Women Boxers: Gaining a Knockout on Sexism or Sexism knocking them out
Park University 2012
Boxing in general is a controversial topic but add the idea of women boxing and for some it is taboo. Despite sexism, discrimination, gender bias, stereotypes, and the glass ceiling- all adding up to inequality, that takes place in parts of society’s views and actions; women have and to this day continue to participate in boxing- furthermore progress within. Past women boxers made it possible for present and future women boxers to participate in the sport/profession. Women’s boxing is at times viewed as deviance by society because boxing is fighting and society regularly frowns upon women fighting. Boxing is occasionally seen as negative because of the violence fighting brings and the manifested affects of blood, bruises, and tears. Some latent, negative effects that boxing can have on both men and women are: brain damage and AIDS. Boxing can be positive for both males and females medically and by teaching physical strength, offense, defense, technique, speed, hand-eye coordination, and balance; as well as mental stamina: endurance, patience, discipline, precision, respect, dignity, and sportsmanship. The most controversial idea; is more power for women can be gained through boxing because it is impossible to state as a fact whether more power to women is positive or negative. That is whether the power to women is through boxing (fighting) or any other profession/action; because countless still refute women’s rights.
Keywords: women’s boxing, sport/profession, past, present, brain damage, AIDS deviance, sexism, discrimination, stereotypes, gender-bias, the glass ceiling- inequality, manifested and latent affects
Women have experienced inequality compared to men since the beginning of time; even to the time when men and women were created. Adam was made first and Eve was made from and for Adam. However, Eve was not made to be Adams slave or to be treated as inferior to Adam. Eve was made to be a companion for Adam, an equal and they were treated as equals when they both sinned. Eve may have been punished a little differently but this was not because Adam was created as a higher being but because Eve tempted Adam. If it were not for Eve there would not be the world we have today. Eve took the chance and ate the forbidden fruit; changing the world completely for men and women. Women have been expected to be feminine and be there for men. At times women were and are not expected to fight or speak up for themselves. In some places this action would be indecent if not shocking for a woman to take. Women have been used for childbearing, used for housemaids; and many are and were abused by men. Women were not allowed to enter into the field of professional work, to support their self and gain education; occasionally many are still held back from doing so. Numerous women struggle as single mothers with little education still, despite that many women in the past have fought and won over women’s rights and changed the world for many women today. Past women boxers have gained respect from other women and especially from men; making it possible for women boxers to compete in the sport/profession today. These past boxers, like Eve, tasted that forbidden fruit (of female fighting) and changed the views that some of society has about women boxing today.
Important Terms with Definitions
Before the idea that women’s boxing can be understood as a controversial topic, a few key terms must first be defined. The first key term is Sports Sociology which is what this paper is based on. Sports Sociology reflects on the connection between sports and society, bearing in mind how culture and values manipulate a sport and vice versa. Religion, gender, social mobility, and race are all taken into account. Halbert wrote, “According to Howard Becker (1963), people are labeled as deviant [the second key term] when they do not conform to conventional norms and values (1997, p.6). The third key term is sexism; this idea declares supremacy toward one gender over the other, usually against the opposite gender. The fourth term is discrimination; this means instead of judging the individual based on their own value, a person (in this case the woman boxer) is reprimanded on the grounds of their membership within a group. The fifth term is stereotypes. According to Paul Lester,
Since our brains naturally classify what we see, we can't help but notice the differences in physical attributes between one person and another. But it is not natural to stereotype… to stereotype is a short-hand way to describe a person with collective, rather than unique characteristics… Because visual messages are products of our sense of sight, pictures are highly emotional objects that have long-lasting staying power within the grayest regions of our brain… media messages that stereotype individuals by their concentrations, frequencies, and omissions become a part of our long-term memory. The media typically portray members of diverse cultural groups within specific content categories-usually crime, entertainment, and sports-and almost never within general interest, (1997, p. 1).
Examples of how media portrays women boxers can be found in North Korea. The media promotes women’s boxing in North Korea and if the media were to portray women’s boxing as negative; this would be viewed as propaganda (Lee, 2009). According to Lee,
The communist press seldom describes women as sex objects, as communism, at least in theory, emphasizes equality between the sexes and the liberation of women…many communist governments encourage women to participate in sporting activities in order to make them physically strong…with regard to the media coverage of female athletes by the communist media, social problems arise more from the attempt to spread propaganda than sexism (2009, p. 2, 3).
