(ATR) A capacity crowd saw history made Sunday as the first women fought in the Olympic boxing ring and the last male-only sport went down for the count.
Team GB's Natasha Jones (left) falls to Ireland's Katie Taylor. (Getty Images)
A day later, the highest decibel level of the Games was registered when Irish world champion Katie Taylor defeated British hope Natasha Jonas in the quarterfinals.
The first medals will be awarded Thursday.
Flyweight Elena Savelyeva of Russia defeated Kim Hye Song of North Korea 12-9 in the first Olympic women's bout before about 10,000 spectators at the ExCeL arena.
“Boxing is normal for women in Russia,” Savelyeva said. “There is no discrimination.”
However, women had to fight for Olympic recognition.
Fifty-two years after Muhammad Ali won gold in Rome, his daughter Laila, who turned pro because there was no Olympic boxing for women, tells ATR
“There have been so many excuses over the years of why women weren’t competing in the Olympics: ‘Oh, there’s not enough countries; Oh, there’s not enough women.’ You never know what was true and what wasn’t. I’m just happy to see it now. Eventually it’ll just keep growing.”
Chungneijang Mery Kom Hmangte of India, who had been boxing for 12 years, came out of retirement and changed her weight – there are only three women’s weight classes in the Olympics compared to 10 for men – to compete at the Games. She missed her son’s fifth birthday to defeat Karolina Michalczuk of Poland in the flyweight division.
“I cannot be there to celebrate because I am fighting in the ring,” Hmangte said. “I am looking forward to being with him, but this is important.”
Michalczuk made sartorial history as the first boxer to wear a skirt in the Olympics. AIBA had given women the option of choosing skirts or shorts, but most chose shorts.
Karolina Michalczuk (right) chooses a skirt over shorts. (Getty Images)
Naomi-Lee Fischer-Rasmussen of Australian also wore a skirt in her middleweight loss to Anna Laurell of Sweden.
Laurell said she prefers shorts. “You should be comfortable up there in whatever you wear because they don’t look at your legs anyway,” she said. “You can go to a bar if you want to look at legs.”
The skill level impressed this reporter, although it was her first women’s fight since she saw Tonya Harding (yes, that Tonya Harding) lose her first professional bout in Tunica, Miss., in 2003 while appearing on the same card as Mike Tyson.
Just like their male counterparts, there was grousing about the officiating. “I don’t blame the referees, although sometimes it felt like they were looking at a different match to us,” said Mihaela Lacatus of Romania, who lost to Dong Cheng of China 10-5 in the lightweight division.
Lacatus said she thought she broke Dong’s nose. If Dong wins a medal, it will be the end of a long journey, she said.
“If men can do it,” Dong added, “We can do it, too.”
Reported in London by Karen Rosen
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