By Chloe O’Keeffe
Boxing is a sport with a long and notable history. The sport was first introduced to the Ancient Olympic Games in the 7th Century BC. However, the earliest ideas of boxing are said to date back to Egypt in 3000BC and is thought to have been quite a popular sport even then.
Granted, females would have participated in boxing nearly as long as the sports existence, but female fights were essentially illegal up until recent enough times. Take Katie Taylor for example; without a doubt one of the best sportswomen, and a trailblazer for women’s boxing. Taylor often sparred and boxed at a young age disguised as a young boy.
The 1920s saw the formation of Women’s Boxing Club in London, which ensued a lot of backlash for being highly controversial. In Britain, the first boxing competition for women was sanctioned in 1997, but due to negative media attention, it didn’t take off immediately.
Along with Katie Taylor, notable female boxers would include the spectacular retired professional boxer Laila Ali, who competed from 1999 to 2007. Laila Ali, daughter to the great Muhammad Ali, took to boxing when she was 18 years old and retired undefeated in the super middleweight and light heavyweight categories.
American professional boxer Christy Martin can be seen as a sort of ‘trailblazer’ for female boxing. Referring to her fathers’ career, she was dubbed ‘The Coal- Miner’s Daughter’ and is deemed one of the best female boxers to come from America. Martin began her professional boxing career at the age of 21 in 1989 and can be held responsible for inspiring many young women, including Laila Ali who strived for the same success.
Two times Olympic Gold medallist, Nicola Adams is one of the most prominent female boxers to come out of the United Kingdom; after thriving in her amateur career before becoming professional for two years in 2017. Nicknamed ‘The Lioness’, she retired with a clean, professional record of six fights and six wins and held the WBO (World Boxing Organisation) female flyweight title before her retirement.
Fellow 2012 Olympic Gold medallist, Katie Taylor is undoubtedly up on the list of the female boxing greats and is responsible for the massive turnaround in Irelands’ female boxing over the last ten years. Growing up, Taylor’s father coached her older brothers in boxing, and she followed suit, boxing under the alia of ‘K Taylor’ to disguise as a young boy for quite some time. Katie Taylor took part in the first sanctioned amateur female boxing contest in the National Stadium in 2002 and has since put Ireland on the map for female boxing.
These are only a few of the best female boxers in the amateur and professional ranks over the last number of years. Though times are evolving, and the representation of female boxers’ in the media is getting better, there is still more to be done. One may think the lack of attention paid to female boxing is due to the gender stigma that still lingers within the sport. That said, we are moving up in the world. In more recent times, it’s fantastic to see female panellists represent fight nights and there is no denying that these women are some of the best boxers of their times.