Equality for Female Boxers in the Olympics

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Open Letter to the Open Letters
By Arnie "Tokyo" Rosenthal
January 15, 2008
Photo: Ken Weiss (L) Rosenthal (R)


(JAN 15) Hi- been a while since I've been on WBAN but haven't stopped reading it daily even since AROTO appeared on the site. I always said that the women fighters had more spirit then the men and carried that amateur athlete mentality into the pros. Fighting because they want to rather then because they have to. Fighting often for short money but enjoying it regardless and still giving 110%. The "open letters", while passionate , dripped with frustration. Lots of hoping and wishing for things to get better for women's boxing. Lots of analogies to women's tennis, basketball and golf. Lot's of bitching about the lack of parity with the men. And my favorite expression of yore, "we don't wanna be a side show". I used this one often in my own sales pitches. But as a former boss of mine used to say, "Where's the plan?" Wishin' and a hopin' won't make things better. Complaining won't make things better. Jealousy of the "haves" won't make things better. You have to have a plan.

There was a buzz around A Ring Of Their Own when we started right through to our last full promotion in November of 2006. Flawed or not, we certainly had a plan. And while not frivolous, we had money. And for most of the time we had the support of the women's boxing community. I feel now, as I did then, that the strategies we had were sound and necessary for the success of women's boxing. But I'm not writing this to explain why we aren't doing shows anymore. I would however like to share what we felt were the necessities to success of women's boxing in hope that someone somewhere will pick up the ball and employ them. They are fairly simple and we certainly weren't re-inventing the wheel. We may have just been a little early, a little under capitalized, or so burned out after two and half years that we couldn't exploit the ground we gained or even we realize we gained it.

Regardless, for women's boxing to thrive:

1. Women must have all women's cards. That's the only way to not be a side show on men's cards and the only way for new talent to have a place to break in therefore increasing the ranks of women fighters. As I've been quoted before, "the WNBA doesn't play during half time of the NBA, the LPGA doesn't play between holes of the PGA, and women's tennis doesn't need men's tennis, period. Why should female fighters? Take control of your own destiny.

2.All women's cards must be televised. To not televise is to fight in a closet. I'm talking national distribution. For two years AROTO was televised weekly. Yes we lost a half a million dollars doing it but I'd do it again. It's a waste if you don't and the sport and the fighters can not grow without it. With all due respect, reading about in on WBAN is not exposure. It's just preaching to the choir. And Pay Per View, well with all the "hoopla" about Sanders-Holm, did anyone notice that the rematch was neither on PPV nor basic cable. To reach only 5,000 or so viewers by PPV you are once again reaching only the existing fans, not grabbing any new ones. TV must be weekly at a minimum, not two or three times a year on Fox Sports. That won't grow anything. If nothing else while AROTO was televised we developed talent that would go on to better pay days against Laila Ali and more lucrative pay days in Europe and Japan as well.

As a side note, we did try web casting and sorry to say we were way ahead of our time and lost considerable money. It still is not a viable alternative to TV.

3.Forget about the belts. Women's boxing has taken all the bad from men's boxing in this department and compounded the felony. It's alphabet soup times three. Women fighters have to stop worrying about these trinkets otherwise the sport will remain a carnival attraction and the belts are no more then kewpie dolls won at a shooting gallery. The promoters are at fault here too playing into the "world title fight" mentality. At least the men have an excuse that wealthy networks pay them to have fights called "world titles". Women don't even have that excuse. It's strictly about bragging rights, mostly to people who don't know the difference. Grow up. If you want the sport to succeed then make good matches. The real titles will surface along with the best fighters. And when that happens the budgets will be there to follow proper guidelines for impartial judging and refereeing for the governing bodies.

4.Promoters who are lucky enough to have a local women's boxing attraction must use this as a vehicle to develop other talent and do all women's cards. This formula had worked in Edmonton and Albuquerque in particular. But the undercards don't have to all be title fights. It would be more beneficial for the sport in the long run to have more fights and allow some of the new talent to be on the shows. Never the less it seems that this formula has been abandoned. Correct me if I'm wrong but when Sanders and Holm fought the rematch in Detroit, were they the only women's fight on the card? Laila Ali, while responsible in part for the popularity that women's boxing achieved at the turn of the century, hasn't given anything back to the sport that made her and rarely had any other women's bouts on her undercards. Both she and Christy Martin could have built franchises around their names when they were hot but they didn't. Billie Jean King DID when she formed Virginia Slims Tennis and broke away from the men's tournaments. She put her ability where her mouth was and took a shot for the women's side of the sport and the rest is history. I haven't seen that done yet by any of the top draw women fighters. Billie Jean is the case study for how to make it happen.

5.Finally don't criticize what you don't understand. If nothing else I ran TV networks long before I promoted. I know the numbers inside out and fighters, male or female think that promoters are making fortunes off of them and even if they're not fighters think it's their birthright to take the promoters money regardless of profit. While fighters work hard, so do promoters. Stop thinking you're getting ripped off. I'm here, a half a million dollars later to tell you that you are not. And for those of you saying, "give me the half a mil and I'll show you how to do it". I say "get real, and get back in the gym." We did try to rejuvenate AROTO back in February of last year. The fighters had amnesia. They just wouldn't fight for our budget to get things started again. Well the volume of women's fights have fallen off dramatically. There's no organization and there's no TV. I'm not running for office nor do I want to do this again. Just trying to take your passion and try and direct it and maybe, just maybe, someone will pick up the ball and run with it. Just trying to share the experiences and the beliefs.

In 2004  I thought the time had come for women's boxing to take center stage. In 2009 I feel the same way, maybe more so. There's some great gifted athlete's in women's boxing and there's a large public just waiting to see them. I may not get there with you but you can get there. But not by wishin' and hopin' . You need a plan. Good luck to all.



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