Once I returned to the gym after my summer vacation, it was nearly time for the Olympics to begin in London. Typically, I’m super-excited to watch every second of women’s gymnastics in the Olympics. I did gymnastics until I was about 14, and still think that it’s the most beautiful and amazing sport. (Especially on the uneven bars.)
This year, however, I was more eager to see the Olympic debut of women’s boxing. I never paid any attention to boxing in past Olympics, and I never knew that women couldn’t box in the competition until this year. Women competed in only three weightclasses in London—compared to the men’s ten—but it’s better than nothing. The US sent a team of twelve boxers, three of whom were women: Queen Underwood, Marlen Esparza and Claressa Shields.
Around this time, maybe the day before the women’s bouts began, Terri brought an American flag to the gym and got us to pose around it in the ring. She put it up on Facebook and tagged a whole bunch of people in it (including Queen Underwood, I believe). A couple of days later, Terri sent out a text with a picture of our picture on TV. It’d been featured briefly on the NBC news. Kinda neat! I’m in the front row, third from the left (wearing red shorts and a gray tank).
When the women’s bouts started on Sunday (August 5th), I stayed home from church to watch them live. I enjoyed seeing the fights, but the commentators irritated me by making sexist remarks like: “I bet I know who wears the pants in that household” and “look how she does that—just like a man would.” Well, duh! She did it “like a man would” because it’s the same sport. I watched the rest of the women’s bouts after the fact and without the commentators’ narration. It was much more enjoyable that way. A few of the fights stood out to me:
Queen Underwood vs. Natasha Jonas — Underwood lost on the first day of women’s boxing (13 points to 21), and I felt for her. Once it was clear that she wasn’t about to win, the commentators went on and on about how she had been sexually abused as a child. They went so far as to imply that the sexual abuse hindered her from winning. What do they know about it? I almost cried when they interviewed her right afterwards, because of how hard she worked to keep her composure.
Katie Taylor’s fights against Natasha Jonas, Mavzuna Choriyeva and Sofya Ochigava — Katie Taylor won these three fights and took the gold medal home to Ireland. From what I read online before the Olympics, I’d gathered that Katie Taylor was the favorite to win her weightclass. And boy was she was exciting to watch. It was awesome how loud the crowd was in support of her. However, I noticed that, after Taylor won her last two fights, the announcer only announced the winner and failed to say “Please show your appreciation for…” like they did for all the other boxers who lost their bouts.
Anna Laurell vs. Claressa Shields — First of all, Anna Laurell is one big chick. Secondly, Claressa Shields was fierce. I enjoyed this bout. It was relatively close: Shields won with 18 points to Laurell’s 14.
Ren Cancan vs. Nicola Adams — This was the first gold medal bout, for the women’s flyweight class. The joy on Adams’ face at the end was priceless!
Claressa Shields vs. Nadezda Torlopova — Of course, I loved seeing an American win the gold medal!
Before this summer, I had barely watched any women’s boxing. I’d seen some men’s boxing, but not even much of that. Watching the boxing in the Olympics made me want to get in the gym, to do the kind of hard work that it takes to get that good—just as watching gymnastics always makes me want to do gymnastics. (Unfortunately, the splits, cart-wheel and handstand are about all I can still do.) I want to watch more boxing, to see how other boxers move and to learn more about the sport. But it seems to me that boxing is harder to find than, say, football. Where do you watch boxing?
Note — I just Googled “where do you watch boxing?” and came across this article: Why I Won’t Be Watching Olympic Boxing. Since Olympic boxing is almost the only boxing I’ve seen, I can’t really comment. (I do agree that it’s silly that the scoring system disregards the power of the punches.) I’ll just have to watch more boxing to see how I think it compares to Olympic boxing.
The 36 women who were the first to box in the Olympics:
Women’s flyweight (51 kg/112 lbs)
Gold: Nicola Adams (GBR)
Silver: Ren Cancan (CHN)
Bronze: Marlen Esparza (USA) & Mary Kom (IND)
Elena Savelyeva (RUS), Erica Matos (BRA), Hye Song Kim (PRK), Karlha Magliocco (VEN), Stoyka Petrova (BUL), Karolina Michalczuk (POL), Maroua Rahali (TUN), Siona Fernandes (NZL)
Women’s lightweight (60 kg/132 lbs)
Gold: Katie Taylor (IRL)
Silver: Sofya Ochigava (RUS)
Bronze: Mavzuna Choriyeva (TJK) & Adriana Araujo (BRA)
Queen Underwood (USA), Natasha Jonas (GBR), Cheng Dong (CHN), Saida Khassenova (KAZ), Mahjouba Oubtil (MAR), Mihaela Lacatus (ROU), Alexis Pritchard (NZL), Rim Jouini (TUN)
Women’s middleweight (75 kg/165 lbs)
Gold: Claressa Shields (USA)
Silver: Nadezda Torlopova (RUS)
Bronze: Jinzi Li (CHN) & Marina Volnova (KAZ)
Anna Laurell (SWE), Savannah Marshall (GBR), Roseli Feitosa (BRA), Mary Spencer (CAN), Yelena Vystropova (AZE), Elizabeth Andiego (KEN), Naomi-Lee Fischer-Rasmussen (AUS), Edith Ogoke (NGR)
Edited to Add (9/10/2012): I meant to include this quote from ESPN’s article “Andre Ward tops Chad Dawson:”
Ward also is the last American to win an Olympic gold medal, doing it in Athens in 2004, and is widely considered one of the best pound-for-pound fighters in the sport.
Now, this article was written the same day as this post was (Sept. 9th). No, sir. Actually, Claressa Shields is the last American to win an Olympic gold medal (in boxing), doing it in London in 2012.