How boxing is empowering

Last year, at this time, I was training for my second fight. This blog entry talks about that training and also follows up another blog entry I wrote about boxing and violence against women being different.

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Training yesterday was all about Irwin’s.Wednesday is the day Billy normally takes everyone down to Queenston for the run. Typically, I don’t go with them, because I can only walk the route and I don’t want to be in anyone’s way as they’re pushing through their second or third lap. Instead, I take advantage of the boxing club being nice and quiet and work on different drills.

It wasn’t a great workout overall. I felt good working the hand pads with Mike, but the rest of the workout was pretty meh. I was distracted. I still worked hard and I did well with some specific things that I’ve been working on, but – mostly – I just wasn’t feeling it.

On Tuesday evening when I was planking, 11yo walked up to me and almost sat on me. I had to tell him not to. Recalling last year’s efforts, he asked if we would be able to try it again, so, yes, yesterday, he sat on me whilst I planked. It’s not a perfect plank, sadly, but I held it for a minute and 15 seconds. If you’re wondering, weighing in at 72 lbs, he is exactly half my current body weight.

There will be more attempts.

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Now, further to Tuesday’s blog entry, let’s talk a little bit about how participation in boxing (and other combat sports) not only isn’t bad for women and girls, but – in fact – serves to empower them.

I am a child of the 70s, raised to believe that girls should be polite and quiet and get along. I was raised with the understanding that “boys will be boys” and that bad behaviour was to be written off with an “aw, but he likes you.” I was painfully shy, probably because when I did find something interesting or exciting and talked about it, I was told to be quiet. I was not raised to stand up for myself or to speak up for myself. At 5’3″ tall as an adult, I have always been one of the smallest – if not the smallest – people in a group. And I learned early on to make myself smaller whenever and wherever possible.

This spoken word poem sums it up powerfully:

Girls and women are not meant to take up space.
Girls and women are not meant to make their presence known.
Girls and women are not meant to speak up for themselves or others.
Girls and women are certainly not meant to engage in the kinds of intense sports that boys and men have been participating in for years.

Boxing empowers me to do all of these things. In the boxing club and elsewhere.

Through boxing, I have learned my strength, my power, and control.

Part of what is so cruel about the misconception that boxing and violence against women are the same – or even a little bit similar – is that the percentage of female fighters who are survivors of violence and use boxing to regain their self-worth and power is very high. I am one of those women.

Through boxing, you learn that aggression is okay; that there are healthy ways to express it.

Learning how strong and powerful your body is gives you self-confidence.

For little girls, it practically ensures they will never feel unequal to the boys.

There is a program at Newsgirls Boxing Club in Toronto that I dream of bringing to Niagara. It’s called Shape Your Life and it is a program that is dedicated to teaching survivors of violence how to express their anger and sadness through boxing; how to express and deal with aggression in a healthy way. This video explains the program and its benefits really well:

So, look, I understand that boxing makes people uncomfortable. I understand that it also makes people uncomfortable that women box. And I understand the reasons for that discomfort. I also know that the people who are uncomfortable don’t understand the sport and what it does for the people, maybe especially the women, who participate in it.