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Boxing History - Female Gold Medal
©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.
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.
Claressa's Inspiration - Laila Ali
- Women's Boxing - Laila Ali
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