Posts Tagged ‘Mary Spencer

23
Feb
14

Last Woman Standing …

Last Woman Standing …

LAST WOMAN STANDING

First time documentary filmmakers Juliet Lammers & Lorraine Price have crafted an engaging film about two of Canada’s great national amateur boxing champions, Mary Spencer and Ariane Fortin, both of whom vied for a spot to represent Canada in the 2012 London Games in the 75 kg weight class.

From the opening frame of Last Woman Standing, the cheers of women’s boxing fans can be heard overlaying the film’s energetic score along with the images of the two feature fighters as they go about their hard training regimens.

The importance of the decision by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in agreement with the International Boxing Association (AIBA) to limit female boxing to three weight classes in their debut games in 2012 (as distinct from the original request for five weigth classes), provides the tension in the film as the ramification of the decision begins to weigh on both women. (The three Olympic weight classes for women remain, Featherweight (51kg-112 lbs.), Lightweight (60kg-132 lbs), and Middleweight (75kg-165 lbs.).

Prior to the decision, Spencer and Fortin, boxed in different weight classes. They were also the closest of friends who cheered each other on to national and international titles. With the decision by the IOC, however, it meant that the only way for either of them to compete in the Olympics was to jump up in weight class to 75kg — and as Mary Spencer said, “We never could have imagined that it would come down to us fighting for one spot.”

wdr-620-spencer-fortin

Structured around the events that propelled both women into successive collisions in the ring, the film covers their experiences inside and outside the squared circle as they both fought hard to represent Canada in 2012. What the films depicts is their great courage, fortitude and a will to succeed at all odds — that unfortunately, put so much emphasis on winning a spot, that in Mary’s own estimation it left her thinking that gaining the coveted spot meant her fight had already been won leading to disappointment when she actually fought in her Olympic debut.

Given that women’s boxing in the 2016 Rio Games is still limited to three weight classes, the tremendous pressure that the female fighters undergo for just 36 coveted spots is almost too much to bear. The film also brings home the importance of the Olympics as the one great competition that truly legitimizes the sport for the public as well as the athletes themselves.

Juliet Lammers & Lorraine Price have crafted an elegant, sensitive portrayal of the struggles the two friends underwent in the run up to 2012 — as well as the continuing problems that plague female practitioners of the sport.  

Last Woman Standing had its premier in the United States at the Hot Springs Documentary film festival and was a featured entry at the Big Sky Documentary Film Festival in Montana in mid-February.  The film, an absolute must see, is now available for rental or purchase on multiple platforms including  iTunesAmazon.com instant video, and others. The film continues to screen at various times in Canada. The film’s distributer, Film Buff, is also arranging showings in New York City and Los Angeles.

What the documentary does best, is remind us just how fabulous women’s boxing truly is–and of the immense pride and dedication female boxers bring every time they put on the gloves.

For further information, please refer the Last Woman Standing Facebook page at the link:

LastWomanStandingDocumentary

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!!!

06
Aug
12

2012 Women’s Olympic Boxing Quarterfinals!

2012 Women’s Olympic Boxing Quarterfinals!

Yep, today’s the day.  Twelve bouts across three Olympic weights:  flyweight, lightweight and middleweight. Action gets underway at the ExCel arena starting at 1:30 PM local time (8:30 ET).

FLYWEIGHTS

First up will be China’s Cancan Ren against Elena Savelyeva who won by decision yesterday over Hye Song Kim 12-9, in the first women’s Olympic bout in history.

The USA’s medal-hopeful and six-time national champion, Marlen Esparza will fight Karlha Magliocco of Venezuela who won her bout by a 15-14 decision against the Brazilian flyweight Erica Matos.

Next up will be India’s great champion Mary Kom who fought a gallant prelim bout against the much larger Polish fighter Karolina Michalczuk taking the decision by a score of 19-14.  Kom faces Tunisia’s Marous Rahali who had a BYE yesterday.

