by Charles Jay
Women’s boxing is in the Olympics, and it’s been a long time coming.
This part of the sport has never gotten a lot of respect for traditionalists, and maybe there have been periods where it didn’t deserve a whole lot. But there has been an evolution. The women have gotten a lot better with their hands and lot better with their technique. Sure, there is the chauvinistic attitude that the girls don’t belong in the ring like the boys do.
There is no Title IX in the Olympics as there is in American colleges and universities. Therefore, they have let the women in but they haven’t allowed the full complement of weight classes. There are only three of them available in which women can compete in these Games – flyweight, lightweight and middleweights. That has left a lot of potential competitors out of the action, and still others have had to make some adjustments. For example, Natasha Jonas, who had the misfortune of having to face Katie Taylor in quarterfinal action, had to move down from welterweight to lightweight to even have a chance. But she made the sacrifice.
Unlike the men, who fight for three rounds of three minutes’ duration, the women are going four rounds of two minutes each. That brings the judges in for a whole other set of numbers, and perhaps that adds an element to it, because the judging has been controversial at best in the Olympics thus far.
But whichever way you slice it, you could sense that this could be one of those events where a “star” was going to be born. The culture of the Olympics is that the general public was going to be able to see many competitors in sports they aren’t used to seeing on a regular basis, and that covers a lot of areas, including swimming, cycling, gymnastics, track and field and other endeavors. Now you can add women’s boxing to the list.
The public – and what we mean by that is the casual fan – has not really had a chance to watch women put gloves on. Therefore, this is really the first opportunity that women’s boxing has had for exposure being millions of fans that might not have had any interest in it before.
If a competitor has some flair in the ring, a good personality and an interesting story behind her, you could see someone who could become a national hero and really carry the torch for this sport into the future. We’re probably going to see that happening with Ireland’s Katie Taylor, the consensus choice as best amateur in the world, and Marlen Esparza of the United States, who powered into the medal round at flyweight with a win over Karlha Magliocco on Monday, and is one of the faces for Cover Girl cosmetics..
What a lot of people who are well immersed in boxing don’t seem to understand is that it is not their interest in the sport that drives success at the highest levels. Boxing is a sport that needs the interest of casual fans on those occasions when it needs to draw a big audience. That’s why the people who probably couldn’t think of the names of five active boxers are so very important to this whole process; for driving boxing to another level, and in the women’s part of the game that is especially true.
If somebody smart comes along who can take advantage of that, we’re going to see a whole new day dawning when it comes to the females lacing ’em up.