Jonas will box clever but some just can't handle it
21:46 GMT, 10 June 2012
21:46 GMT, 10 June 2012
A girl in a pair of boxing gloves. It remains a challenging image – for some, at least.
Even today, as the British Olympic
Association announce the three women – Natasha Jonas, Nicola Adams and
Savannah Marshall – who will make history by becoming the first of the
nation's females to box for a gold medal at the Olympics, there will be
those who still believe girls shouldn't be in the ring.
Boxing clever: Natasha Jonas will represent Team GB
This important step in women's sport
has so far been clouded by the Amateur International Boxing
Association's ridiculous suggestion female boxers could wear skirts in
London so they were 'more easily distinguishable from the men'.
It will now be 'optional' for the 36
women competing for three gold medals this summer (there are 10 weight
divisions for men, incidentally) but there is an obvious irony in the
organisation's thought process.
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Silly me, I thought this was a 'man's game'; that girls were supposed to be distinctly second class.
But Britain's female boxers train with the boys.
'We train in our weight,' said lightweight Jonas, the world bronze medalist.
'The attitude is that we're not female boxers, we're just boxers. I like that.
'People have always been supportive of me, but some of the other girls have shared their stories: going to clubs and being turned away, for example.'
The problem, Jonas believes, is that her sport is fighting on two fronts: against gender and professionalism.
She is being kind when she says women's professional boxing 'isn't the greatest', yet Britain is one of only two countries who will have three female amateur boxers in London.
Same name but different rules, different equipment and a different game.
Amateur boxing is much more 'chess-like' than a professional bout, with points scored for the frequency of punches and not the damage they inflict.
'Like rugby sevens or rugby league compared with rugby union,' said Jonas.
But the reason Jonas, 27, fell in love with her sport in a gym in Liverpool after an achilles injury ended her football career sums up just why some continue to struggle with the concept.
Fighting fit: Nicola Adams (left) is also in the Team GB squad
'You have got to be a certain type of person to get in a boxing ring,' she said.
'It's very gladiatorial. Everything that you put in you get out. It's the best of the best and the best person wins. There's no hiding. I'm not being big-headed, but my main aim is to get that gold in London. I know young girls will be watching and could be inspired, and that's great, but I'm thinking about me personally.'
Listening to Jonas made me want to punch the air, but her words will send others running for the hills.
They prefer powerful women to be consigned to history or characterised in Hollywood movies, not in a ring wearing gloves, protective headgear and breast plates.
The medical risks to female boxers are no greater than to men, but the barrier is this: seeing a woman being hit sparks a far greater emotion.
Forget any false sentiment about not wanting women boxers to get hurt.
This is about the spectator's pain threshold, not the athlete's. They can handle it, but can you
Taking advantage: Daley Thompson
Daley Thompson (@Daley_thompson) reacts to British Rowing's eminently sensible decision to book accommodation near Eton Dorney while their competitors travel from the athletes' village in Stratford.
'I hope all our sports r taking whatever advantage they can. I prefer us to be just a little less British & a lot more WINNER for these games.'
Van Commenee's trash talk
Charles van Commenee, head coach of UK athletics, shows why it's a good job he's in charge of a sport that seems content to stay largely out of the limelight for three-and-a-half years in every four.
'Whether it's fatty athletes, Court of Arbitration for Sport verdicts, Twitter, or opening ceremonies, I know in Olympic year all sorts of rubbish comes up.'
…And this is what I have been doing this week
Thinking the Midlands could do with a big football personality after Paul Lambert's low-key unveiling at Aston Villa.
…listening to BBC Radio 5 Live's excellent John Murray tell me about the exploits of Avraam Papadopoulos and Sokratis Papastathopoulos in the opening match of Euro 2012.
Commentator's nightmare: Greece's defender Avraam Papadopoulos (right)
…applauding British Triathlon' s brutal selection policy after they picked three 'domestiques' to give our athletes the best chance of two gold medals at London 2012. It's not the taking part that counts in a British vest any more, it's the winning.
Performance of the week
Britain's No 1 female wheelchair tennis player, Lucy Shuker, won the singles and doubles (with Germany's Katharina Kruger) at the ITF Daegu Open in South Korea.
Next stop Wimbledon – then the Paralympic Games.