Bad hair days

Cassy Lear (left) and Brown (right) hard at work.

Cassy Lear (left) and Brown (right) hard at work. Picture: Marty Camilleri.

A bad hair day took on a whole new meaning for Omeo based 75kg boxer Cassy Lear in her Victorian state title bout on Sunday (December 16) against Warrnambool based  Gabrielle Brown.

Your hair can lose you a fight, so be warned women boxers with lengthy tresses.

Both of these formidable women had travelled far and were working like trojans against each other in a close fight. Brown was the aggressor for much of the fight, keeping the pressure on a normally fierce Lear who for the first time ever seemed to be boxing on the back foot.

But still she was ahead on the cards. The result could have gone either way.

But then came the matter of hair, not one of the most likely determiners of winning or losing a fight you might think. But when it starts to come loose from the headguard, more than ten centimetres below the base of the neck or flying out the top, whipping around causing a potential hazard, then you are in trouble. You’re committing a foul. And in this case the referee Shane Bell decided that he needed to enforce the rule and deducted points from both fighters during the course of the fight, until it was literally down to the wire in the fourth round.

Then the warnings and the point deductions accumulated and resulted in a disqualification…for the winning fighter. Lear finished the fight that she lost at 20 points while Brown won the fight at 17 points.

At that stage of the fight neither woman could control what was going on with their hair and it was a lottery as to who would be the one to fall to the ref’s call. He admitted later that it could have been either one of them.

Lear said this week that she knew nothing about the rule and had had worse hair problems – ‘it was going everywhere’ –  in previous fights and never been warned before.

‘It was a bit rough, I thought. I felt monumentally ripped off actually. I didn’t think my hair was out that much actually,’ said Lear.

It was Lear’s 9th fight since she began in 2010 and Brown’s second outing.

‘It was a lot harder than I thought it was going to be,’ said Lear, ‘But I knew I had it until then. It was just not fair, especially when no one told me about the rule.’

And the rule is, in fairness, pretty hard to find in the BA rule book, although it’s a well known regulation internationally, which is why you see women boxers so often enter the ring wearing a hair net or cloth to contain it. It’s not just a fashion statement. You can see Queen Underwood (below) is taking no chances.

USA Boxing's 60kg Olympic boxer Queen Underwood took no chances with her hair.

USA Boxing’s 60kg Olympic boxer Queen Underwood took no chances with her hair.

State champion Simone Bailey wasn’t prepared to take any risks either in her bout against Rosie Aaiva and decided to wear a shower cap. And it did the job well.

Caz Pruden, who probably has more and longer hair than any female boxer on the planet said she had never been pulled up by a ref. She goes the way of corn rows and tons of hairspray, a big plait down the back folded in on itself.

Whatever the method, get that hair under control. You don’t want to be feeling like Cassy Lear does right now!

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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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