How boxing can #BreakTheBias this International Women’s Day

Mar 15, 2022

The 2022 campaign for International Women’s Day has focussed on what can be done to break the bias.

The annual day of awareness and celebration occurs on 8 March.

This year, campaigners asked the public to imagine a gender equal world. A world free of bias, stereotypes, and discrimination. A world that is diverse, equitable, and inclusive. A world where difference is valued and celebrated.

To achieve such a world will require collective action where together everybody can forge women's equality.

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One area of society that is increasingly helping to break the bias is the sport of boxing.

Although the Covid-19 pandemic has put a pause on progress – like it has done for so much else over the past two years – it has recently started to feel more and more like boxing is reaching a watershed moment in terms of the female element of the sport.

Helping to get to this point has been an increased coverage of female boxing on television and in the wider media, which has in turn has created more excitement from fans – and vice versa in a virtuous cycle.

A critical reason for the change, as so often in this world, also comes down to money. Happily, improved investment is changing the game for both female athletes and fans alike.

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It looks as though the scene is now well set for boxing to play a key role in women’s sports during this coming year.

Alongside chances to break the bias in cricket thanks to the Ashes, and in football through the European Championships, there will be plenty of opportunity for women’s sport including boxing during the Commonwealth Games.

Scheduled to be held in Birmingham in the UK from Thursday 28 July to Monday 8 August, the Games is a multi-sport event for members of the Commonwealth of Nations. This year, for the first time in history, there will be more medals available for women athletes than for the men.

Women’s boxing was included in the Commonwealth Games for the first time in 2014 in Glasgow, UK. While it was a positive step to be part of the Games, female boxers could only compete across three weight classes – flyweight, lightweight and middleweight.

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At the last Commonwealth Games, held on the Gold Coast in Australia in 2018, medals were available for women boxers in six weight classes thanks to the addition of light flyweight, featherweight and welterweight.

At Birmingham 2022, and for the second Games on the bounce, there will once again be competition in six weight classes.

This approach plays a key part in the Commonwealth Games being a platform where up-and-coming female boxers have the chance to gain experience in competing, and advance both their skills and visibility in the sport.

It also proves as a kind of acknowledgement for all the years where women boxers have given their blood, sweat and tears without always receiving the recognition and reward they deserve.

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And while that is a victory for women’s boxing, let’s not forget that there is plenty more work to be done to attain gender equality in the sport.

More support is needed in boxing, from girls starting out at grassroots level to the women fighters at the top of the sport.

The lack of media coverage when compared to the male sport leaves women boxers struggling to step into the limelight and become role models for the younger generation. It does a disservice to participation rates in younger girls, which would no doubt increase if they could more easily see women competing in the ring.

Let’s hope that the amazing sporting events we have to look forward to in 2022 can play a huge part in breaking the bias.

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