Are the women's 2012 boxing weight classes too restrictive?

Posted at 9:00 AM Aug 19, 2009

By Andrea Grimes

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If ladies' gymnastics doesn't have enough face-punching for you, you're in luck with the 2012 olympics: as we mentioned last week, women's boxing is now officially an olympic sport. Of course, throwing a big face-punching party is not quite in order ... and not just because a sport that centers around actually trying to injure someone else is, maybe, suspect for either or any gender. Seems the weight classes for women's boxing are participant-limiting at best and eating disorder-inducing at worst.

There are three weight classes. Flyweights, which are at around 106-112 pounds, lightweight at 123-132 pounds and middleweight, 152-165 pounds. Surely, you see where we're going with this. The Women's Rights blog at Change.org frames the dilemma thusly:

The problem with this structure lies not just in the number of women that will be excluded from participation because their weight ranges fall above or below the limitations, but also in the large gaps between each class. A woman weighing 140 pounds, for example, would be required to either gain 12 pounds or lose 8 in order to be able to participate in any of the designated weight classes. This presents a situation that could promote unhealthy eating or exercise habits among women who desire to participate in Olympic boxing, but whose natural body structures render them ineligible.
One need not be a boxing expert to realize that, say, a 120 lb woman probably has an advantage if she loses eight pounds to be on the heavy end of the flyweight division rather than gaining a few pounds to be on the low end of lightweight.

I'm not sure if I'm quite ready to hop on the alarm-sounding bandwagon; we're talking about a loss or gain of 8, 10 pounds. Athletes are already in touch with their bodies and interested in keeping them in tippy-top shape. Starving oneself may make one lighter, but most any athlete could tell you that it's unlikely to make you much stronger. And in a sport where you need to be as strong as possible (again with the face-punching) I can't see too much rampant weight-hand-wringing. Should there be a heavyweight category? Absolutely. Should there be more continuity in the categories? Perhaps. Do we have to lose our shit about these athletes wasting away just yet? Nah.

Comments

BorgQueen said:

Wuh... why would there be gaps at all between weight classes? Are there gaps in men's weight classes. (I know next to nothing about boxing, sorry). Also why wouldn't there be a heaviweight division? Oh that's right.... women are supposed to be skinny and perfect EVEN WHILE BEATING SOMEONE IN THE FACE.

It just makes no sense at all

Mulisha7 said:

I haven't paid a lot of attention to boxer weigh ins but most fight sports (boxing, MMA, wrestling) have weight classes divided every 8-15 pounds. The exact classes vary by organization and location but is is generally in the best interest of the fighter to come in at the highest weight allowable in a particular class.

And Andrea is right, high level combat sports athletes can change their weight to go up or drop classes as needed. I don't think female boxers should necessarily be given softer rules but the 20 pound gap between lightweight and middleweight is a little much.

kris said:

So the first thing that comes to my mind is, which came first, the teams or the classes? Maybe the oddly restrictive weight classes are just because those ARE the women who will be participating, and they'll expand it as necessary?

toxic said:

They don't starve themselves, they dehyrdrate themselves, weigh in the day before the fight, and then rehydrate as much as they can.

an 8-10 pound cut isn't too bad I would think.

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