Boxing Toward the Olympics

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Tyrieshia Douglas listens to Coach Calvin Ford before stepping into the ring to face her opponent. (Sue Jaye Johnson)

Men have boxed in the Olympic games since the ancient Greeks adopted the sport more than two thousand years ago. Women, never. That changes this year, when women enter the Olympic boxing ring for the first time.

The Women Box series follows female Olympic boxing contenders on their journey to the London games. The stories explore aggression and desire in the lives of girls; what turns a woman into a fighter; and what it takes to make a female champion.

The Long Road

It has taken decades of activism and lawsuits for women to break into the amateur boxing world. This summer women's boxing will make its debut at the Games in London. For the women who are aiming to make history, there is still a long road ahead. Twenty four Olympic hopefuls will compete in February outside of Spokane, WA, for a berth on the US team. Three will make it.  

And that’s not all. To make it all the way to the Olympics, those three women will have to compete with contenders from around the world at the 2012 Women's World Championship in Qinhuangdao, China. Only the top eight women in each weight class will have a chance to showcase their talent, skill and determination in the 2012 Olympic games.

Follow The Fighters

Follow along as we continue to update their stories here and at, and through Twitter, Facebook and podcasts during the month of February. Join us at The Greene Space on February 10 for a conversation about women boxers with Rosie Perez, a 16 year old Olympic hopeful and a four-time world champion.

Photo by Sue Jaye Johnson

WOMEN BOX:  Fighting to Make History is a collaboration of WNYC, NPR, The New York Times, and  The Greene Space. 
Sue Jaye Johnson - Producer and Photojournalist
Marianne McCune - Producer and Radio Reporter 
Ann Heppermann - Audio Editing 
Emily Botein - Audio Editing
Joe Richman and Samara Freemark/Radio Diaries - Audio Editing 
Sanda Htyte - Video editing
Lisa Polen - Web Production
Karen Frillmann - Editor
Indira Etwaroo - Greene Space Executive Producer
Kathleen Ehrlich - WNYC's Director of Digital Content 


WOMEN BOX: Fighting to Make History is a collaboration of WNYC, NPR, The New York Times, and The Jerome L. Greene Performance Space. 


Sue Jaye Johnson: Producer and Photojournalist

Marianne McCune: Producer and Radio Reporter 

Ann Heppermann: Audio Editing 

Emily Botein: Audio Editing

Joe Richman and Samara Freemark/Radio Diaries: Audio Editing 

Lisa Polen: Web Production

Karen Frillmann: Editor

Indira Etwaroo: Executive Producer, The Jerome L. Greene Performance Space

Kathleen Ehrlich: Director of Digital Content, WNYC

Elizabeth Zagroba: Quality Assurance Manager, New York Public Radio


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Comments [5]

Paul from Boston, MA

This also means some of these ladies are going to turn up later in life with chronic traumatic encephalopathy from all the blows to the head.

Will we ever learn?

Feb. 08 2012 01:00 AM
dena paolino from Boston, MA

STRIKING BEAUTIES is the first all-female, 24-7 boxing gym for women. We encourage women and girls to try boxing for fitness and we support and train aspiring female amateur boxers.

Coincidentally, we opened in 2009 - one month before the Olympic committee made the historic (and overdue) decision to allow women to box in the Olympics.

Over the past 2 years, we have traveled around the country with several of our girls boxing in the National Golden Gloves, the National P.A.L.S tournament, the Nationals in Colorado Springs. I have had the great pleasure of watching these passionate young women - Liz Leady, Mikaela Mayer, Bertha Aracil, Tiara Brown and many, many more- step into the ring and prove that's where women belong!

Today, after just over 2 years, STRIKING BEAUTIES is just starting to franchise across the country and as we do, we want to extend an offer to each and every amateur female boxer that is living their dream to be in the Olympics. We want to support you in any way we can. The more we grow, the more we will do for women's competitive boxing. To each and every female amateur boxing, we offer you the opportunity to be the "Face of Striking Beauties, the Face of Women's Boxing" and be aligned with one of our gyms across the country. This offer entails a multitude of business, financial and media opportunities.

Get ready world... the women are coming and they are strong, sexy and invincible!

Feb. 03 2012 09:06 PM
Sheila from New Jersey

Every time I hear the teaser for the Greene Space event it reminds me of a science fiction novel I read last year -- "Santa Olivia" by Jacqueline Carey. Yes, she's the same person who writes the fantasy/soft porn novels set in an alternative world where the Yeshuites (Christians) are a minor Jewish sect, the gods demonstrably exist, and the major religion in Terre D'Ange (France) is based on sexual freedom in all its combinations.

In "Santa Olivia" The Wall has been built between the United States and Mexico, and boxing is a metaphor for life.

Feb. 01 2012 12:46 AM
ceylon mooney

this is great. i have been a half-assed boxing fan for ages and have always wanted to know more about women's boxing than leila ali. this is something i've been dying to know more abou, and it bothers me that there are no women on the matches i see on tv. we DO have history in the making here, and i don't wanna miss a thing. thanks for covering this.

Jan. 29 2012 11:45 AM

Thank you for putting this fabulous series together! Women's boxing has been around for centuries and yet it seems we have forgotten the role of women in the sport since its early heyday in 18th Century London!

The young women training to represent the United States in the debut of women's boxing as a fully competitive sport in the Olympics is momentous. Kudos to WNYC for recognizing and supporting these remarkable athletes! As a blogger in support of women's boxing, I am personally heartened to see such media outlets at WNYC picking up the mantle of publicizing their the hard work and efforts of these remarkable women.

Jan. 27 2012 06:18 AM

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