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Boxing History - Female Gold Medal

Updated on February 27, 2013

Women's Boxing

"Bennett Sisters" boxing bout around 1910 in the USA. Female boxing was illegal in UK until 1996. In Summer 2012, women boxed in the UK and won medals for their performances.
"Bennett Sisters" boxing bout around 1910 in the USA. Female boxing was illegal in UK until 1996. In Summer 2012, women boxed in the UK and won medals for their performances.

©August 12, 2012. Patty Inglish is the 9th Dan Grandmaster; Patron and Advisor to Team Nigeria Taekwondo and US Representative to the Supreme Council of Sports in Africa-Zone 3. She has trained athletes for 30 years.

Surprising Summer, Surprising Olympic History

It was a most unusual summer.

July 2012 was the hottest on record ever for the US Lower 48, while the Midwest experienced the wrath of the solar flares, storms, and power black outs that had been predicted for the London 2012 Games.

It was the first year that women would be included by all nations of the Games and in the events of Boxing and Wrestling. The media called USA Boxing's men the "winningest team ever" in the lead up to the Games. However, that comment proved false in 2012.

It is not odd enough that an American woman won the Gold Medal in Middleweight Boxing in the 2012 Summer Olympics while US Boxing's men's team won no medals -- Even so, it is odder that the female winner of the Gold Medal was not the specific woman touted for gold by the media, the boxing experts, and the laity.

This was a double surprise all around.

The pre-Games Vogue magazine photo layout did not help Marlen Esparza directly in the ring, but she did win the Bronze Medal in Women's Flyweight. However, she was picked for Gold by the public and the media, who were all encouraged by consistent promotional coverage of her and the photo spread of an attractive woman. They were all wrong. Still, the photo shoot helped to attract new viewers to the Olympics, which is a multimillion-dollar business.

"T-Rex" Shields


The winner of the Gold was not an attractive, small woman held up to the public in a photo layout. The winner was someone all the press and public had ignored - a hardworking 17-year-old high school junior who began to literally fight herself up out of the poverty of Flint, Michigan in a community gym at the age of 11. Where's HER magazine photo layout? It doesn't yet exist, because some think she looks too much like a man.

Quote from YahooSports:

Claressa Shields, still not old enough to vote, capped her surprising Olympic run Thursday by beating Russia's Nadezda Torlopova to win the first U.S. gold medal in women's boxing.

Two other women won Gold in their weight classes as well: Ireland's Katie Taylor and Britain's Nicola Adams. Women's boxing had been banned in Great Britain until 1996. Sixteen years later, women are winning gold medals in the sport.

Recall from the Past

Claressa could have performed a little differently in some respects and I won't use her age as an excuse. Her laughing on the Olympic Podium did not bother me; she'd overcome a difficult life and the many people telling her that she could not box worth a hoot. Sticking her tongue out at her Russian adversary, though, was uncalled for -- It reminds me of the attitude of Cassius Clay when he cavalierly no-showed for his appearance on the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson and Carson looked into the camera and told him never to attempt to return to the show.

Later, he did return and became Muhammad Ali, the 1960 Olympic Gold Medal Winner in Boxing who had a long and successful career, but was beaten in the head to the extent that he contracted Parkinson's.

Age 11 is young to begin training in a brutal sport, even as a way of honoring one's father who is in prison. Age 17 is young to win a Gold Medal in Boxing - the human body is not yet completely developed at that age. I surely do not want to see Claressa with Parkinson's in a few years, or in the dilemma of the heroine of Clint Eastwood's Million Dollar Baby - paralyzed and begging to die. I hope the sport takes care of her.

And if no one will offer her a photo layout, at least put her on a Wheaties Box.

"Only Old Women Watch the Olympics"

Beginning with the Olympic Games in the 2000s, the various media, besides NBC, began to focus on belittling the Summer and Winter Olympic Games as events watched "only by middle-aged and old women." These media went on to include in this category of failure, such reality shows as Dancing With the Stars, Live To Dance, The Sing Off, and several others.

Even if the reporting were true, it is difficult to conceive of female viewers as "only a small group", considering the huge numbers of Baby Boomer females around the world. Whatever the political motivation for charges of failure - whether it was a weak ploy to pry the coverage of the Olympics away form NBC or just what it was, viewership mix changed for certain in 2012.

Summer 2012 saw the very first instance of each and every participating nation including female athletes.

Of course, this would draw a greater number of male viewers, as well as larger numbers of female viewers. Both wanted to see this. Esparza's Vogue photo spread did a lot to help accomplish this increased viewership, as did commercials leading up to the Games that featured women athletes, double-amputee Oscar Pistorius, athletes returning for their 3rd or 4th Olympics, and competitors in their very first Games.

Record viewership was attained in these Olympic Games, as per YahooSports' Claudine Zaps:

"The London Games also had a record number of viewers, on average 31.1 million viewers in prime time, the most-watched non-U.S. summer games since Montreal in 1976, according to Forbes."