According to McCree; one female boxer named Jizelle Salandy, sadly only became famous after her death. Salandy died at the age of 21; from a vehicle accident in 2009. She was a “light middle weight boxer from Trinidad and Tobago” (McCree, 2011, p. 4). In his article Roy McCree discusses even further the affects of the media, nationalism, and gender on sports as well as vice versa (2011).
Mike Marqusee discussed in his article how stereotypes were not only aimed towards females. Men like Muhammad Ali, although very famous now; faced the issue of stereotyping in his career (n.d.). Muhammad Ali over came stereotyping (based on his class and race) now his daughter faces the issue today (due to her race and gender).
The sixth term is gender bias. Gender is when society classifies the sexes. Gender does not only mean male and female; gender also refers to lesbians, gays, and transsexuals. One transsexual that was a boxer in 2004 is a biological male from Asia by the name of Nong Toom. In the ring Toom fought as a male with other males but outside of the boxing ring he dressed as a female. Toom boxed against discrimination, stereotypes, and biases everyday but when he got into the ring the fight was on. Boxing helped Toom deal with the issue of being different and therefore face bias. Bias is when there is a favorite or leaning in place that hinders neutral fairness. The bias was recognized with Nong Tooms’ story and a movie was made based on that experience called ‘Beautiful Boxer’ (Banh, 2004).
The seventh and final term is the glass ceiling theory. Women boxers must display their masculinity as well as their femininity. According to Beulah Coyne et al, in 1991 Webster’s College Dictionary described the glass ceiling as a superior perimeter to career progression. The glass ceiling is especially forced upon women, although it is not willingly professed or explicitly agreed that the glass ceiling really exists in society (2004). The glass ceiling holds women back from moving ahead into upper ranking places within their career. The reason is sociological margins that have the consequence of restricting women in their chances for further career development. The glass ceiling however does not only affect women (Coyne et al, 2004). If the glass ceiling is recognized society can come closer to breaking through. Instead of it being a glass ceiling it could be a wall that women and men are standing next to just waiting for a little more time to pass. The different positions within boxing were depicted in a pyramid by Christy Halbert (1997). Here is a version of the pyramid in table form:
Table 1: The different positions within boxing
The top position is
The second to top position is
The next lower position is
And the lowest yet most important is
The boxer is the most important position because like any business, if the top does not have the labor force to work for them (in this case the boxer), then there is no business. This table does not have a place for judges and referees; maybe they could be placed right under, above or with a promoter. The history of women’s boxing encounters women fighting (even in court) for the right to box, judge, referee, and promote. According to Hugh Townsend, Gloria Borden was the first Canadian female promoter and she did not have to start out as a boxer (2011).
Education is one way to break through the glass ceiling. However women tend to lean toward certain fields while men tend to lean more toward other fields. For example and this is where some stereotyping comes from; more women are nurses then men (this is considered a woman’s career field and is even depicted this way to children in school). Names of the position tend to lean more towards men than women and are depicted this way to children in school too, for example fireman and policeman. Women boxers are changing this to where boxing is no longer a career for men.
Women boxers must display their masculinity as well as their femininity. Christine Mennesson compared in her article the inequality faced by women being considered masculine if they compete in the sports of boxing and football, to males being considered feminine by participating in cheerleading (2000). Women Boxers must prove their femininity (in the ring and many find it simpler to outside of the ring by way of dressing). Male Cheerleaders must prove their masculinity within the sport by using their physical strengths, lifting the females etc. (Mennesson, 2000).
Origins and History of Women’s Boxing; in London 18th century through the 19th century
Despite the fact that women have fought in the sport/profession of boxing, also known as fighting with the fists, since the last part of the 1880s; women usually are stuck at the bottom positions within the sport/profession of boxing (Halbert, 1997). Mee called women “the fairer sex” (2001, p. 6); showing the idea that women are viewed differently than males.
