Women’s Olympic Boxing 2012: History in the Making

By Laurena Marrone on August 2, 2012
Women’s Olympic Boxing 2012: History in the Making
Marlen Esparza and Claressa Shields must win one bout to win at least a bronze medal.

It’s hard to pick a favorite when these women have overcome so much and there is so much at stake for each and every fighter…

Well, it’s about time. As a woman, a boxer, and a fan, I couldn’t be happier or more proud of the fighters from across the world who are preparing to compete next weekend in the first-ever Women’s Olympic Boxing.

Women have struggled to find a “home” in this sport for decades, and the struggle doesn’t end with this momentous occasion. However, becoming an Olympic sport does help to legitimize what many of us have known for years: women can box. Women throughout the world love boxing, and they take the sport very seriously.

It’s not an easy path to take, no matter where you’re from. Even the notoriously liberal American culture has frowned upon females fighting since our country’s inception. Do I think that will change because of the Olympic Games? Of course not. But this is a well deserved, hard-earned step in the right direction.

August 5th marks a great and historic day for Women’s Boxing. To see the vast array of countries participating in the event is truly inspiring. Sure, we expected to see Americans, Canadians, British and even African boxers, but a boxer from Tajikistan?  What incredible inner strength and dedication one must possess to pursue the sport in that cultural climate. If you’re not familiar with the country, just think about this: Tajikistan shares its culture and history with Afghanistan and Iran. Enough said.

It will also be interesting to see if the AIBA’s “Road to London” program proves beneficial for the women. Boxers from Kenya, New Zealand and Tajikistan participated in the extensive and intense three-week training camp created for fighters from underprivileged countries. The camp was overseen by Thomas Coulter, a former Olympic Head Coach of Team USA, and Italian Carmine “Nino” Fracasso. All funding was provided by the AIBA. The “Road to London,” which ended on July 23, was described as being “grueling and life-changing” for many of the boxers from across the world.

For the Americans, lady luck shined upon two of the three boxers, flyweight Marlen Esparza and middleweight Claressa Shields, who both drew byes last Friday, making their roads to victory a little easier. Lightweight Queen Underwood, on the other hand, definitely has one of the most difficult paths to gold of all the fighters. Underwood must first face Britain’s Natasha Jones in her own backyard, and if she earns a win, she has to contend with Ireland’s Katie Taylor, the top-ranked lightweight who is touted as being the “best female boxer at the Olympics.” 

Twelve female fighters in three weight classes will be featured in the Olympics. For the American women, Underwood is looking at the greatest challenge, while Esparza and Shields must win just one bout to win at least a bronze medal. For any boxer, three wins takes the gold.

Naturally I’ll be cheering on Team USA, but in my heart I hold the greatest respect and excitement for all of the boxers. It’s hard to pick a favorite when these women have overcome so much and there is so much at stake for each and every fighter—namely, a place in boxing history.

So, may I proudly say…“May the best woman win!”

Follow us on Twitter@boxing_com to continue the discussion

Marlen Esparza on KPRC's Sports Sunday

Marlen Esparza Becomes the First US Female Olympic Boxer: Road to London

2006-07-20 USA vs Canada - bout 1 - Marlen Esparza vs Michelle Nelson

Coaching Marlen Esparza

Women boxers like Claressa Shields could make history at 2012 London Olympics - Rough Cuts

Women boxers prepare to make history: Road to London

Claressa Shields chases Olympic dreams

Claressa Shields goes for gold

In Focus: Queen Underwood

One on One with Queen Underwood

The Road to 2012: Queen Underwood

Katie Taylor vs Queen Underwood

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  1. Brandon 01:14am, 08/03/2012

    I am very excited to see boxing history and women’s athletic history made! Our girls have already made us proud in soccer and swimming, now let’s see some dominance in the ring!

  2. Kelly Hernandez 08:54pm, 08/02/2012

    Let me say this about Queen Underwood.  She is one of the most dedicated athletes I ever worked out with.  Before she was a boxer she was an awesome Power Lifter!  I love the girl she has what it takes and is very focused.  She will most likely make Gold!!  Queen is a powerful women with a Warm and loving heart as she is graceful and mature all wrapped up in one great soul.  She has come a long way.  This is the one to be watching!! 

    All HAIL THE QUEEN!!!!  GO Women!!!!  Love your friend and Co-Athlete,

    Kelly Hernandez
    Former 2000 Power lifting World Champion
    and now Olympic Coach

  3. box fan 08:30pm, 08/02/2012

    what happened to this californai girl mikalia mayor ??

  4. Black Hat Ron 12:26pm, 08/02/2012

    Great article, and you are on the target. We’re ready for this!

  5. Jason D. 11:03am, 08/02/2012

    Go girls!

  6. Michele Wilson-Morris 10:12am, 08/02/2012

    Excellent article! It’s informative and compelling. I had no idea how involved women were in the sport of boxing, and am proud to know that they are representing the US in that sport in the Olympics! Please continue to keep us in the loop Ms. Marrone.

  7. Wayne Dermake 09:54am, 08/02/2012

    Great article, keep your gloves up.

  8. Melissa 09:00am, 08/02/2012

    It’s incredible how far women have come in the sports industry, especially boxing. They can surely hold their own in the ring and unlike what some may still feel is a male-dominating sport, this is solid proof that states otherwise.

    Great estrogen-filled blog to honour all those women who continue to do what they love most!  :)

  9. T.O.N.E-z 08:40am, 08/02/2012


  10. Matt McGrain 07:58am, 08/02/2012

    Can’t wait for Underwood-Jonas…then the winner versus you-know-who…

  11. TJ 07:55am, 08/02/2012

    I’m looking forward to the fights and I think the women will surprise us all, and the world.  You’re right… it’s about time!

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