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Record Entry For Women's World Championships in Jeju
by Michael O'Neill
November 11, 2014
Courtesy photo/Taylor


(NOV 11)  WBAN understands - albeit no confirmation or Press Release on the subject (as the time of writing) from the AIBA that the organisation has received some 480 entries from 75 countries for this year's 8th Edition of the AIBA Women's World Elite Championships in Jeju, South Korea.

Among the Gold medallists when the championships were first held, in Scranton, USA in 2001 was India's MC Mary Kom, sadly missing this year due to injury. Among names who have made an impact in boxing since those first World's are: Jeannine Garside, Eva Walstroem, Frida Wallberg, Irina Sinetskaya, Anna Laurell, Myriam Lamare, Tatyana Chalaya and of course MC Mary Kom and Sarita Devi.

Also in the Indian team that year was one Sarita Devi Laishram - another who is absent this year - for the first time - due to her suspension by the AIBA following the scenes in Incheon when she refused to accept the medal she had 'won' following her 'defeat' by the host nation's Jina Park in Incheon.

You will recall reading here on WBAN that this year for the first time, Uganda were hoping to field a women's team at the Championships but later that historic journey seemed in doubt due to 'funding' issues.

The 'Kampala Observer' has just reported that the trip is 'back on' and that the team and officials including five boxers are now able to compete after all.

According to the 'Observer', the Ugandan Boxing Federation now had a budget of $15,000 (approximately Shs 40 million) to cater for five boxers and their coach’s travel, allowances and pre-championship preparations.

Two of the boxers, Hellen Baleke and Diana Tulyanabo underwent an additional one week of training in the high-altitude environs of Kasese, as this was deemed necessary due to weight issues.

The paper said that 'Baleke, who is entered to compete in the welterweight (69kg) category, weighed 80kg while Tulyanabo had to shed off at least five kilograms to make the middleweight (75kg) class'.

Such weight issues so close to the Championships surely re-emphasise just why there needs to be ten weight classes for future Olympic Games.

News today of a further boost for women's boxing in Ireland with record numbers joining clubs throughout the 32 counties, affiliated to the AIBA.

The 'Irish Examiner' says that 'the Katie Taylor effect' has seen women of all ages and walks of life enter the boxing ring in their droves to get fit, gain confidence and relieve stress.

Surprisingly large numbers went further and remained in boxing. One such boxer now is Niamh Durack who told the Examiner :" “I never experienced exercise like it,” she says. “I was always fit, but with the boxing training my body shape changed and I became more toned and shapely,” adding that the sport has many other benefits. “There’s a good social aspect to it, it’s a great stress-reliever and it’s challenging and different.”

Irish Head Performance Unit coach, Billy Walsh, who leads the Irish team in Jeju added: "

“Over the last few years there’s been a big uptake, particularly amongst women coming in from other sports,” says Walsh who believes it has come on the back of Katie Taylor’s successes many successes both before and after the London 2012 Olympics.

One county that has since a big increase is Cork where County Board official Mick O'Brien told the Examiner :

“This year Cork won 20 all-Ireland titles and four or five of those were won by women representing the city and county. Katie Taylor has been a major influence — young women are attracted to the sport because of her,” says O’Brien.

Females now make up about 20%-25% of overall membership — eight years ago that figure would have been about five per cent, says O’Brien, whose own board represents 31 clubs throughout the region,

“That’s a very big jump, and central to it is Katie Taylor,” he feels.
Younger boxers too, like Christine Desmond have had an impact since London 2012. Desmond took silver at a recent AIBA Youth Championships and represented Ireland at the Nanjing Youth Olympics this year, where boxing was included for the first time.
The 5ft 10 inches, 18-year-old, from Kilnamartyra, is a World Youth silver medallist, and has 10 Irish titles, including an intermediate, an under-22 and two under-18s. She came fourth in the Youth Olympics, in China, last August, and also holds a bronze European medal.

Christine Desmond/Katie Taylor (photos:(c) Irish Examiner)

Though Taylor is indeed her inspiration, Desmond started at eight, after watching her twin brother, Michael, in the local boxing club. “Michael and I always did everything together, so I went along to see what it was like,” she says. She won her first All-Ireland medal at 13.“Many people cannot understand why a girl would box,” says Desmond.

She has though experienced negativity to as she told 'the Examiner' . When she was 15, some boys sneered. Some still do. “They’d be offering to fight me, but I just laugh at them; I don’t rise to it. The boxing community really respects me.

It’s usually just fellas outside the community who seem to want to take me on or put me down. I think they feel a bit threatened — I don’t generally get it from boys I know. It’s more from fellas I don’t know”.

The benefits of the sport are fantastic, she says. “The fitness and the discipline are marvelous — boxing requires you to be really fit and you learn good defence skills. It’s also a great confidence booster. I’m strong and confident about myself. I’d recommend boxing for girls, not just for the physical fitness, but it’s very good psychologically- if you have a bad day, you can take it out on the bag.” Christine is now herself aiming for future Olympic glory.


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