Mee referenced a London Journal that was written in June of 1722. The journal described two women boxing with great force in the midst of a satisfied crowd (Mee, 1997). The first woman mentioned by Mee from the 1722 journal, was named Elizabeth Wilkinson; she was from Clerkenwell (1997). Wilkinson challenged a woman named Hannah Hyfield to three rounds however both women were in danger of going to jail if these women carried out an open brawl in front of society. Despite this, there was an announcement the next year suggesting that Wilkinson won the year before. The next year a woman named Martha Jones faced Wilkinson at a boarded house in Mary bone Fields and once more Wilkinson won the match, declaring herself the “City Championess” (Mee, 1997). In 1722 London, Elizabeth Wilkinson now calling herself the “Cockney Championess” fought and defeated Martha Jones (Sue, May 1998). Elizabeth Wilkinson was married by 1728, yet she was still fighting; now calling herself the “European Championess. She was challenged again by another woman named AnnField. This fight took place on October 7, 1728 at Wilkinson’s husbands’ booth located in Islington Road (Mee, 1997).
In August of 1972 another fight took place at Chelmsford for three quarters of an hour between two women, their husbands were by their sides (Mee, 1997). This is proof that in the early 18th century and 19th century- pugilism or the controlled sport/profession of boxing or fighting itself; if not at least the resolution of a disagreement with bare fists, along with having this as a source of entertainment all together; was sometimes acknowledged by some of society as practical even for woman (Mee, 1997). The fights in London in the 1720s between women were theatrical. The women did not only punch but they would thrust their legs with kicks and knees as well as pitch, claw, and cut their opponent; with bare- knuckles. The consequence was severe harm (Fox, May 1998).
3 Movements that Changed the U.S. and made Women’s Boxing Possible in America
Women moved into the sport of American Boxing. The first two movements created more equality between the races in men’s and women’s boxing. However the last movement is what really brought women into boxing. These three movements main purpose was to support ethical, just, moral and civilized restructuring in America (Library of Congress, 2012).
The first movement was a fight to put an end to slavery. This movement turned toward organizers for recommendations and support; George Thomas, who supported the anti-movement in Britain; was one leader focused on. America used extensive procedures from the anti-movement in Britain to create elimination to legal slavery in the United States. This movement took place in the 19th century (Library of Congress, 2010). According to Woodford, Bordin wrote that the expression new woman was initially thought up by Henry James in order to depict well-off, perceptive and free American immigrants in Europe (1994). Woodford also wrote, that Bordin said; the expression in the United States was connected with the fresh American professional woman, up-and-coming in growing figures in the final ten years of the 19th century (1994). This phrase describes women who box today. The movement to abolish legal slavery in the U.S. created equality within men’s boxing between races and helped to balance out equality for the races within women’s boxing. However, if it were not for future movements women’s boxing would still not be possible in America.
The second movement is known as the Civil Rights Movement and took place after World War II. After the abolishing of slavery African Americans still struggled for equal rights in America “the land of the free”. The Civil Rights movement fought for these equal rights sought by African Americans, seeking to prove that America is the land of the free. This time America looked to their own organizers, one well know example being Martin Luther King Jr., for support and recommendations (Library of Congress, 2010). According to the Library of Congress, “In a reversal of the roles played in nineteenth century abolitionism, British civil rights leaders employed American tactics and symbols… even the British opponents of minority rights modeled themselves after American extremist groups” (2010, p. 1).
The third, last and yet most important to this paper is the Women’s Suffrage Movement. The two movements before created the same equality when it comes to race for women as men but women themselves still did not and do not have completely equal rights compared to men. According to the Library of Congress, “The woman suffrage movement evolved over the course of the nineteenth century simultaneously with the power and prestige of the American nation, which by the end of the nineteenth century approached the power and prestige of Great Britain” (2010, p. 1). Women in America like Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, along with women from Britain like Cary Chapman Catt and Millicent Garrett Fawcett fought for more and won over women’s rights (Library of Congress, 2010).
Origins and History of Women’s Boxing; in the United States 19th and 20th century
According to Sue Fox, in her Women’s Boxing Archive Network or WBAN;
…there were various exhibitions and scattered bouts until the 1950's when several fighters, most notably Barbara Buttrick, JoAnn Hagen (Verhaegen), and Phyllis Kugler staged professional fights. The sport rekindled again in the 1970s thanks to the efforts of several important trailblazers. The 1970's, in particular, were highlighted by many women’s boxing "firsts" including many states lifting bans for women to box; issuing "first time" boxing licenses, sanctioning boxing matches; and the various commissions approving more than four rounds for women’s bouts (1998, p.1).
