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09.11.2007 Boxing

IOC To Decide On Women Boxing

At its Congress in 2009, the International Olympic Committee is expected to make a definite statement on whether or not women's boxing will be part of the 2012 Olympic Games in London, UK.

Several moves made to this effect appear to have finally yielded some positive result for the women's sport, which has driven the IOC to the decision time in 2009.

In recent times, no single person has championed this cause more effectively than American female boxer, Marlen Esparza.

When she travelled to Chicago for the exhibition bout with Olesya Gladkova of Russia in the light flyweight division, Esparza said it was a chance to show that "women's boxing deserves inclusion at the 2012 Olympic Games in London".

For the simple reason of having a chance to attend the Olympics, Esparza has resisted the temptations of turning pro, insisting that going pro "doesn't have enough" to woo her from the chance of participating at the Olympics.

The 18-year-old from Houston attended the recently-held Chicago 2007 AIBA World Boxing Championships, gracing the platform of the world's future male boxing professionals in exhibition bouts.

The High School graduate, a finalist at the recent Pan American championships held in Ecuador in South America, is the youngest in the US women's amateur boxing team.

Yet, her credentials have been inspiring in a profession that has been a preserve of men. Esparza has lost just twice in her career, was national champion at 16 years, has a boxing fanatic as a father who permitted her to start boxing at 11 years.

Despite swimming at school, as well as running the cross country and tracks, too, at High School, only boxing has held the young girl's obsession.

Comparatively, she is anonymous in the class of Laila Ali, the daughter of the legendary Mohammed Ali, and her generation of women boxers, but its the American's crusading attitude that has challenged the movers and shakers of the amateur boxing world to reconsider the introduction of the sport at the Olympics that come after Beijing 2008.

The admiration she enjoyed at the exhibition, a curtain-raiser to last Saturday's closing fights at the Championships, may not necessarily translate into support for her ambition.

Her trainer for the exhibition bout Dan Campbell (named coach of the US boxing team for next year's Olympics) who, according to the AIBA website, once described her as "a phenomenal kid to be so good so young," said he would like to see women's boxing in the Olympic Games, "as long as they don't sacrifice any men's weight classes to bring in women."

This is the magnitude of challenge facing women's boxing, for which reason uncertainty hangs over its effort to follow the path of women's football and answer to the Olympic roll call.

Story by Michael Quaye

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