Posts Tagged ‘amateur boxing

25
Jun
14

Here’s to the ladies who punch …

Here’s to the ladies who punch …

A History Of Women's Boxing

Today’s my big day.

The culmination of over two years of work on my new book, A History Of Women’s Boxing.

I get to strut my stuff in the ring at Gleason’s Gym and speak to an audience of assembled friends about the courage, bravery and pure gumption that women have shown for the past three hundred years each time they’ve donned the gloves. Oh yes, and smile a lot, sign books and jump around with glee!

It’ll be a moment to savor — though I admit to a plethora of doubts:  Did I get everything right? Did I forget someone? Did I make the point about pushing social and legal boundaries enough? Will the reader understand just how brave it was for a young and plucky Barbara Buttrick to insist that she had the right to box in 1949?

The historian’s lament plagues me a bit too. There’s never enough time or materials or opportunities to interview — except perhaps if the historian is Robert Caro, be still my historian’s heart.

The writing process is also a marathon battle — reminiscent of the endless rounds of the bare knuckle boxing era.  If we consider that there are “championship rounds in boxing” — of which Layla McCarter knows a thing or two having insisted on the right to fight 12 three-minute rounds more than once —  plowing through a writing project that is voluminous in the best sense nonetheless gets very, very tough as it heads towards the final chapters.  In my case I overwrote by about two hundred pages, which necessitated a mad scramble to cut, cut, cut. Talk about taking shots — those words were my children, and in my “humble” opinion, the points made were as important as any in the final cut of book, but like any gut shot, one sucks it up and moves on because that’s what happens.

If the writing was at times an arduous task, the overriding sensation, however, was one of deep, deep respect for the women who ply their trade as boxers — such that the project became a true labor of love.  Just the act of climbing through the ropes is, in my estimation, a resounding statement of defiance against the strictures that continue to be imposed on women as they go about their work-a-day worlds — nevermind what that meant in the 1970s when women took to the courts to gain the right box.

It still boggles the mind that women’s amateur fighting was virtually illegal in the United States until 1993 when a young 16-year-old girl named Dallas Malloy sued for the right to compete, not to mention Dee Hamaguchi who opened up the right for women to fight in New York’s Golden Gloves in 1995.

I mean what was that? Amateur boxing was illegal which meant women had no safe means of learning to compete other than to turn pro? Hmmm.

I’ll add that the quickest way to become a feminist is to take on a history of women’s anything project.  Talk about a wake up call! Wow!

Gussie Freeman

As I wrote the book, I admit to having favorites, women like Belle Martell who not only was the first licensed referee in the state of California, but who was also a promoter for amateur fights, took the tickets and then jumped in the ring in a ball gown to announce the bouts–the first women to do so. Belle also tried really hard to promote women in the ring in the early 1950s with the idea that they’d save a sport that was dying on the vine due to television. Gussie Freeman was another one. Talk about a character, she boxed briefly in the 1890s, but made such an impression people still remembered her 50 years later.

Dixie Dugan

When I was a kid, our history textbooks consisted of stories of kings and queens, generals and presidents, with very little about the men and women whose lives collectively swayed the shape of society as the centuries passed.

As a microcosm of society, the history of boxing provides an interesting perspective on social interactions between people, the power of popular culture and issues of race, class and the exploitation of labor. Throwing women into that mix provides a more nuanced understanding of those same issues. For one, women’s spectatorship became an important ingredient in developing boxing as a sport from the 1790s on!

The image of a woman in boxing gloves also became a potent symbol of the changing place of women in western society at points in history, most notably in the period between 1880s and the end of World War II when the place of women was upended in a clear line.

That we still question the place of women in the ring today is just as telling. Yes, there were and are those who object to boxing period no matter who contests the fight, but the notion that female boxing is an anathema still seems to finds its place in the conversation about the sport, which goes to the heart of the argument about the “place” of women in society. Ugh …  still?

Regardless, women push through it all anyway and climb through the ropes knowing their muscles have been honed into perfect boxing shape to leave it all in the ring having given their very best.

All I can say is that I am very, very proud to have contributed in some way to sing their praises.  And yep, here’s to the ladies who punch!

Links to purchase the book:

Barnes and Noble.com 

Amazon.com

20
Jul
13

A hot night at the fights …

A Hot Night at the Fights

Gleason's Gym - Gloving Up, Jul 19, 2013

Okay so it was a truly hot night.

The culmination of the heat wave that has left New York City sweltering and gasping with the kind of air that is so hard to breathe the only way to deal with it is to dodge in and out of air-conditioned stores as so many leapfrogged pit stops for crisp cool breaths.