The last flyweight quarterfinal match will pit Bulgaria’s Stoyka Petrova who proved herself to be a talented competitor in her bout against New Zealand’s Siona Fernandes by taking the decision 23-11 against Great Britain’s Nicola Adams.

LIGHTWEIGHTS

The great Irish fighter Katie Taylor who as the number one seed is favored to win the gold may have had a BYE yesterday, but she will have her hands full when she faces the popular British fighter Natasha Jonas.  Jonas defeated the highly popular USA fighter Queen Underwood in a heartbreaker in the prelim round taking the decision 21-13.

The second fight will pit China’s Cheng Dong who won her quiet bout 10-5 against Mihaela Lacatus of Rumania.  She’ll face Mayzuna Chorieva of Tajekistan who had a BYE in the prelims.

The next outing will pit the scrappy Brazilian fighter Adriana Araujo who pulled out her win with fierce forth round action against Khassenova Saida (KAZ) by decision with the score of 16-14 against Mahjouba Oubtil (MAR) who will be making her Olympic debut.

The last lightweight bout will pit New Zealand’s popular boxer Alexis Pritchard who took her decision 15-10 against a very scrappy Rim Jouini of Tunisia against Russia’s Sofya Ochigava who sat out yesterday’s prelims with a BYE.

MIDDLEWEIGHTS

Great Britain’s Savannah Marshall, the number one seed in the middleweight division will make her Olympic debut facing Marina Volnova (KAZ) who took her decision 20-11 against Kenya’s great champion Elizabeth Andiego who quite frankly gave it her all in the ring during their preliminary bout–and should have won on heart alone.

Claressa Shields, the 17-year-old American phenomenon will enter the Olympic boxing ring for the first time against Sweden’s Anna Laurell who fought a tight technical bout against Australia’s Naomi Rasmussen winning the bout with a 24-17 decision.

The third bout will see Canada’s best hope for a boxing medal Mary Spencer against China’s Jinzi Li who fought a tough controversal bout against Brazil’s Rosell Feitosa. Li won the bout 19-14, but commentators felt that while she may have won the bout, the fourth round scoring did not accurately reflect action in the fight.

The last quarterfinal bout will pit Nigeria’s Edith Ogoke who won a close hard fought bout against Elena Vystropova (AZE) by the score of 14-12.  Ogoke is matched against the number two seed, Russia’s Nadezda Torlopova who sat out the prelims with a BYE.

Yesterday’s scoring results can be found here.

Today’s official bout sheet can be found here.

Queen Underwood’s emotional post-fight interview from NBC.

 

19
Jun
12

The greatest things … Queen Underwood, Olympian!

The greatest things … Queen Underwood, Olympian!

Sometimes things just work out.

For USA Boxing‘s Olympic Lightweight Trials Champion Queen Underwood, talent, determination and sheer courage have won the day in the Olympic Tripartite Commission’s decision to give her the last lightweight boxing berth available to the American continent in this year’s historical debut of women’s boxing at the 2012 summer Olympic Games in London.

Queen will join her teammates and fellow Olympians, Marlen Esparza and Claressa Shields in representing the United States this year.

Also getting the nod were Canada’s fabulous boxing talent Mary Spencer in the middleweight division and Brazil’s great flyweight champion, Erica Matos.

All three women were tremendously worthy of the honor not the least of which for their incredible skills as boxers.

In Queen Underwood’s case there is also something extra.

Her personal story is one of triumph over odds none of us should ever have to face or even consider. She is a survivor and a role model for punching through and finding a way to grapple with the demons that can haunt a person late into the night or otherwise push them into a spiral of self-abnegation and decline. Queen chose another way–and in that choice we are all the beneficiaries of an enormous talent not only in the ring, but in life itself.

(See this superlative article in the NY Times for more on Queen’s personal saga.)

In the game of life as in the ring we often roll with whatever the shots are. Sometimes they are to the gut and sometimes not, what’s great to know is that life has the capacity to surprise and to reward greatness when it counts.

