Boxing Through Adversity

boxer.jpgThe New York Times has a great article up about Cheryl Ziegler, an 18-year-old single mother from the Lower Brule Sioux Reservation in South Dakota, who is also a boxer.

Ziegler is Hawk's latest prize student. She is tough and determined and fights with proper technique: hands up, chin down. She said she planned to turn professional in a month and a half. She spoke of wanting to be a champion. But she had been training seriously for only two months. This fight at Standing Rock was to be her second amateur bout.

A pummeling defeat here could injure her or lacerate her confidence. Ray Hawk feared that she would quit boxing just as she was beginning. Only recently had she gained some fragile orderliness in her life.

Pregnant at 17, in treatment for alcohol abuse, Ziegler continued to drift after giving birth in October 2007. Last spring, she failed almost all of her courses on the Lower Brule Sioux Reservation in South Dakota. To the surprise of teachers and administrators, she returned to Lower Brule High in the fall. She seemed different, more responsible. She improved her grades, and the night before the fight she finally became eligible to rejoin the Lady Sioux basketball team.

There's a video at the link as well, and it's amazing to see what a great fighter this woman is. It reminds me of all that is good about sports, and how desperate the need is for feminists to dedicate more resources to helping more women and girls to get involved.

At the same time, the article/video also really hit home in a very sad sort of way. As a woman of color that comes from poverty (not nearly as bad as Ziegler's, but still), and has seen how the lure of quick money can suck much needed resources from improving and even maintaining educational and community programs for the majority of kids who will *not* make it big, I have to wonder why it's ok with so many of us that so many children in the U.S. grow up with such limited resources and alternatives--to the point that competition and sports is no longer about the game, but about the sense of desperation that sports may be the only answer there will ever be.

I am deeply thankful and inspired that Ziegler has an opportunity to help herself and is doing it in such a fierce, driven way. But I also have to wonder about all the other girls on her reservation, all the other girls in poor urban communities--and even about Ziegler herself. How would their lives be different if, in addition to boxing (and other sports), they also had access to family planning/sexual health services, community network programs that help children of imprisoned people, alternative education programs, after school programs, etc?

How would their lives be different, if, like Ziegler's trainer suggested, they were told every day of their lives, not just on game day, that they were important and necessary?

Get Bitch Media's top 9 reads of the week delivered to your inbox every Saturday morning! Sign up for the Weekly Reader:

5 Comments Have Been Posted

I love boxing - as an

I love boxing - as an activity and spectator sport. And I'm a feminist! Have fun with that contradiction! This is a great article.

I hope she makes it. It's a hard road to being a pro.

yeah i hope so !! she has got

yeah i hope so !! she has got vision she will make it indeed
<a href="">MMA Forum</a>


Being a feminist boxer is not contradictory! It's very linear. Feminists are known for promoting the involvement of women in activities that are traditionally deemed "masculine".

Opinion of the man

How men concern women who are engaged in exclusively man's kinds of sports - boxing for example or a bar lift? The statistics of interrogations shows, that women simply disgustingly look! A disputable theme. Interrogation has shown, that there is more than half of interrogated men refer that: the weight is necessary not small, shoulders as at the fighter - neither graces, nor the feminity, somehow all it not sexually looks.
To whom also that the woman proves to what is engaged in such sports? - The question was created at many men. Can and at you if you read this post and be a man's half of population!
I think a theme not about a constitution, and about the fact of employment by such sports. Then other question is asked, what men actually prove, and the main thing to whom?
Here business I think character and will! Such kind of sports as tennis, too at first was not considered female, looking at all now nobody asks a question why we-women of the tennis-player, instead of mother erasing diapers of the house?!

Mario what have you been

Mario what have you been smoking? men just don't like seeing women get hit at all. Nobody does. Its feminists that oppose women's boxing not men because they the oppose boxing full stop. Men don't really care for women's boxing at all that is why it doesn't sell, boxing audiences are primarily male and they are not interested in women fighting each other.

Name me one known feminist who has fought for a woman's right to box? I don't know any all they do is bash the men that say no, they don't ever condone or support women who choose to box. Clint Eastwood probably done more for women's boxing with his film than any feminist ever did and he isn't a feminist for sure. And don't assume all female boxers are feminists just because they are female.

So don't just assume men are oppressing women here. And don't bother bringing up the boxer Amir Khan if you research him properly he funds the charity that specifies in end violence against women. Like most men. They simply don't want to see any kind of violence against women period no matter how in context, call it chivalry call it whatever but these prejudices are supported by feminism. So don't bother twisting interviews and crap to blame this on men.

The author of this article displayed true feminism women SHOULD be given the same opportunities as men in boxing but its not men that need to be convinced its other so-called "feminists". Boxing is more complicated issue than tennis because there is going to be women getting hurt and that doesn't mesh well with "gender equality"

Add new comment