People that know me, know that I have an intense love for the sport of boxing and have for many, many years. It has been my joy to have met some of my favorite pugilists like Mike Tyson, Oscar De La Hoya, Sugar Ray Leonard, Marvin “Marvelous” Hagler and others. That love extends to the wonderful ladies of boxing, like Laila Ali, who I had an extended conversation with about the sport. One of my best friends, Holly “Lil Bear” Lawson is one of my best friends.
My daughter has picked up on my enthusiasm for boxing (and other martial arts) and I have been happy to oblige. However, after a while, I began asking myself why, since boxing isn’t a typical sport girls gravitate towards. So, instead of writing a pseudo introspective piece on why my daughter likes boxing, and why boxing for girls is a good idea in general, I opted to ask some others why.
Holly “Lil Bear” Lawson – boxer-turned-MMA fighter
Jeandra LeBeauf – Creator, BadCulture.net
Maia Creekmur – Daughter, who is into boxing and other marital arts
1) FITNESS, CONFIDENCE AND SELF ESTEEM
Jeandra: “Boxing is definitely great in terms of fitness and confidence. A young lady that doesn’t have body hang ups is generally well adjusted. Most female athletes manage to bypass a lot of the body angst their non-sports participating peers have. I applaud young ladies who choose to participate in combat sports like boxing from a young age. It defies the ‘sugar and spice’ stereotype most girls are fed from birth.”
Jeandra: “Self defense is cool, but its also kind of tricky because of today’s cowardly society. So many bullies attack in groups or use weapons – blades, guns, et cetera – so combat sport skills will only help to a certain extent. Unless the girl’s rep precedes her.”
3) GENERAL INTESTINAL FORTITUDE
Jeandra: “A lot of young ladies, like myself, who grew up with brothers likely had a scrap or two on the weekends. I don’t see it any different than playing basketball or soccer or any other sport.”
4) SELF LOVE
Holly: “If you’re proud of and show respect for your body, it tends to encourage some very basic self love. If we know just how incredible our bodies are – regardless of what others tell us we should look like – if we understand that we can do things that seem outside the realm of “ordinary,” we are more likely to be appreciative and loving to ourselves, in both our strengths and flaws. A lot of young women have been told they should be embarrassed of their bodies, that there is something wrong with them being strong and self sufficient, anything that helps their self worth grow, encourages them in the belief that they are valuable and worthy of time/care/investment. I’d want my daughter to grow up knowing, even if she has no interest in fighting, that her body is something to be valued and respected and treated in the highest capacities of love. I’d want her to understand that she doesn’t have to play by the rules society has set for her, that she can achieve the extraordinary through hard work and that the basic tenement to most things in life will come down to deciding you want to do something and setting your mind to that goal, one step at a time and simply saying “I’m going to do this thing that seems foreign to others, but that I believe in.”
5) SHE LIKES IT (Yes, I interviewed my own kid)
Maia: “What I like about boxing is it teaches you how to defend yourself, like people who you think you can trust, but you really can’t. Or anybody. It gives you a bit of an advantage so you can, maybe, block a punch or kick. Its different. You know how to block, duck and other types of defenses. Boxing is mainly self defense, but it can also be fun. Boxing is also good for fitness and stuff, because it also makes your heart rate go up and then you can burn calories. You start sweating a lot and like fighting and kicking and punching, you are using all of the parts of your body at once.”
At the end of the day, I want my daughter to have zero limitations and know that she cannot be boxed in by convention. Pun intended.
PS: She’s got a thing for karate too, sucka!