None of that seemed to matter though to the crowd at Gleason’s Gym who’d come out to support their friends, family and gym pals competing at the second weekend of the New York State Amateur championships.

Heading over there to cheer on my fellow Gleason’s gym rats, I was grateful for the breezes moving bits of that heavy NYC summer air through the streets of Dumbo. I was looking forward to the chaos that is a fight night at the gym with fighters and their trainers, crowds and officials, milling around in the run up to the bouts–all in the pre-air conditioned splendor that is a boxing gym with its windows wide open, while the ceiling fans and industrial sized floor fans moved warm humid air from point to point intermingled with the faint hint of hot dog smell and sweat.

Gleasons Gym.Gloving Up.07192013This to me is boxing at its purest: a club show with none of the attendant hoopla of a pro-fight, and where the motivation comes from a love of the sport and the possibility of a trophy at the end.

Arriving there, snagging seats for my husband and I, waiting out the hour or so before the fights actually started was an opportunity to watch a world in motion. Friends embraced, young junior olympics kids nonchalantly hung near their families before being beckoned by coaches and trainers, and the novice and open fighters circled about. Having already made their weigh-ins, fighters, some nervously, were calculating just how much longer they’d have to wait before they fought.

“I’m not sure where I’m supposed to go now,” one fighter said.

Gleason's Gym, Christina Cruz waiting for her fight, July 19, 2013In this interregnum, I hung for a few minutes with my trainer Lennox Blackmoore who had three young fighters, ran into my fellow Women’s Boxing Symposium pal Sarah Deming who was there with her Cops n’ Kids fighters (one of whom I saw win later) and otherwise sat with a silly smile on my face as I watched the scenes unfold–admittedly in between gulps of water.

At some point, the crowd getting thicker and thicker, and the action at the gloves table heating up, pro-fighter and Gleason’s denizen Sonya Lamonakis took on her duties as ringmaster of the two rings of boxing. Tinkering with the a mic covered in gaffer’s tape, she finally managed to get the equipment working and began making announcements that reverberated with a tinny echo over the heads of the crowd. With two rings going and 15 or so fights in each, the sound, difficult enough to hear, was still something for the fighters and their trainers to key into. They had to wait for their call to the glove table two or three fights before they were due in the ring, and then their second call to get ready for their fight.

Seated right behind Sonya, I had a perfect view of both rings and of the fighters as they had their wrapped hands inspected by the officials before handing over their red USA Boxing Metro books and being gloved-up by their trainer: this done once the proceedings started as the fighting raged in both rings.

Gleasons Gym.Gloving Up.07192013

Sitting there, I was not so much aware of the individual fighters (though I had friends I cheered on), as the ebb and flow of boxers as they readied, plied the canvas with everything they had, and then in turn alighted as winners or losers. The crowd too had an ebb and flow. Each of us covered in sweat, focused on one or both of the rings, with syncopated cheers and whistles, claps and exhortations coming as one or another pas de deux engaged in some new ferocity of purpose won the attention of the spectators.

Gleason's Gym, Female JO Fighters, July 19, 2013

My friend Michal Perlstein was up in the sixth fight. This was to be her third amateur fight. Having made her weigh-in with ounces to spare she was elated at the prospect of getting into the ring. Her ring hopes, however, were somewhat dashed by the prospect of fighting others in her 152-lb weight class. Two were former national champions, and one woman, a Polish fighter, was said to have had over 200 amateur fights in Poland, although she claimed she’d only had 3. We all figured the 3 were “here,” with no mention of “there,” with nary a word on her purported MMA experience.

And that is women’s boxing in a nutshell I thought. Not enough fighters for an open and novice division that allows for the opportunity to gain experience in the ring without getting outclassed at the onset. As Michal put it, “the other two American women were asked how many fights they had and they said, like 26 or 27 and I had 2.”

Still, she was game and had a set purpose in her face as she stood outside ring number 1 near the red corner waiting to be called. Indeed she had drawn the Polish ringer in the blue corner, who stood in a shiny black gladiator skirt with all of the confidence of a seasoned pro, her legs, perfectly formed and massive–the kind that can support an onslaught of body shots a la Mike Tyson. Called into the ring, they fought cleanly and hard, but within thirty seconds it was obvious that Michal was outclassed and by a minute in she was unable to really defend herself.

GleasonsGym.#152Women.07192013

The ref wisely called an eight-count after she sustained a series of head shots and her corner consisting of two great pro-trainers Delon “Blimp” Parsely and Don Saxby had seen enough and called it off.

