Girish Gupta

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Women boxers win Olympic struggle
Aug. 13, 2009

Published by guardian.co.uk

Women boxers have long lived in the shadow of their male counterparts, but that could all change from today after the International Olympic Committee decided that women will be allowed to box in the 2012 London Olympics – for the first time since 1904.

In the intervening century, only one female has appeared on the cover of Ring magazine – the sport's publication of note. American Cathy 'Cat' Davis made it big in the United States in the 1970s, but her success and that of the sport were short-lived.

The 1980s saw a slight resurgence thanks to sisters Dora and Cora Webber, but the sport's heyday came in the 1990s with Muhammad Ali's daughter Laila growing old enough to follow in her father's footsteps. In the most publicised women's bout in history she even took on the daughter of her father's greatest adversary Joe Frazier, defeating Jacqui Frazier-Lyde on points. In the UK, Jane Couch became the country's first officially licensed female boxer in 1998. She went on to win a world title, be awarded an MBE and even took legal action for the right to fight a man.

Hilary Swank's portrayal of an amateur female boxer in the 2004 film Million Dollar Baby cemented the sport's appeal in popular culture.

The Oscar-winning film was a huge step in bringing the sport to the world's attention, although there remain high-profile opponents to women's boxing, including the promoter Frank Warren.




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© Girish Gupta