The first women’s boxing match in the United States was in 1876 at Hills Theater in NYC between Nell Saunders and Rose Harland (Fox, May 1998). In the 1880’s the first regulations were applied to the sport/profession of boxing (Fox, May 1998). Boxing for men was brought in to the Olympics in 1904; however women’s boxing was not included until a demonstration occurred after two more Olympic Games on the third, 1907 (Fox, May 1998). In the 1920s boxing was part of physical training for women in Boston (Fox, May 1998). One of the most well-known women boxers of all time, Barbara Buttrick was the earliest woman to have her match shown on national television; in 1954 (Fox, May 1998). Eva Shane broke through the glass ceiling. She was authorized to judge a professional match on Thanksgiving of 1975. On September 9, 1977 she judged in Madison Square Garden a fight between Muhammad Ali and Earnie Shavers; Shane’s first judging of a World Championship Match. Sadly, Eva Shane passed away after fighting cancer in August of 1999 (Fox, May 1998).
Caroline Svendsen was the first to obtain a recognized boxing license, 1975 in the U.S.; the state of Nevada. Pat Pineda was the first woman to become licensed in California, 1976. With a lawsuit in the state of New York, over women’s rights to gain boxing licenses; three prominent women boxers (Cathy "Cat" Davis, Jackie Tonawanda, and Marian "Lady Tyger" Trimiar) won over their rights and the right for other women (Fox, May 1998). Women’s boxing was illegal in Cumberland County from 1880 until early in 1977. After almost 100 years from the time of a qualified bout held in Fayetteville, NC; in 1997 the outlaw of women’s boxing was over ruled. Cathy "Cat" Davis and Margie Dunson fought that year (Fox, May 1998).
An amateur boxing program was started in Miami- Dade County in 1978. According to Miami- Dade County, the program was founded
…under the leadership of former amateur and professional boxer Dwaine Simpson, the Miami-Dade Parks Amateur Boxing Program has introduced thousands to the Olympic sport. The program is offered to participants from ten years of age and older and is geared to teach boxing for physical fitness and for competition, if desired. We also provide a ‘Women in Boxing Program’ for those interested. Approximately 70% participate only for exercise and conditioning. Over 13,000 members have registered in our amateur boxing program. Only 2% of our participants choose to become professional boxers. When they do, we see that they are directed toward the proper management and training (2012).
According to Miami- Dade County, the program is, “designed to give participants a feeling of self- worth as an individual and team player. During the most important teen years, this program will help youth and young adults to feel like productive citizens having participated in something rewarding and worthwhile,” (2012).
In 1979, the state of California had policies that held women boxers back by having them only fight four rounds. Shirley Tucker changed this by challenging the state of California with the support of the American Civil Liberties Union to allow women to fight longer (Fox, May 1998). In 1979, Foxy Boxing (women boxing in bikinis) was a huge controversial issue in Long Island and other parts of New York. In 1989, women again began the movement of boxing in Bikinis, in Hampton; with shows every week, lasting two hours; these women called themselves ‘foxy fighting knockouts’ (Fox, 1998). In 1980; “Don King addressed women’s boxing in the first women’s boxing magazine that was ever published! It was called the WBB, that was later renamed ‘WBB Glove’ (Fox, 1999). On April 27, 1987 Marian "Lady Tyger" Trimiar, a former World Women's Lightweight staged, “a well-publicized month long hunger strike, losing nearly 30 lbs., for the rights of women's boxing and to advocate better money and conditions for professional female boxers---even though she is protesting for others and not herself. Trimiar and others direct their protesting to the promoters at the time who were putting on televised cards. Trimiar tells the media, ‘Unless women get more recognition, we will be fighting just as a novelty for the rest of our lives. There will be no future’” (Fox, May 1998). Lady Tyger aimed her protest at Don King fighting for equal rights and pay for women (Fox, 1999). Lady Tyger wanted equal rights to pay for women boxers in order to close the gap in the affects of the glass ceiling.
In February of 1982 and at the age of 19; Jill Lafler filed a lawsuit in opposition to be the first female Golden Gloves contestant. Although she dropped her lawsuit she opened the door for another woman boxer to get in there and try (Fox, May 1998). Jill Lafler may have been knocked out of the Golden Gloves contest based on gender discrimination and by sexism but she opened the gates for future women boxers to knockout sexism.
On April 16, 1992, Gail Grandchamp from North Adams, Massachusetts won her battle that allowed her to box. After eight years in court, a state superior judge found and set into law that it was against the law to refuse anybody an opportunity to box solely founded on that individuals’ gender (Fox, May 1998); gender being the sex of an individual, and the masculinity or femininity. Women’s boxing was not well known and accepted in U.S. boxing until October of 1993. This was only after a milestone was reached in March of 1993 (Fox, May 1998).