Gleasons Gym.#152.July 19, 2013Michal having worked for weeks and weeks preparing for the fight with hours in the ring boxing whomever she could was bummed at having been stopped–even though she clearly understood why. As she put it on Facebook later that night “I’m all for a challenge, but it’s a shame that most tournaments don’t separate women’s novice and open divisions to give the newer boxers an opportunity to safely get competition experience. I’m looking forward to better matching at club shows.”

Talking to Blimp a few minutes after the fight he just shook his head and indicating the other corner said, “it wasn’t worth her getting hurt.”

And that is the thing about the amateurs too. It’s not about suffering devastating losses in the ring, but the sport itself and the chance to hone skills and learn the craft and science of the game (although after I left, Sonya told me one of the women fighting in the semifinals for the 141 pound weight class allegedly bit her opponent in the third round and was disqualified, Lennox though was not so certain that it actually happened).

Knowing Michal, she’ll be back at it today or tomorrow. She’s that kind of competitor, one who is truly motivated by her love of boxing.

So many others of the fighters who alighted into the ring last night, including USA National Boxing Champion and Golden Gloves champion Christina Cruz (who won her 125 pound semifinal match) gave everything they had as well, and will no doubt feel the same way whether they won their fights or tasted disappointment.

They’ll be in the gym as soon as they are able to pick up the gloves again with all of the attendant pride, humility and fortitude that it implies.

19
Apr
12

Great boxing video by artist and amateur boxer Desiree D’Alessandro!

Great boxing video by artist and amateur boxer Desiree D’Alessandro!

Talk about a must see video, please take the time to watch this wonderful visual tone-poem to boxing as an art form entitled Artistic Performance, Amateur Boxing and “A People To Come” as part of the Digital (De-)(Re-) Territorializations Conference by artist and amateur boxer Desiree D’Alessandro!

I’d also like to send a huge shout out to the Daniel Martinez Boxing website for posting this remarkable artist’s work.  The link to Desiree’s original post is here.

Desiree D’Alessandro’s website is: http://desiree-dalessandro.com/

Her blog is: http://dalessandroart.blogspot.com/

13
May
11

Saturday night at the amateurs!

Saturday night at the amateurs!


Girlboxing friend Gleason’s Gym will be sponsoring an amateur fight night show on Saturday night, May 14th!

As usual, Angela Querol has been playing matchmaker to put together a terrific evening of juniors, seniors and master bouts!  The weigh-in begins at 4:00 PM and the first bout is slated to start at 6:00 PM.

The amateur fight card is sanctioned by USABoxingMetro — and will be A LOT of fun so, bring your pals, kids and family for a terrific evening of boxing!!!

Oh, and if you can’t get down to Gleason’s Gym catch it live on the internet on www.gofightlive.tv  with Gleason’s own Champion Sonya Lamonakis providing the blow-by-blow commentary!

For further information contact Gleason’s Gym @ 718-797-2872.  Tickets can be purchased at the door for $20 per person.  All gym members and registered amateurs with their books in hand pay $15 per person.  Kids 6 and under are free.  Gleason’s is located at 77 Front Street, Brooklyn, NY, Dumbo!

05
Apr
11

REMINDER: New York City’s own 84th annual Daily News 2011 Golden Gloves Finals!

REMINDER:  New York City’s own 84th annual Daily News 2011 Golden Gloves Finals!



The Golden Gloves finals will be on April 7 & April 8 @ the Madison Square Garden Theater!  Come on out for two great nights of fighting — no doubt you’ll be watching some future Olympians and world champions!

The fight roster is listed here.

For more information on tickets click here. You can also contact Gleason’s Gym. They’ve set aside a nice block of tickets and still have some available, but you’ve got to act fast! Call (718) 797-2872 or email info@gleasonsgym.net.

>>>>PS:  Nice piece in 4/6/11’s Daily News here.

19
Nov
10

Notre Dame Women’s Boxing Club: Baraka Bouts 2010

Notre Dame Women’s Boxing Club:  Baraka Bouts 2010

The University of Notre Dame’s annual women’s boxing challenge – the Baraka Bouts started on November 18th.  The women’s boxing club has been active in promoting women’s boxing on campus since 1997 and is well worth supporting.  Aside from the challenge of boxing in the ring, the series will raise money for the Lakeview Senior Secondary School in Uganda.  What’s also nice is that all women in the program have a chance to box — no matter what their skill level.

All about the club here.




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© Malissa Smith and Girlboxing, 2010-2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Malissa Smith and Girlboxing with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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