By Jackie Kallen
Finally! Female boxers get their chance at last. This weekend marks the first time in history that women can compete in boxing in the Olympics. I never thought I’d see the day. When I was commissioner of the International Female Boxers Association, we talked about this day. But it seemed like sci-fi–not a reality.
There are only three weight classes, but it is a wonderful start. The two fighters I am looking forward to watching are USA’s Marlen Esparza and Ireland’s Katie Taylor. Esparza got a bye, so she doesn’t have to fight this weekend. Now she only has to win one fight to at least get a bronze medal.
Lightweight Katie Taylor has the potential of becoming the star of the 2012 Boxing competition. This woman has more medals and awards already than she can count. She has amassed 13 gold medals in various tournaments and is already being touted as the best female to ever lace up a pair of gloves.
With a father who was a boxer, it is not surprising that Katie found her way to a boxing gym in 1998 when she was 12 years old. In 2005 she won a gold medal at the European National Championships in Norway. That win gave her the incentive to keep on winning. She dominated in Russia, New Delhi, Barbados, Warsaw and China. The wins kept on coming.
In May Katie scored her fourth successive world title at the AIBA Women’s World Boxing Championships. She defeated the tough Russian competitor Sofya Ochigava. She is already making money with endorsements and has a huge following. At 26 years old, she has a long career ahead of her.
Interestingly, her father is her coach and her mother is a boxing referee. It is no accident that she ended up in this sport. She is also a star footballer who has won awards there. But it is boxing that has her heart.
“I love playing football for Ireland, and I love soccer, but when it comes down to it I would choose boxing as my number one sport as I’d miss it too much if I wasn’t involved.”
In a recent interview, Taylor talked about the Olympics.
“The Olympic Games will have a huge impact on the sport; there is absolutely no doubt about that. This is the biggest stage of all, the whole world will be watching and people will be amazed by the standard of women’s boxing. Boxing is the best sport in the world, the hardest; the training ensures boxers are amongst the fittest people on the planet. With women’s boxing making its debut in London, there will be a whole new generation of fans who will want to take part.”
On August 6, Katie will face the winner of the UK’s Natasha Jonas versus USA’s Queen Underwood. That should be a terrific match and Taylor is eager to fight either one. She has beat them both in the past and has no doubt that she can do it again.
Katie Taylor is just days away from making history.
Jackie Kallen is a boxing manager who has been in the business for over three decades. Her life inspired the Meg Ryan film “Against the Ropes” and she was a part of the NBC series “The Contender.” www.JackieKallen.com, www.facebook.com/JackieKallen
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