————————

Note to readers:

I will be a one-armed bandit for a while as I am about to undergo the “knife” so to speak for arthroscopic shoulder surgery on June 20th.

It’ll mean I’ll be out of the box for a while, but I will attempt to post, albeit, one-armed. That will likely be next week, but sooner if I can manage.

While I can’t say I’m jumping for joy about all of this, I do look forward to walking into Gleason’s Gym to spend many a happy hour at work on the double-ended bag.

My surgeon is Dr. Andrew Feldman who has otherwise had a lot of “practice” on New York Ranger’s hockey players (he’s their team physician) so I’ve got to figure he’ll be ready for the “show” when he works his surgical magic on my labrum and tendons tomorrow.

I’ll see you from the other side.

 

23
May
12

Tea and Sympathy …

Tea and Sympathy …

Mikaela Mayer vs. Kyong Pak – Lt. Welterweight Semifinals, Credit: Feng Li/Getty Images

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.

WBA Superfeatherweight Kina “Dinamita” Malpartida v. Sriphrae Nongkipahayuth(L), Credit: Ernest Benavides AFP/GettyImages

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.

 

 

 

07
Apr
12

Women’s boxing: all eyes on Canada

>>>UPDATE!!!

Congratulations to the Women’s Elite Continental Boxing Champions!!!

Alex Love-48kg (USA), Marlen Esparza-51kg (USA), Clelia Costa-54kg (Brazil), Tiara Brown-57kg (USA), Adriana Araujo-64kg (Brazil), Mikaela Mayer-64kg (USA), Miriam da Silva-69kg (Canada), Claressa Shields-75kg (USA), Franchon Crews-81kg (USA), Erika Cabrera-+81kg (Brazil)!!!

Women’s boxing: all eyes on Canada …

The Women’s Elite Continental Boxing Championships have been underway in Cornwall, Ontario since April 4th and will run through April 7th.  Amateur women’s boxing champions from as far away as Argentina and Brazil and including teams from Jamaica, Ecuador, Mexico, Honduras, Puerto Rico, the United States and Canada have been competing their hearts out.

The tournament has been a preview of the caliber of women’s boxing we can expect in next month’s world championships in China, and importantly, a preview of sorts of how women in the Olympic weight classes will fare.

More importantly, as women’s boxing fever begins to rise, it is offering people who are less familiar with the sport the opportunity to become “infected” by the incredible boxing skills these extraordinary women are  demonstrating night after night.

As always, it seems, women who box do so “wall-to-wall” with barely an opportunity to breathe, never mind allow the action to stop.   As Puerto Rico’s Tiffany Perez who lost a heartbreaker last night put it in an interview with a Canadian paper, “ Women’s boxing is important because women are always the underdogs and this makes them stronger and more determined.” Article link here.

Tonight’s finals will be no exception, pitting the best of that North and South America have to offer for the world to see.  Give yourself a treat and watch the bouts starting at 7:00 PM EST:  Go Fight Live TV

Bout Roster – Finals 7:00 PM EST

(48kg) RED-LOVE Alexandra USA v.  BLUE-CRUZ Claribel ARG
(51kg) RED-ESPARZA Marlen USA v. BLUE-MATOS Erica BRA
(54kg) RED-BENAVIDEZ Yanina ARG  v.  BLUE-COSTA Clelia BRA
(57kg) RED-SANCHEZ Leonela ARG  v. BLUE-BROWN Tiara USA
(60kg) RED-ARAUJO Adriana BRA v. BLUE-SANCHEZ Dayana ARG
(64kg) RED-SILVA Roselaine BRA v. BLUE-MAYER Mikaela USA
(69kg) RED-GITTENS Kimberly BAR v. BLUE-da SILVA Myriam CAN
(75kg) RED-SHIELDS Claressa USA v. BLUE-SPENCER Mary CAN
(81kg) RED BERGERON Maude CAN v. BLUE CREWS-Franchon USA
(+81kg) RED CABRERA Erika BRA v. BLUE-PEREZ Victoria USA





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