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Open Letter: Nicole Woods
January 13, 2009


(JAN 13)  I have been researching women’s sports for some time now and would like to share my opinion with everyone. Kaliesha “ Wild Wild” West Open Letter is a good place to start the dialogue concerning the condition of the sport. I’m encouraged to hear someone with the same passion about the sport of women’s boxing.

Webster defines capitalism as an economic system characterized by private investments that are determined by private decision, prices, production, and the distribution of goods that are determined mainly by competition in a free market.

The common denominator in why women’s sports struggle is MONEY! In order for us to command more money and status we have to increase our marketability and become legitimate commodities as professional athletes.

I love boxing just like the rest of you, the fighting, training and all aspects of the sport. No one likes to say it, but lets’ be honest we all want to get paid. We are all waiting for those so called big money fights that don’t exist for most of us. The promoters, managers, fighters, media, advertisers, magazines, HBO, Showtime…. You hear so many times male fighters taking and waiting on fights that are financially in there best interest. That’s for one reason. MONEY.

We as athletes have to show promoters and networks that we can command a market. For example, Holly Holm and Mary Jo Sanders have proven they can do that in there individual hometowns. If you look around,  boxing is not the only sport that is going through this dilemma. Look at the WNBA. The WNBA plays 35 regular season games compared to the NBA who plays 83.  If the networks and owners of these teams thought it was more money to be made they would add games to the season. Women have buying power----but we just don’t use it. How many of you have supported a WNBA game this year?

Women sports are struggling---all except Tennis. So I went and looked at what happened in Tennis. Yes,  they at one point had the same problem that we are facing now. Then came some serious pioneers in the sport from Billy Jean King to the latest Venus and Serena Williams. Venus and Serena are some of the highest paid athletes in the world who happen to be female. They command the same prize money as there male counterparts for tournaments and said they could not play in that specific tournament if that wasn’t met. They were only able to do that because they made themselves commodities. They did that by being way above the competition. Some will say heads above the rest, not like everyone else. We can’t all be on the same playing field and except a promoter to drop a million dollars on us.

Back in the day when Christy Martin and Mia St. John were making a significant amount of money (more than any of us are making now) was because a promoter looked at them as a commodity. They were able to help and grow their business so they were put on big undercards on major sports networks.

It is going to take women in boxing to be heads above the rest. Will it be difficult?  Of course it will,  because it has never been done before. Ask Billy Jean King was it difficult when she was trying to make a change in women’s’ tennis. It's going to take superhuman efforts, not just mere mortals.

Fighters have got to start making real fights. Not being 15-0 without fighting one person with a winning record. This is not a single effort---we are still going to need help from promoters, managers, matchmakers and television but most times than none the decision to fight someone lands in the lap of the fighter.

None of us are making a million dollars for a fight so our fiscal responsibility is not that huge. I am not saying sell yourself short but we have to make fights that make sense.

Sometimes as fighters we are hurting ourselves more than we are helping. We always want to compare ourselves in pay to the men but they don’t have 2-0 professionals fighting 0-2 professionals for world titles either. We have to be able to make ourselves legitimate commodities but right now we are still being looked at as legitimate “special attractions”. As the promoters would say in there press releases which translates to me as a fighter “side show”. We also need to stop selling ourselves as sex symbols and sell ourselves as fighters. Every time you see a woman selling her sexuality that’s one step back we take in legitimacy. Yes I do agree we do lack the same opportunities because we are not men, but we do have to understand that in the end this is a business. A promoter can lose three male fighters today and replace them with three male fighters in the same day. If he looses a female fighter he has probably lost money. We have to create our own opportunities but it’s not just a one person effort. No one can make a mega fight by themselves. It takes two.

Everything I’ve said is merely my opinion on the situation but what I can say for a fact is that women need to look around in there division, up and down and start making some great fights that people would want to pay to see. We have to have some relentless fighters, warriors that want to be heads above the rest of the competition. Some women do have promoters, matchmakers and managers that can make this happen for us to be successful. We have to create commodities to show our marketability. Without that we are all wasting our breath talking about ever making real money in the sport. Who is going to step up and be the Venus and Serena Williams of the sport? Whoever they are will be the ones that get the paydays.

To promoters, matchmakers and managers I understand fully your position as most of you have probably been burned by female fighters in the past. To the extent that you do not want to deal with them anymore. We are amongst a different breed of female fighters. A lot of our women have comparable amateur backgrounds as our male counterparts. As viable Amateur World, Pan Am Games, National, Regional, State Champions and hopefully in 2012 Olympic Champions. We are just asking for a simple chance to show that we are no longer side shows. We do have the marketability and people want to see us fight. If given the opportunity to show our skills to be able to sell out arenas. Its not going to happen with one fight but a series of fights against real opponents. We are not asking for padded records but for an opportunity to shine. A chance at superstardom and that once forgotten about American Dream. A dream of order in which each man and each woman shall be able to attain to the fullest stature of which they are capable, and be recognized by others for what they are, regardless of circumstances of birth or position.”

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