The Canadian flyweight and the American lightweight both stuck with their sport after that qualifying disappointment, and they both celebrated victories in their long-awaited Olympic debuts Friday.
They both realize they’ve accomplished no small feat, given how their sport has grown in the ensuing four years.
“When you watch the girls fight and you watch the guys fight, there’s really no difference,” Bujold said. “I think the girls actually go for it more, because we’ve got the two-minute rounds. It’s all excitement.”
Four years after the women’s boxing tournament was the best thing in the London ring, the encore has begun in Brazil. With fast-paced bouts and charismatic fighters, Riocentro Pavilion 6 buzzed with excitement when women led off both sessions, starting with a thrilling first bout.
After peppering her larger, favored opponent with punches for four furious rounds, Ukraine light flyweight Tetyana Kob celebrated by doing the splits while her hand was raised by the referee in victory.
“The competition has just shot through the roof,” Mayer said moments after dominating Micronesia’s Jennifer Chieng. “You go to a tournament, and if you want to get that gold medal, there aren’t a lot of pushover fights. These girls are experienced. They’ve got Olympic medals.”
Just as professional women’s MMA rapidly became vital to that sport’s image and health over the past four years, the smaller world of amateur boxing has realized that its female competition is one of its most important assets.
The International Boxing Association (AIBA) aggressively backed the women’s sport for years, and President Ching-Kuo Wu is determined to add more fighters and weight classes to the next Olympics. The current field is only 36 boxers in three weight classes, due to IOC restrictions on the total number of Olympic athletes, but Wu wants five women’s weight categories at the 2020 Games in Tokyo, calling it vital for equality.
All three gold medalists from London are back to defend their titles in Rio fights featuring four two-minute rounds, rather than the three three-minute rounds fought by men. The women are still wearing headgear, while the men fight increasingly bloody bouts without the protection, but AIBA is expected to remove the gear from the women next year as well.[…]
It is arguable that a greater proportion of Nigeria’s sporting success is attributable to women. …