The sweetest victory of all

How many of us thought we’d never see the day?

How many of us knew talented female boxers who were not getting any recognition? How many women walked away from boxing because there were no opportunities, no opponents, no championship medals or because it was illegal, denigrated, dismissed, disparaged, ridiculed? How many never even started because they were told they couldn’t or shouldn’t?

Well look at us now, baby. Sell-out crowds. Dangerous decibels of enthusiasm.

ImageThree Olympic champions with bright, shiny young faces! Beautiful, smiling, winning faces! These are three resounding responses to all those years of doubt and they have gone beyond merely boxing well and skilfully. This is a stupendous victory for every one of us who has laced on gloves and stepped through those ropes, risking so much more than defeat and injury. Who have shrugged off suggestions that we are too frail, too feeble, too vulnerable and generally incapable.

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Who would have thought the story would get so big. So much bigger than the one-woman show that boxing has often been cast as. OK so she might be good at it but the rest of you have no chance. These Olympic boxers were spectacular, pitching their substantial talents against each other, raising the bar higher and higher for those who will follow. Inspiring young female boxers the world over. The bouts were competitive, thoughtful, skilful and dynamic. These bright and entertaining personalities came through with distinction and exemplary sportsmanship. This IS a marketable sport. These women have more charisma than female tennis players. More guts, more power, more character! How can you not sell these extraordinary athletes, with their physical dexterity and their beautiful smiles!

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These three historic Olympic gold medallist – Nicola Adams, Katie Taylor and Claressa Shields – represent the culmination of a long battle by people like Lucia Rijker, Barbara Buttrick, Christy Halbert, Bonnie Canino, Jane Couch, Terri Moss, Bettan Andersson, Sue TL Fox of the website WBAN and many others who have always had faith that women can do it. They have kept that faith and channelled their considerable energy into the next generation. If we keep it up, women will own boxing. And that will be the sweetest victory of all!

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About mischamerz

Mischa Merz is an Australian journalist, author, amateur boxer and painter. She is the author of the memoir, The Sweetest Thing, published by Seven Stories Press as well as Bruising, published in Australia first by Picador then re-issued by Vulgar Press in 2008. She has written for a range of newspaper, magazines, specialist publications, literary journals and websites. She lives in Melbourne with her husband Peter.
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