[Updates] History in the Making: Top 5 Women Olympic Boxers to Watch
(Editor's Note: For people who have never been a fan of women's boxing before, give it a watch at the London Olympics. You'll be impressed with what you see. Two USA women were in action Monday - Marlen Esparza and Claressa Shields, coming off first round byes and both won their matches. The tournament concludes on August 9th with the Gold Medal match. ~js)
While big names like Pacqiao and Mayweather kept men’s boxing in the online conversation during 2009, women’s boxing finally got some press with the August 13th announcement from International Olympic Committee chair Jacques Rogge, telling the world that the 2012 London Olympics would be the first to feature women competing in every single sport, including the final holdout sport of boxing.
In general, it's fairly exciting news that the entire 2012 US Olympic team will have more women competing this year than men; that's a first, and a proud tribute to the 40-year anniversary of Title IX, the landmark law that assured more athletic opportunities for millions of girls and women across the United States. In all, there will be 286 boxers, with 36 of them women. The U.S. will be sending a total of three female fighters: Marlen Esparza, Claressa Shields and Queen Underwood.
Limitations Opportunities for Growth
Yes, the women have only 3 weight divisions -- flyweight (106-112 pounds), lightweight (123-132 pounds), and middleweight (152-165 pounds) -- to the men's 10 weight divisions.
No, we won't be required to wear skirts in the ring.
Right now there is still only one photo of female contenders on the official Olympic website boxing "featured photos" page. Maybe that will change soon; this is history in the making after all.
And in a related note, one hopes that the women's boxing teams will not have to fly coach while the men's teams go first class, like Australia's female soccer and basketball teams and the Japanese women's Olympic soccer team. Sigh.
Finally, while I was thrilled to hear that Afghanistan was working to field a team of Olympic hopefuls, I was deeply disappointed when top favorite Sadaf Rahimi lost her only chance at a wild card invite(a special berth granted to nations that would not otherwise be able to qualify).
Her performance at the women’s world boxing championships in China was not promising, with her fight being stopped short a minute and 20 seconds into the first round because she was doing so poorly. Next time, maybe these incredible women will get more resources and have a better shot at qualification.
The women's Olympic boxing rounds begin on August 5th (Round of 16), and continue on August 6th (Quarterfinals), August 8th (Semifinals), and end on August 9th (Finals). NBC will will televise 73 total hours of boxing coverage over 16 days, from elimination bouts to the men’s and women’s finals. Same-day coverage will air from 2 to 5 p.m. during the week, with six hours of live coverage airing each day on the weekends.
To satisfy cable and satellite operators, NBC is requiring viewers to prove that they have a cable or satellite subscription in order to access the online options. Which sucks for people like me, who don't have a television at all. You can bet I'll be looking for other options. You can find the full boxing schedule as well as the fight results on the London 2012 website.
THE WOMEN TO WATCH -->