For the last few months, writer Kate Jenkins and I have been reporting on the problems of the women's boxing industry for The Atlantic. We found that the offensively misogynistic and hetero-normative landscape leaves even the best fighters working day jobs to survive. You can read Kate's stirring feature accompanied by select photos HERE, and see my full photo essay HERE.
The problems are most concretely seen in the earning discrepancies between male and female boxers. Men make on average 6 times more for winning bouts, with women's pots starting at $5,000 and men's at $30,000. The lucrative sponsorships necessary to sustain a full time boxing career are often unavailable to women when male candidates are available instead. One of the women we interviewed lost out to a male boxer for an Under Armor contract despite being in the final stages of negotiations. Unable to make a living from winning despite being ranked first both nationally and internationally, the women we profiled both work at IHOP to support themselves and their families.
Hetero-normativity presents major barriers to female fighters as well. Since women aren't expected to fight, those who do are at least expected to have the "right look", to be traditionally feminine. Boxers are encouraged to wear their hair long, put on a full face of makeup, and don little more than a sports bra and skort for fights. Prompters sell more tickets to bouts between traditionally feminine boxers, so the women interested in being judged based solely on their skills are left out. Sponsorships from brands like Coca Cola and CoverGirl go to boxers with pre-fight beauty regimes.
Read the full story by Kate Jenkins on the Atlantic feature page HERE.