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Girls who box: A history of women in boxing

posted on Wednesday, 27th January 2016 | find under Fitness
Sweaty Betty explores the history of female boxing, the famous faces (and bodies) who swear (and sweat) by it, and why you should want to get in the ring.

a history of women in boxing

Early in the 18th century, boxing unravelled in the form of prize fighting at fairgrounds and exhibition halls around Europe. Over the centuries, as the sport evolved into a more popular fitness discipline, women too were drawn to the ring. Described as a “monstrous, degrading, disgusting idea” by a BBC reporter in the 1940s, women’s boxing has taken a battering to get where it is today. 

In the 19th century women’s boxing was prohibited in the UK and a number of US states. This attitude continued for a number of years with prolific figures including the English Home Secretary banning a female fight in the 1920s, as he was unable to believe "such a disgraceful exhibition would be staged in this country". Despite famous female athletes including 'Battling' Barbara Buttick aiming to alter the stereotype for women in boxing, it was not until the end of the 20th century that the International Amateur Boxing Association finally lifted the ban on female fighters. After the first European cup for women in 1999, ten years later women were officially welcomed to participate in Olympic boxing. Fast forward to 2012 when Nicola Adams MBE beat China’s Ren Cancan to become the first female boxing Olympic champion, inspiring a new generation to take up the sport. 

With films like Million Dollar Baby and Taylor Swift’s Bad Blood music video transforming the reputation of women’s boxing (and showcasing the strong and sculpted physiques that rigorous boxing training can achieve), luxury boxing gyms and women’s only sessions are becoming increasingly popular across the globe. London’s 1Rebel and New York’s Shadowbox studios are just two of the boxing studios attracting the most discerning female fitness enthusiasts. And that includes some of the world’s most famous faces (and bodies), with the likes of Victoria’s Secret model Adriana Lima enjoying regular workouts in the ring and model-turned boxing champion Mikaela Mayer proving that the world’s fiercest sport is fit for women. 

To celebrate female boxing and the fitness benefits inherent to speed jabs, roundhouse kicks and circuit-style conditioning, Sweaty Betty has created an exhilarating new Get Fit 4 Free boxing-inspired Rumble workout. Devised exclusively for Sweaty Betty by London’s 1Rebel studios, Rumble is the new knockout workout your fitness regime is missing. 

Book a free in-store class and try the at home workout video. Find out more about Sweaty Betty Rumble here. #SBKnockout #GetFit4Free 
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