That was not just "old women" watching.


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    • Patty Inglish, MS profile imageAUTHOR

      Patty Inglish MS 

      6 years ago from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation

      That's good to hear about women's sports in Ireland! Boxing can be good in a lot of ways, except for the head shots.

      Even helmeted to the max, the brain bounces back and forth against the skull with each strike to the head. The brain can stand some of this, but after too many strikes, we get closed head brain damage that I have treated in a rehabilitation setting. So I say teach those boxers to duck every punch they can!

      Congratulations Ireland!

    • bredandagnes profile image


      6 years ago from Ireland

      Ireland's Katie Taylor's gold medal win in the London Olympics has done wonders for the image of Womens boxing here in Ireland.Young girls are turning up at boxing gyms all over the country and she is being hailed a role model for these young girls.It has become soooo cool.I personally am not a big fan but I think at that level they are well protected and the discipline and training they do can only be good for them.

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile imageAUTHOR

      Patty Inglish MS 

      6 years ago from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation

      Pretty bad. What's he doing now? He was in the news recently and I did not pay attention to the blurb.

    • Cardisa profile image

      Carolee Samuda 

      6 years ago from Jamaica

      I really started disliking Mike when he bit off his opponents ears...both times! Mike Tyson cannot box, he is a bully and coward. He has no stamina, that's why he aims for KO in the first round and if he doesn't achieve that he

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile imageAUTHOR

      Patty Inglish MS 

      6 years ago from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation

      Awesome comments, Ghost32, and you don't look like an old woman to me (lol). With record viewership among Olympic Games, 2012 hopefully proved the diversity of interest and viewing demographics.

      Personally, I'm glad Laila Ali retired from boxing without head injuries (that I know of), but don't know what to think of the show Stars Earning Stripes in which she appears. Aside from offending some servicemen and women and some of their supporters, I think it might be good, tough competition that shows what some people can accomplish and shuts some other people up. Lord knows some people need to shut up, because they aren't saying anything anyway.

      This morning, a radio talk show host suggested that elections be decided by a boxing match between candidates. That might be interesting.

      I always liked Joe Frasier, but the one match I saw of Tyson's lasted just a few seconds and I think it was a publicity stunt, despite other opinions. One of the most foolish wastes of time I've ever seen. I never liked him or his style, but boxing is not my favorite to watch. Ice hockey fights are pretty entertaining sometimes...

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Guess I'm an old woman. I not only watched as much as possible of the Summer Olympics this year--primarily as a way to root for Marlen Esparza, admittedly--but I also watch Dancing With the Stars on a fairly regular basis!

      Fortunately, that also meant I was fortunate enough to catch Claressa Shields in her not-to-be-denied march to the Gold. Yay HER!

      Personally, I wasn't at all bothered by the stuck-out tongue...but then again, I was a fan of Cassius Clay UNTIL he became Muhammad Ali and took a step back from military induction. Since I was myself serving as a drafted member of the U.S. Army at that time, you might say I had a bit of attitude. Which I still do.

      However, I tend to doubt Shields is likely to take the Parkinsons-inducing head-beatings Ali took. She definitely fights well off the ropes, but in the middle of the ring, she's got extraordinary punch-slipping head movement that reminds more of Smokin' Joe Frasier (or maybe Mike Tyson, though I have to admit I've not watched many of Iron Mike's fights).

      Point being, I suspect Claressa will come out of boxing in okay physical condition, with her head on straight and a record worth having (both as a fighter and as a human being).

      Voted Up Plus.

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile imageAUTHOR

      Patty Inglish MS 

      6 years ago from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation

      It was our major newscasters and TV stations here in the States -- the "old women" comments supposedly came from Neilson Ratings results, but that's hard to believe.

      It certainly was an interesting couple of weeks.

    • Cardisa profile image

      Carolee Samuda 

      6 years ago from Jamaica

      Hi Patty, this Summer Olympics saw a lot of upsets and different outcomes that the world was expecting. I saw a 15 year old break a swim record, a Caribbean young man win the men's javelin, the high jump champion being dethroned, Mexico beating Brasil in the soccer finals and the list goes on.

      Most of the what the media hyped to have happened didn't. I only saw a part of the boxing. I saw the finals in some weigh classes where the British girl won her match and the Irish girl won hers. I am sorry I missed the match with Claressa as I would have enjoyed that as well.

      I think if you want to get in trouble listen to the media. I am not talking about news stories of stuff that is happening, I am talking about sensationalism. The media can take an idea or comment and make it into a worldwide on earth would they get the idea that only old women watched the Olympics? Where I come from, it was mostly men who watched the Olympics in times past as most of the sports were more macho. The only sport that women would clamber to watch was gymnastics but you can't get my fiancé away from the television set when that is


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