In 1993, the original women’s amateur match took place in Bellingham, Washington; after the U.S. Boxing Board of Government judged in support of Dallas Malloy only 16 years old and approved laws and policies that applied the concept of female boxing. Malloy won with a split decision. This was the first amateur boxing match captured by the media. Malloy was one of the first woman boxers to confront U.S. boxing regulations and to take legal action in federal court based on gender discrimination. However, it is noted that in 1978 women’s amateur boxing did take place in Minnesota (Fox, May 1998). In June of 1993, Newman became the first woman to referee in an amateur boxing match. This took place at the National Level Junior Olympics. This was only capable after a court hearing in Aiken County; Jo-Ann versus Newman (Fox, May 1998). Today women’s boxing has increased in the number of members within this group with 763 members; there were less in 1996 with only 340 participants (Fox, May 1998).
A female named Dee Hamaguchi in 1994 applied for the position but when she mailed in her application she left out the sign that she was a female by only filling in her first initial for her name. Although she did not participate after all because of issues with making it to her physical exam; Dee Hamaguchi is recognized for opening the doors for women to compete in the Golden Gloves. Women began competing not long after that, in fact the next year; 1995 (Fox, May 1998).
Christy Martin and Deirdre Gogarty became famous on March 15, 1996 due to a brutal fight after the Mike Tyson and Frank Bruno match at a world-wide pay-per-view. The match between Martin and Gogarty, made the match between Tyson and Bruno look effortless; yet each man was paid more than each female. This match gained great media coverage (Fox, May 1998).
In July of 1997, America experienced its’ first Women’s National Championships as well as its’ first boxing match with (Loi Chow) a male and (Margaret McGregor) a female competing (Fox, May 1998). Muhammad Ali’s daughter, Laila Ali made her entrance into women’s professional boxing in October 1999 at the age of 21; calling herself ‘She-bee Stingin’. The fight was against April Fowler, in Verona, New York at the Turning Stone Casino. Ali has experienced more media attention than any other woman boxer from the past and present (Williams, 1998). Laila Ali’s most famous fight was against Joe Frazier’s daughter; Jacqui Frazier on June 8, 2001 in New York. The match lasted 8 rounds and Ali won (Williams, 1998). Jacqui Frazier was inspired by Laila Ali and yet wanted revenge for her father’s (Joe Frazier’s) losses to Laila Ali’s father (Muhammad Ali) and joined women’s boxing later in her life at 38 years; she is also an attorney (Professional Boxing Record, n.d.). Holly Holm and Chevelle Hallback each won the first ever WBAN belts after Holm defeated Mary Jo Sanders and Hallback defeated Jeanine Garside each in a ten round match. This happened on the Friday of June 13, 2008 (Fox, 2008).
Nisa Rodriguez is another woman boxer; she lives in the South Bronx of New York. She worked out at St. Mary’s Recreation Center across the street from where she lived in 2008. Nisa began going to the gym when she was 12 years old, when her father enrolled her into a boxing program held at NYCHA's Betances Community Center (Grosso, 2008). According to Nisa, ‘boxing saved her life’; before boxing she fought on the streets and in school (Grosso, 2008).
In 2008 at the age of 17 Nisa had participated in 7 official matches against other females and trained with males in the gym (unfortunately spars in the gym are not recorded). Nisa fought in the Women’s National Golden Gloves Competition, held July 8th through the 12th of 2008 in Florida; along with the Empire State Games held July 24th through the 26th of 2008 in Binghamton (Grosso, 2008). According to Grosso, “Other boxers stop working out and gather around the ring to watch Nisa. Her punches are too quick to capture on camera,” (2008). After Grosso interviewed Nisa, she wrote an article; in it Grosso wrote
Many people at the gym and in the community are supportive of Nisa and want her to succeed… Nisa says that as a woman it was especially hard for her to earn the respect of male boxers when she began boxing. But earning respect is not the only problem for female boxers like Nisa. Sparring matches with men do not count on her official record, and some women are afraid to get into the ring with her… For any athlete, competing in the Olympics is an indication that you have arrived, but for female boxers, that opportunity doesn't even exist (2008).
