From disgust to admiration

// 13 August 2012

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This is a guest post by Antonia Houghton, who tweets here and blogs here.

Nicola Adams is my new hero. Not just because she won gold at the Olympics, but because she silenced the critics in doing so.

Nicola Adams Olympics fight.jpg

In 1998, Jane Couch became the first officially licensed female boxer in the UK after she won a sex discrimination case against the British Board of Boxing. This was met by vehement opposition from some people.

Take Ian Woolridge who wrote in a Daily Mail column that “none but a vicarious pervert would pay to see two women beating the breasts off one another”.

He also believed that 90% of the British people would “recoil at the disgusting notion of women fighting one another in the prize ring”.

He wasn’t the only one. In 2009, Olympic boxer Amir Khan was quoted in The Sun as saying, “deep down I don’t think women should fight, that’s my opinion. When you get hit it’s very painful. Women can get knocked out”.

I would like to blame this on too many blows to the head as he seems to have forgotten this…

[YouTube video of a boxing bout in which Amir Khan is knocked out in 30 seconds by Breidis Prescott.]

It seems he has changed his tune, having tweeted “history made, great fight” after her gold medal win. And he’s not the only one. Nicola Adams was headline news last week, and for all the right reasons.

I feel I should confess, I don’t actually like boxing. It’s not a moral thing. I have just never understood why anyone would want to get punched in the face for a living. But this is about choice.

Watching Adams reminded me why I am a feminist. There are still battles to be won. Adams battled her way to a gold medal. In doing so she proved, like many have before her, that a woman can be many things.

Photo of Adams fighting Mary Kom in the Olympics by cormac70, shared under a Creative Commons licence.

Comments From You

The Goldfish // Posted 13 August 2012 at 10:20 am

The women’s boxing at the Olympics converted me to boxing in general. I thought I would dislike it, having watched too many movies with boxing matches in them, where boxers are suffering, bleeding, bruised and drooling and still getting punched repeatedly, where it’s all about aggression, personal vendettas and posturing. But I watched the women’s boxing, and I loved it! Nicola Adams in particular was so upbeat, positive and respectful of her opponents, all smiles and the amateur rules do make it quite unlikely that anyone should acquire serious injuries. All the women seemed to treat each other very well, and there was far more uncontrolled aggression on the Handball court!

Previously, I’d thought, “Well, women should be allowed to choose this if they must.” but now I’m a convert, at least to amateur boxing (I’m still really not sure I want to see anyone punch someone in the head without any padding). And Katie Taylor… wow! The Irish contingent of my twitter stream *erupted*. In some respects, Ireland is a more socially conservative country than the UK, but my goodness, are they behind women’s boxing!

Carrie Dunn // Posted 14 August 2012 at 10:45 am

Amir Khan made me laugh in a kind of disbelieving way during the Olympics. He and Lennox Lewis were the panellists previewing the women’s boxing and Khan was all, “Yeah, it’s great” in a really unconvincing fashion while Lewis was all, “YAY! Finally! Great boxers get to compete at the Olympics WOOHOO!”

Louise McCudden // Posted 14 August 2012 at 11:03 am

Great comment Goldfish! Totally agree.

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