The Emergence of Women’s Boxing | Recognizing the Trailblazers Who Made it Possible
For the better part of four centuries, boxing along with most other professional sports has been dominated by men. While there has always been a small niche market for female boxing, it was widely regarded as an afterthought.
Many of yesterday's legends have scratched the surface but could never find themselves breaking the glass ceiling and elevating women's boxing to be level with men's.
Names such as Laila Ali, Ann Wolfe, Christy Martin, and Lucia Rijker, were all pioneers of the sport in their own rights but never quite able to break through and turn into crossover stars. History has proven that this pattern hard to break but thanks to the fighters of today, there is a light at the end of the tunnel for the sport of women's boxing.
Finally, the female side of the sport is starting to get it's just due. Women's fights atop the slate headlining stadium sell-outs, big paydays, and high-stakes world championship fights.
Of course, none of this is possible without the warriors of yesterday, but for now, this piece will tell the stories of today's modern trailblazers who are setting the stage for women's boxing to be far more illustrious than it has ever been, and rightfully so!
Women's Boxing Enters The Olympics in 2012
The 2012 London Olympics would mark the first time in history Women's boxing is included as one of its featured sporting events.
This decision was made largely due to the emergence of the first trailblazer we will cover in this piece. The rise of an Irish superstar and a hero in her country.
Katie Taylor's dazzling amateur career influenced the IOC to feature women's boxing and have her be at the forefront as an ambassador for the sport and the honorary flag bearer for her native country of Ireland.
Katie did not disappoint, dominating her way to a gold medal in the women's lightweight division where she would go on to campaign for most of her upcoming pro career.
Katie would leverage her success at the Olympics and her overall dominance in the amateurs to catapult herself to superstardom in Europe.
These accolades would catch the eye of one of boxing's most heralded promoters, Eddie Hearn of Matchroom Boxing.
Hearn signed Katie in 2016 to much critical acclaim, Katie would continue her winning ways as a pro and eventually rise to #1 on the women's pound-for-pound list.
Expansion Of The Talent Pool
The 2012 London Olympics would not just set the stage for Katie Taylor to showcase her talents on a global scale. Many other women would be granted opportunities those who came before them could only dream of.
Claressa Shields would become the first woman to win 2 gold medals, finishing first in both London 2012 and Rio 2016.
Mikaela Mayer would also qualify for the Olympic squad in 2016 which would enable her to transition into a pro career that saw her become the first woman to sign to one of the sport's most storied promotions, Top Rank Boxing.
All the while Amanda Serrano would win world titles across seven different weight classes, a record that might not ever be touched again.
Serrano's shine would later catch the eye of internet sensation Jake Paul. Looking to start his foray into the world of boxing, Paul would sign Serrano to his newly founded MVP Promotions and feature her as the co-main on his fight cards.
Fighting in front of Paul's vast audience would boost Serrano's popularity amongst the mainstream public and cement her position as one of boxing's biggest stars.
A Boom Is Born
10 years after the 2012 London Olympics, the great catalyst that planted the seeds for women's boxing to finally flourish, 2022 would be far and away the most lucrative year for the sport.
This historic boom in women's boxing hit its pinnacle on April 30th when Katie Taylor and Amanda Serrano headlined at sports entertainment's most prestigious venue, Madison Square Garden.
The two performed to a sold-out crowd, a platform even most male boxers won't ever touch. Taylor and Serrano would not squander the opportunity, delivering an epic 10-round back-and-forth war that would win many fight of the year endorsements.
This was as perfect a representation of women's boxing as anyone could ask for and would later set the stage for the first all-women's fight card headlined by Claressa Shields and her long-time rival Savannah Marshall at the 02 Arena in London.
Women's Boxing Is Here To Stay
2022 was a year full of firsts and 2023 looks to deliver more of the same as the talent pool continues to grow deeper and deeper for women's boxing.
Women in the sport are finally getting the notoriety they deserve for the hard work they put in, and the skills they possess.
Interest continues to flourish as the best of the best are stepping into the ring with each other and putting on the best fights, something that can't always be said on the men's side these days.
The pioneers we cover in this piece are setting an example for young girls around the world and prove a point we at BoxRope stress daily, boxing is a sport for everyone.
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