In 2008 Boxing was the only event without a women’s division (Grosso, 2008). Grosso wrote,
Nisa’s dream is to compete in London if the International Olympic Committee decides to add boxing to the roster of women's sports in the 2012 Games. Such recognition by the IOC would help to level the playing field economically between women's and men's boxing. Women's boxing is not as commercially popular as men's boxing, which means that women boxers also tend to make less money than their male counterparts (2008).
“Women’s boxing will make its’ Olympic debut in 2012” (Mobile County Alabama, 2011), meaning not only will women’s boxing be in the London Olympics this year but this will be the very first year that women are accepted in the boxing division. Women’s as well as men’s tryouts will be held in Mobile, Alabama; for the 2012 London Olympics (Mobile County Alabama, 2011). This year of 2012 Nisa has her chance to go to the Olympics after all.
Men and Women’s Boxing can even be found within the Armed Forces
According to Armed Forces Sports, in 2010 a boxing Championship competition was held for the military (2010). According to Elliott Fabrizio, “The Marine Corps team won the 2012 Armed Forces Boxing Championship Feb. 3, ending the Army’s 20-year winning streak” (2012). Not only enlisted military compete in these competitions, civilians can join too. In 2011, a civilian woman by the name of Fast Katz's Patricia Cuevas competed and won against a U.S. Navy Master female by the name of Rhonda McGee (Fabrizio, 2012).
Some latent, negative, and medical effects that boxing can have on both men and women
(1) Brain Damage
Many people relate brain damage with boxing (Davis Boxing Club, nd.). According to Eric Chudler from the University of Washington
…approximately 20% of professional boxers suffer chronic traumatic brain injury. These brain injuries are caused by repeated hits to the head. The severity of the symptoms (e.g., reduced mental ability, speech problems, lack of coordination) depends on the number of blows to the head, how long a boxer has fought, the skill of the boxer and the ability to take a punch” (2006).
He wrote how in Sweden a research study guided by Henrik Zetterberg, carrying an M.D. and Ph.D.; was completed in order to see if the affects are the same for amateur boxers even though they have more safety gear than professionals and since their matches are shorter. According to Chudler, the researchers
…collected cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) from 14 amateur boxers (11 men, 3 women) seven to ten days after a fight and then again after three months of rest following the fight. The CSF from the boxers was compared to the CSF collected from 10 healthy men who were not boxers. The researchers examined the CSF from all subjects for chemicals that would indicate injury to neurons and glial cells… Evidence of brain damage was found even after three months of rest… some damage can be repaired over time (Chudler, 2006).
According to the Davis Boxing Club, amateur boxing takes greater precautions than professional boxing. For example, mouthpieces are a requirement throughout the whole match. Also mandatory are head gear and gloves produced to absorb shock, amateur women boxers must wear breastplates, and the referees have more power over the match (Davis Boxing Club, n.d.). The Davis Boxing Club found that the 1996 Accident Report of the National Safety Council ranked amateur boxing at 23rd on its’ list of injuries. The fatality rates compared to other sports were listed by Davis Boxing Club; the rates were per 100,000 participates. The results were: Horseracing with the highest fatality rates (128), Sky-diving (123), Hang gliding (55), Mountaineering (51), Scuba diving (11), Motorcycle racing (7), College Football (3), and last yet most important for this paper is Boxing (1.5) the lowest one in the list (n.d.).
Boxing is not the only sport that can cause brain damage. Soccer, Football, Hockey, Rodeo, and Wrestling (n.a., n.d.) are only some examples of other sports that cause brain damage. One author wrote an article of the affects of brain damage on soccer players mainly when they hit the ball with their head (n.a., n.d.). This author discussed how most of the soccer injuries affect the legs and the feet, usually 50 to 80 percent. “However, the American Academy of Pediatrics concluded that the contact that occurs while playing soccer is at the same level as during boxing… Head injuries account for between 4% and 22% of all soccer injuries” (n.a., n.d., p. 1). According to this same author reviewed, a concussion can happen if a person’s head hits something at the point where the individual can suffer from confusion, memory loss, and possibly be knocked unconscious or later become unconscious. Concussions happen in 2 or 3 percent of all the injuries that occur in the soccer sport, the same percent as Football in America (n.a., n.d.). In a study referenced by the author reviewed; the researchers found that
…the most common cause of the concussions was when one player’s head struck the head of another player… also the most common source of concussions in a group of soccer players at the US Olympic Sport Festival in 1993… The second most common cause of concussions occurred when a ball struck a player's head… kicked from close range… In many cases, the ball traveled so quickly the player did not have time to react. NONE of the concussions were caused by proper heading of the ball… Heading the ball, however, is not without consequences. A player may head the ball many times during practice sessions and about eight times during a game. Many players at the 1993 US Olympic Festival experienced headaches after heading the ball. These headaches lasted from a few seconds to several days (n.a., n.d.).
