Olympic medallists hope success will boost popularity of women's boxing


Irie holds her gold medal after defeating the Philippines's Nesthy Petecio (left) in the women's featherweight 60-kg final boxing match in Tokyo on Aug 3, 2021. - AP

TOKYO (AFP): Women Olympic boxing medallists sent out a resounding message on Tuesday (Aug 3) in Tokyo about the image of female fighters and hope their success can get more girls involved in the sport.

Sena Irie became the first Japanese woman to win Olympic boxing gold with a unanimous points decision victory over Nesthy Petecio, herself the first woman from the Philippines to pocket a medal in the sport.

Women's boxing entered the Olympics for the first time at London 2012, when there were only three weight categories, but there are five in Tokyo and women's boxing is more popular than ever.

But women boxers say more needs to be done.

"I'm not really good at sport in general," said the 20-year-old Irie after winning the featherweight title, the first boxing gold of the pandemic-delayed Games.

"So this sends out a message to all girls who are not good at sports: as long as they try hard, they can achieve something.

"Media is now covering me and I think there will be more opportunities for media to cover women's boxing," she added.

"I hope that women's boxing in Japan can become even more popular."

That defiant message was echoed by Irma Testa, the bronze medallist from Italy.

"I can only say that I am really proud," said the 23-year-old, who had also made a small piece of boxing history for her country.

"For me it was really important to win a medal in order to make women's boxing in Italy more popular.

"So it's the first medal ever for women's boxing (in Italy), and with this medal I can show young girls in Italy that boxing is also a sport for women, not just men.

"I think today is proof of that."

Underlining the challenge that women's boxing still faces for recognition in some countries and the stereotypes that endure, Irie said that some people have the impression that women fighters "are violent or scary or aggressive".

"That's not the case," she said.

"I want to wipe out those aggressive images of boxers."

Back in the ring, there was disappointment for Petecio, the 29-year-old world champion and favourite for the featherweight title.

The weight category was making its Olympic debut in women's boxing.

Judges' scorecards -- which are now displayed after each round to make Olympic boxing more transparent -- unanimously had the home fighter Irie ahead after round one.

Both boxers were letting their fists go in a lively and open contest at Kokugikan Arena, which is usually used for Japan's national sport, sumo.

Petecio had the better of the second round and the third was also highly competitive.

However, it was Irie who got the nod from the judges, putting her hand over her mouth and crying.

Silver-medallist Petecio, who said that she was "proud to be part of the LGBT" community, was also emotional afterwards.

"It means a lot to me," she said.

"This medal is not just for me, it's for my country, it's for my coach, for my best friend who died this year."

Article type: metered
User Type: anonymous web
User Status:
Campaign ID: 46
Cxense type: free
User access status: 3
Join our Telegram channel to get our Evening Alerts and breaking news highlights
   

Next In Aseanplus News

Asean News Headlines as at 8pm on Thursday (Sept 23)
Indonesia approves Australian solar project over US$2.5bil investment
Philippines logs 17,411 new Covid-19 cases, total surges to 2,434,753
Indonesia reports 2,881 new Covid-19 cases, 160 more deaths
Indian man on bail for rape must wash women's clothes for six months
Moderna chief executive sees pandemic over in a year: newspaper
Fitch Ratings places Indosat on negative watch amid planned merger
Vietnam's Van Don Airport welcomes over 300 passengers with ‘vaccine passport’ from France
Debrief: Taiwan's KMT reaches a critical juncture ahead of election for new party chairman
Govt developing token system to help those without smartphones to check in at premises, says KJ

Stories You'll Enjoy


Vouchers