Streams

Why Would a Woman Want to Box?

Sunday, January 29, 2012

LISTEN to the national broadcast on NPR.

This summer in London, women will box in the Olympics for the first time. The boxers competing for a spot on the US team will make history – but few know who they are or why they box. Images of women boxers range from girls throwing soft punches in bikinis and lipstick to women who look and act like men. The Olympic hopefuls are neither--but everything in between.

Women who box love it for many of the same reasons guys do. Boxing requires intense physical and psychological discipline and the ability to overcome fear and anger.

“I think boxing is therapeutic,” lightweight boxer Bertha Aracil said in her basement apartment in the Bronx. “It keeps you under control. You know? It controls your body.”

Any good boxer derives that kind of satisfaction. Here’s what’s different for a woman: she’s taking on a challenge no one expects her to.

USA Boxing Coach Gloria Peek calls boxing the “last great domain of men.”

“I think women are the fiercest competitors there are,” Peek said at a training camp for the some of the 24 women competing to make the US Olympic team. “But they’ve been taught to suppress a lot of things. ‘It’s not lady like.’”

Listen to some of the Olympic hopefuls talk about the joy of exploiting their most ‘feminine’ and most ‘masculine’ sides in life and in boxing.

Bertha Aracil is one of 24 women who will be competing for 3 spots on the first USA Women’s Olympic Boxing Team.

Bertha Aracil is one of 24 women who will be competing for 3 spots on the first USA Women’s Olympic Boxing Team. “Boxing is not a soft sport. I don’t believe it’s a violent sport but it’s not a soft sport. You gotta have guts to go in the ring and throw a punch and receive one.”

Bertha defeated Liz Leddy at the Police Athletic League Tournament in Toledo, OH in October, 2011 to qualify for the Olympic Trial Team.

Bertha defeated Liz Leddy at the Police Athletic League Tournament in Toledo, OH in October, 2011 to qualify for the Olympic Trial Team. “When I land a punch, I feel like I’m controlling her,” Aracil says. “‘You weren’t supposed to let me punch you there.”

Bertha often travels to tournaments with her infant niece and nephew who she tends to between fights.
Sue Jaye Johnson
Bertha often travels to tournaments with her infant niece and nephew who she tends to between fights.
Bertha loves to cook for her large Cuban family. “Cooking relaxes me, it makes me happy.”
Sue Jaye Johnson
Bertha loves to cook for her large Cuban family. “Cooking relaxes me, it makes me happy.”
Julia Irman won the German National Championship three weeks after giving birth to her son. Here she poses with a young fan. “In a couple years I want to have another child. A girl. A boxer like me.”
Sue Jaye Johnson
Julia Irman won the German National Championship three weeks after giving birth to her son. Here she poses with a young fan. “In a couple years I want to have another child. A girl. A boxer like me.”
Franchon Crews backstage before her championship fight at the USA National Tournament in Colorado in June 2011. She won.

Franchon Crews backstage before her championship fight at the USA National Tournament in Colorado in June 2011. She won. “I’m not doing it for the camera, I got my team, my city, but at the end of the day, it’s me in there. It’s me.”

Franchon Crews trades punches at the International Duel in Oxnard, CA in November 2011. “I’m a champion in life, so that’s what gets me through.”
Sue Jaye Johnson
Franchon Crews trades punches at the International Duel in Oxnard, CA in November 2011. “I’m a champion in life, so that’s what gets me through.”
Franchon Crews during training.

I’m a very flamboyent person.  I’m the girl with the big personality so when I speak you are going to listen.  I hope to use that to change the world.

Franchon was a contestant on American Idol. She swore that if she didn’t make history singing she was going to do it boxing.

Franchon was a contestant on American Idol. She swore that if she didn’t make history singing she was going to do it boxing. She is ranked number one in the country. Here she entertains her teammates at a tournament.

Mikaela Mayer is one of 8 women competing for the middleweight.

Mikaela Mayer is one of 8 women competing for the lightweight (132/60kg). “I like the fact that I’m feminine outside on the streets.  I may not seem like a boxer, but really, I am a boxer. I can be a woman and an aggressive athlete.”

Mikaela Mayer winning her final bout at the Golden Gloves National Tournament to secure her place in the Olympic Trials.

Mikaela Mayer winning her final bout at the Golden Gloves National Tournament to secure her place in the Olympic Trials. She says she was a “bad kid” growing up - until she started spending Friday and Saturday nights at the gym.

Tiara Brown weighing in the morning of a fight. Boxers cannot be over the weight limit or they are disqualified.
Sue Jaye Johnson
Tiara Brown weighing in the morning of a fight. Boxers cannot be over the weight limit or they are disqualified.
Tiara Brown at the International Duel, Oxnard, CA 2011. “Boxing makes me believe that I can do anything.

Tiara Brown at the International Duel, Oxnard, CA 2011. “Boxing makes me believe that I can do anything. I feel like boxing is in my blood.  I am in love with it. I could be married to boxing.”

Tiara Brown says guys in the gym get jealous of her body. “I’ve got luscious lips and then I’ve got these guns on my arms.”

Tiara Brown says guys in the gym get jealous of her body. "I have abs of steel. And then I have these sexy luscious lips. And then I’ve got these guns on my arms. I'm a boxer. And I'm a girl boxer."

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Comments [1]

bridget wheeler from Marseilles il

My daughter is a female boxer and I am a VERY proud parent .
Boxing has taught my daughter many life skills.

Feb. 26 2014 03:23 PM

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