Boxers taking punches to the head can be the equivalent of a soccer player taking a soccer ball the head. “Soccer balls kicked by highly skilled players can travel over 100 km/hour. Although these ball speeds are not reached during most recreational games, some people believe that young players should wear protective helmets…” (n.a, n.d., p. 2). The author mentions another study performed in Norwegian; this study tested the neuropsychological effects of brain damage within soccer players whose position was to hit the ball with their head known as ‘heading the ball’ (n.a., n.d.).
Some suggestions from the author reviewed that can be related to boxing in general but in this case women’s boxing are: “Players should have proper instruction on the correct way to head the ball” (n.a., n.d.). Women boxers as well as male boxers should have proper training on how and where to throw a punch and how and where to take a punch. “The ball should be the appropriate size for the age of the players. Smaller balls are less likely to cause injury. Also, make sure the ball is inflated properly” (n.a., n.d.). Women as well as men boxing have weight limits already. “Use "no heading" rules for younger players. If a player is not allowed to head the ball, the ball is less likely to hit a player's head” (n.a., n.d.). Same goes for boxing if a boxer does not know how or where to punch they should not throw a punch; then he or she should learn defense by blocking and if a boxer does not know how or where to take a punch then he/she should not be taking a full force punch; especially to the head. “Use padded goal posts” because some of the injuries to the head are caused by soccer players running into the goalposts (n.a., n.d.). Discussed before, amateur boxers have more equipment to keep them safer than professional boxers use. What if professional boxers trained with some if not similar equipment?
In April of 1993 a supreme world title holder was discovered to have HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This is the upset it took to open up the worlds’ eyes and “address the problem of the AIDS epidemic, and to seriously consider measures to prevent the spread of the disease in the sport” (Blewett, 2000, p. 9).
Blewett wrote; “…after a study conducted by the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention, there has never been a documented case of HIV transmission during an athletic competition in the 15 year history of the AIDS epidemic. CDC scientists estimate the chances of a professional athlete contracting the virus at 85 million to one” (2000, p. 13). However numerous past boxers have lost their chances and even belts because of this deadly disease; in order to prevent other boxers, referees, and other participants from catching the HIV virus that has the latent affects of AIDS. Dr. Edwin Cambell believed, ‘If we discover boxers who have AIDS, we’d have to exclude them [the boxer with HIV or AIDS). We’d have to protect the other boxers’ (Blewett, 2000, p. 9). This would be in the best interest of the public and that is usually what is considered in a case like this. Some examples of boxers excluded from boxing due to the testing of HIV and AIDS are: The past World Heavy Weight Champion- Tommy Morrison and the former WBC Super Bantamweight Champion Paul Banke, “both chose to make public disclosures themselves” (Blewett, 2000, p. 12). The first to lose his World Championship Title- after testing positive for HIV, after six tests and before a match to defend his title in England against John Davis in April of 1993; was Ruben Palacios (Blewett, 2000). “Eduardo Castro had twice fought in California in 1991 even though the Nevada State Athletic Commission had already discovered he was HIV- positive and had advised all other commissions” (Blewett, 2000, p. 12). Although, this is not saying he had HIV or AIDS he only rejected a test for the virus. This poses a problem in boxing when it comes to AIDS. Confidentiality is huge in American culture, especially when it comes to something as sensitive and deadly as AIDS. The “African heavyweight Proud Kilimanjaro was among the first to be refused permission to box in Britain because of his reluctance to submit an HIV test” (Blewett, 2000, p. 12). As for women boxers, past or present having AIDS; Blewett did not mention.
