have it in me from time to time, but like any shift, all it takes is a bit of movement to get going again.

15
Aug
12

Women’s boxing: past, present, future tense

Women’s boxing: past, present, future tense

Christy Martin & Mia St. John, WBC Title Fight, 8/13/12, Photo: Mary Ann Lurie Owen

Pictures always tell stories.  They speak of triumph, pain and the extraordinary toughness that is distilled down to a moment in time.

For Christy Martin (49-7-3, 31-KOs) and Mia St. John (46-11-2, 18-KOs) two legends in the field of women’s professional boxing those pictures, framed within the confines of a ten-round championship battle are indelible for what they tell us about tenacity, courage and love for the sport that both of these women has put so much heart into. Mia St. John won the fight by decision: 96-94, 96-94, 97-93. The decision was considered fair, and evened up their previous meeting on June 12, 2002 when Martin defeated St. John by decision.

Both women announced their retirement after the fight and given that they are 44 and 45 years old respectively, why not.  They’ve earned the right to hang up their gloves as much as any two champions who ever lived.

Christy Martin (r) & Deirdre Gogarty, March 16, 1996, Credit: fscclub.com

Christy Martin began her boxing career in the Toughwoman contests of the early 1990’s before finding her way to Don King and her most famous bout against Ireland’s great boxer Deirdre Gogarty on Showtime’s PPV in 1996.  That fight put women’s boxing on the map — and ready or not, into the primetime of promotional gambits that sought to capitalize on Martin’s success in the ring without regard for the women who actually fought these battles, or the consequences ten years later when the bottom seemed to fall out of professional women’s boxing in the United States.  Mia St. John was able to capitalize on that first wave herself, entering the ring in 1997 and signing first with Don King and then with Top Rank. She continued to box, just as Christy did through the good and lean times of the sport.

Women fight, win, lose, and tough out purses that barely cover expenses, never mind the cost of hitting the gym every day or going into camp for several weeks before a particularly tough bout, things that are taken for granted in the world of men’s boxing, but seem like flights of fancy for the female fighters. Martin and St. John and countless other women who fought alongside them, some highly renowned, others only in their respective cities or gyms, fight on even now if for nothing else than for love of the sport and the opportunity to fight through the things that bring them to the ring in the first place.

Martin and St. John’s bout was their last battle, but to borrow a term from track and field, they have passed on the baton and then some to countless women who have been inspired by their fortitude as they’ve braved the gauntlet to fight and fight hard in the ring. That it comes on the heels of the debut of women’s boxing in the 2012 Olympics is so much the sweeter.

Women’s boxing has Marlen Esparza (Bronze, flyweight medalist), Queen Underwood (lightweight Olympian) and Claressa Shields (Gold, middleweight medalist) to mark another milestone in the sport as great as the night of March 16, 1996 when Martin and Gogarty put the sport on the map. But they’ve also got sisters in gyms across the United States and the world working out two to three hours a day for the chance to climb through the velvet ropes to tell their own stories in minute frames of images.

What we owe to Christy Martin and Mia St. John is incalculable, suffice to say Girlboxing sends a salute to these two remarkable women who have literally pounded the flesh for glory.

 

 

10
Aug
12

The faces of the women’s Olympic boxing!

The faces of the women’s Olympic boxing!

The faces tell the story.

Joy.

Exuberance

Ferocity

Engagement

Pride

Intensity

Pain

09
Aug
12

Women’s Olympic Boxing Finals!!!

Women’s Olympic Boxing Finals!!!

“I wasn’t supposed to bang with her, but she didn’t respect me, so I had to!” – Claressa Shields on winning her semifinal bout 29:15 over Marina Volnova.

Update:

Claressa Shields wins the first middleweight gold medal in history by the score of 19:12!!!

 

Well it’s down to this, the first women’s Olympic boxing finals in history.

Fighting for the gold for the United States will be middleweight Claressa Shields who put the proverbial “beat down” on Kazakhstan’s Marina Volnova by the score of 29-15 after rocking her to an eight-count in the third and forth rounds. Claressa’s opponent will be Russia’s Nadeszda Torlopova who defeated Li Jinzi by the score of 12:10 in a somewhat lackluster contest.

In speaking about Claressa, AP sportswriter Greg Beacham wrote: “And just like Cassius Clay, Joe Frazier and Oscar De La Hoya before her, Claressa Shields is about to fight for a gold medal.”

Claressa has that effect. She’s infectious and has the same kind of star quality that makes putting her in the company of boxing greats seem like the most natural thing in the world. She’s also promised to bring home nothing less than gold — and knowing Claressa, she probably will.