In February of 1987 New Jerseys’ Athletic Commission commissioned that all referees must put on sterile gloves in the ring, however the chairman Larry Hazzard told the public the gloves were for hygiene purposes (Blewett, 2000, p.9). Dr. Ferdie Pacheco, a “well-known American cornerman [sic] and boxing analyst” (Blewett, 2000, p.9) disagreed with New Jerseys’ prevention plan; he claimed that “the surgical gloves would remain sterile only as long as they were in a sterile environment” (Blewett, 2000, p.9). As soon as the referee touched something that was not sterile, like the rope to get into the ring; the gloves were no longer sterile. Also the gloves would not prevent other cuts on the referee from being infected nor the boxers from infecting each other. New York’s State Athletic Commission’s Medical Advisory Board also suggested using sterile gloves as well as mandatory HIV-testing of boxers (Blewett, 2000). The Boxing board of Control in Britain also implemented similar prevention ideas. Later California and Massachusetts started practicing the testing for HIV and AIDS in their boxers (Blewett, 2000).
Positive Medical Affects for Women Boxers and a Review of Studies Performed
The first study found and reviewed here was written by Chatterjee et al from the University of Kalyani, Sports Authority of India', & University of Calcutta in India (2006). The study was performed on 45 women in India in order to test their physical shape; the study was designed as a Boxing Training Camp for women (Chatterjee et al, 2006). All the women were approximately 19 years of age, about 5 ½ feet tall, and weighed roughly 125 pounds (Chatterjee et al, 2006). Throughout the training/study the women increased 14 percent in strength, 74 percent in technique, and 8 percent in speed/endurance (Chatterjee et al, 2006). “Training was of six days a week, two sessions daily for four days and only one session for two days during the first two weeks of the camp. Each session was of 1-hour and 30-minute duration on an average” (Chatterjee et al, 2006, p. 5) and lasted six weeks (Chatterjee et al, 2006). The researchers monitored each woman’s individual
…maximum heart rate, Recovery heart rate, and maximum ventilation… Maximum O2 consumption and related cardio-respiratory variables… Sub maximal heart rate 1 [and 2]… Recovery responses… O2 debt determination… calculated from oxygen consumption during recovery period and resting oxygen consumption value… Basal Heart Rate… Training (Chatterjee et al, 2006, p. 3).
The second study reviewed here was first written by Trutschnigg et al in 2008. The study’s purpose was to try and determine if there is a correlation between the facts that “Female Boxers have high bone mineral density despite low body fat mass, high energy expenditure, and a high incidence of oligomenorrhea” (Trutschnigg et al, 2008, p. 1). According to Trutschnigg et al if a woman has a regular menstrual cycle with gaps of 28 days it is known as eumenorrhea; however some women boxers have experienced oligomenorrhea (2008, p. 2). According to Trutschnigg et al the word oligomenorrhea means “cycles at internals of more than 35 days” (2008, p.2). In 1997 and 2007, The American Society of Sports Medicine or ACSM recognized the necessity for further research on the correlation between bone mineral density, energy accessibility, and the function of a woman’s menstrual cycle (Trutschnigg et al, 2008). However from this study and others like it; it is apparent that many women boxers have experienced oligomenorrhea, bone mineral density, and energy accessibility and outflow. It is not apparent that each are correlated much less a causation of the other(s) (Trutschnigg et al, 2008). The bone mineral density and energy outlay may be two positive aspects about women’s boxing however oligomenorrhea can become negative for an individual and is a concern.
Since the beginning of time humans have had, and still have; free-will. Humans have the capability of making choices unless held back physically or restrained mentally. Then, the ones restraining and holding back the others have the free-will not too; therefore making a decision that could affect someone else’s life. Sexism, discrimination, gender-bias, all types of inequality; have held women boxers back physically and restrained them mentally. Today there has been change to this, however not complete but future change is more possible now due to changes in the past, present, and future. It may have been a sin for Eve (a woman) to taste the forbidden fruit, however Adam (a man) followed and these actions changed the world. Some may view women’s boxing as a sin but what is a sin for women is a sin also for men. Like Adam followed Eve out of temptation, curiosity, and then free-will; women will follow men into boxing for the same reasons. Men changed sports with boxing, now women have and continue to transform the idea of sports. Past women boxers have been role models for present female boxers. Even if women boxing were legalized everywhere, the idea of women in history fighting with their fists against sexism, gender-bias, discrimination, racism, and the glass ceiling- inequalities of all types faced by women- not only in boxing but other professions, and life itself; will be remembered. It is ethnocentric to think that an individual is otherwise group are better than any other individual/group; especially if that individual/group does not belong to that particular group or relate with or else have similar characteristics as the other person.
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