Claressa Shields and Barbara “The Mighty Atom” Buttrick backstage at the Excel Arena. Buttrick began boxing in 1949 in carnival shows all over England. Credit: Sue Jay Johnson

In the Flyweight division, China’s Cancan Ren who defeated the USA’s Marlen Esparza by the score of 10-8 will take on Great Britain’s Nicola Adams who won her semifinal match against India’s Magnificent Mary Kom by decision 11:6.

Marlen Esparza and Mary Kom will both be awarded the first women’s flyweight bronze medals for women’s boxing. Both performed their best and should feel proud of their place in the evolution of the sport. Marlen has been a fierce competitor and a model of selfless achievement in the American amateur boxing community. And as for Mary Kom — having boxed in the first ever AIBA World Women’s Boxing tournament in 2001, she has persevered in the sport she loves to become an Olympian.

Ireland’s wildly popular Katie Taylor the reigning world champion in the Lightweight division handily defeated Mayzuna Chorieva 17:9 to earn her berth in the finals. She will face the number two seed, Sofya Ochigava from Russia who defeated the Brazilian fighter Adriana Araujo, 17:11.

Katie is a veteran amateur fighter who has long been lauded as the best of best. She also works tirelessly for women’s sports in her native Ireland and has become so beloved that she led the St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Dublin in 2011.

Whether these remarkable women win silver or gold — they each have stories to tell of how they made their way through the labyrinth of training, competition and the dings that life threw them along the way. As women they are trailblazers in a sport that more often than not has neglected their presence or worse attempted to meddle in such things as whether they should wear skirts. Still they have boxed their way into the hearts of their fans — and new ones who are being won over by the poise, skills and temerity of these athletes.

As you watch the women’s Olympic boxing finals today remember that you are part of history — and then send up an extra loud cheer for the sheer guts that these women embody as they step into the ring!

Don’t watch the Finals on your own! Cheer on with a terrific web chat!

Join Girlboxing, Sarah Deming and 2012 World Champion Tiara Brown and producer Marianne McCune online with WNYC.org Radio’s online chat as part of the WomenBox coverage! The festivities get underway at 11:30 AM (EDT) in the US. Link to the chat is here.

Great articles from around the web!

Ariel Levy, New Yorker: Claressa Shields Boxes for Gold

Greg Beacham, AP: US’ Claressa Shields advances to gold-medal bout

Eric Woodyard, MLive: Claressa Shields’ promise: Nothing less than gold in the Olympics

John Henderson, Denver Post: Olympic Boxing draws interest from all corners of the world

Ignacio Toress, NBC Latino: Marlen Esparza gets bronze and makes history

Lyndsey Telford, Independent.ie: Katie Taylor hailed as role model in hometown Bray

Olympics Results

Semifinal Session Results

08
Aug
12

Women’s boxing is going for the Gold!

Women’s boxing is going for the Gold!

Marlen Esparza, Claressa Shields and the ten other semi-finalists who will be battling it out today have spent years getting to this point.

India’s Mary Kom boxed in the first International Boxing Association (AIBA) Women’s World Boxing Championships held in November 2001 at a venue in Scranton, PA. Mary was one of 125 boxers who participated in the championship and won a Silver medal in the 48KG division. She subsequently won Gold in 2002, 2005, 2008 and 2010.

China’s Cancan Ren who will face Marlen Esparza in the semifinals is also a Gold medalist having won in 2008, 2010 and 2012. Marlen herself is no stranger to achieving the top spot in her sport having won the USA Boxing national championship five times in her career.

Ireland’s Katie Taylor is considered pound – for – pound about the best that women’s amateur boxing has to offer and if her quarterfinal bout against Natasha Jonas is any indication she is well on her way to Gold in the lightweight division.

And not to say that these remarkable athletes are only in it for the Gold, but as competitors they won’t say no to the opportunity to shine.

As members of the first class of female boxing Olympians there is, of course, a little something extra to the achievements that their considerable talent, gumption and strong work ethics have given them. Whatever happens they will hit the history books–and why not, they deserve every brilliant accolade coming to them for persevering in a sport that loves to hate them.

Even as of last night, @espnboxing tweeted the following: “2012 Summer Olympics–Errol Spence’s loss ensures no U.S. boxing medal…”

Okay, I give up–I thought that Marlen Esparza and Claressa Shields are fighting today for the chance to win a Bronze, Silver or Gold U.S. boxing medal. I guess I got that wrong–or is it that ESPN doesn’t consider that Marlen Esparza, Queen Underwood and Claressa Shields were worth noticing as members of the U.S. Olympic boxing team; not to mention consideration for the years and years and years of work and effort they put into becoming Olympians: win or lose.

Still Marlen and Claressa will box.

They will box alongside the other ten Olympians who have made it to the semifinals and leaving all the doubters and naysayers behind will fight their hearts out for Gold. It will be Gold they can feel proud of as a personal achievement, and yes for a bit of national pride too, no matter that for some of the women who will box for the chance to win Gold, it will be nothing more than an asterisk that’ll sit next to the “no U.S. boxing medal” mindset or equivalent nonsense thereof.

07
Aug
12

2012 Women’s Olympics Boxing Semi-Finals!

2012 Women’s Olympics Boxing Semi-Finals on Wed. August 8! — UPDATED (see link at bottom of post for full quarterfinal results)

Then there were twelve … twelve extraordinary boxers who will begin the medals rounds on Wednesday, August 8th to box for bronze, silver and gold and for their countries!  This is pretty heady stuff in the world of women’s boxing!  The action begins at 1:30 PM Local Time (8:30 AM EDT) on Wed. August 8th.

FLYWEIGHTS 

China’s top seed in the flyweight division Cancan Ren fought a quick and technically smart fight against Russia’s Elena Savelyeva to win her quarterfinal bout by decision with the score 12-7.  Her opponent is none other than the USA’s Marlen Esparza, who fought her signature inside/outside game with quick and assured hands to not only take the win against Bulgaria’s Karhla Magiolocco, but to show her dominance of the ring.  Esparza took the decision by the decisive score of 24-16.

The popular Indian Flyweight Mary Kom (Chungneihang Mery Kom Hmangte), who is a champion many times over won her fight by the score of 15-6 against Tunisian boxer Maroua Rahali.  Kom faces the Great Britain’s hometown favorite, Nicola Adams who handily defeated Bulgaria’s Stokya Petrova by decision with the score of 16-7 in the quarterfinals.

LIGHTWEIGHTS

Ireland’s Katie Taylor, the number one seed in the division, showed boxing brilliance in her match against Britain’s Natasha Jonas. Both fighters gave credance to the idea of calling boxing The Sweet Science. Taylor scored 26-15 by decision after rocking Jonas in both the third and forth rounds.  Her opponent will be Mavzuna Chorieva from Tajikistan who won her semi-final berth by defeating China’s Cheng Dong by the score of 13-8.

Brazil’s Adriana Araujo had a fairly close win over Morocco’s Mahjouba Oubtil scoring 16-12 by decision.  Araujo faces the number two seed, Russia’s Sofya Ochigava who walked through her bout against New Zealand’s Alexis Pritchard by the score of 22-4.

MIDDLEWEIGHTS

The first semifinal bout will be between the USA’s Claressa Shields and Marina Volnova of Kazakhstan. Shields gained her berth in a tough demanding bout against the much taller and experienced Anna Laurell. Shields toughness and ferocity, however won out as she muscled through her opponents defences to take the fight decisively by the score of 18-14.  Volnova gained her berth by toppling number one seed Savannah Marshall of Great Britain by decision, 16:12.

China’s Li Jinzi defeated Canadian favorite Mary Spencer in the quarterfinal by the score of 17-14. Jinzi will face number two seed Nadezda Torlopova of Russia who overpowered the Nigerian boxer Edith Ogoke 18-8 to take the decision.

Taking home the gold!

If viewers and boxing fans have questioned the quality of the boxing at the Olympics (especially the USA Boxing men’s program) — the female fighters have proven that where the women’s boxing program is concerned, they came to medal and medal they will. Fighters such as Marlen Esparza and Claressa Shields will come home with nothing less than a bronze, but truth be told it is gold they are after.

Whatever happens, the excitement in the ExCel Arena has been infectious if not mind-bendingly loud with decibel levels well in excess of 107 for the Taylor-Jonas fight. The Detroit Free Press added this quote which is apt:

“This Olympics just amplifies what they’ve already done,” Charles Leverette, assistant U.S. coach, said of women’s boxing’s inaugural competition. “It’s an exclamation point. These women here, they’re great talents. Me, personally, I think they’re going to be adding another couple of weight classes. This is some of the most exciting competition you can get.” (Full article here.)

Girlboxing for one couldn’t be prouder or more humbled by the remarkable efforts of the first class of female boxing Olympians who have stepped through the velvet ropes to fight. No matter the outcome they are all true champions who have defied the prevailing winds to prove themselves as true Olympians.

Quarterfinal Results Click HERE!!!




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