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Women boxers to fight in Olympics

PUBLISHED: 20:01 13 August 2009 | UPDATED: 15:21 07 July 2010

Emma Knights

Two Norfolk women boxers have spoken of their delight that they could be able to compete in their sport at the Olympics.

The International Olympic Committee today decided to allow women to compete in three divisions of boxing - flyweight 48-51kg, lightweight 56-60kg and middleweight 69-75kg.

Two Norfolk women boxers have spoken of their delight that they could be able to compete in their sport at the Olympics.

The International Olympic Committee today decided to allow women to compete in three divisions of boxing - flyweight 48-51kg, lightweight 56-60kg and middleweight 69-75kg.

It is a huge hurdle to be overcome by women's boxing which throughout its history has had to fight to be accepted.

Lucy O'Connor is a lieutenant in the Royal Navy and currently the number one female boxer in Britain in the featherweight category and number five in the world.

The 30-year-old, who went to Northgate High School, in Dereham, and Fakenham College, said: “Boxing was the only sport that females weren't allowed to compete in at the Olympics and so this is important for all female sportswomen. It makes a huge statement. We are absolutely thrilled. It gives us our ultimate dream to compete in the Olympics.”

In response the views of those against women boxing, she said: “A few years ago the same would be said about football, cricket and taekwondo. It is a question of progression. We know every year we are going to progress and get recognition.”

She added that the two sexes perform in the boxing ring in very different ways.

“The men naturally are more powerful and have more strength in their arms. They focus really on the power whereas the women do not necessarily have the power and strength. It is more like a game of mental chess in the ring and is more technical.”

Fellow boxer Sam Halms, who works for Aviva in Norwich, said: “It is a huge achievement that women's boxing has been allowed into the Olympics. The women that want to do it are the women we fight. If someone wants to fight then why is there a problem?

“If someone works hard and if they have the tools to do well then why not put them into practice?”

The 20-year-old from Dereham is the Eastern Counties Champion in the light welterweight section and in May made it through to the final of the national Senior ABA (Amateur Boxing Association) Championships.

Glen Saffer, Miss Halms' coach at Kingfisher Amateur Boxing Club, in Norwich, described today's decision as “brilliant” and said it would see an increase in females getting involved in the sport.

He added: “When women box they have head guards, they have chest protectors and groin protectors. They are well aided and well looked after.”

Britain's Olympics minister Tessa Jowell said she was delighted the International Olympic Committee had opened up what she called “the last of the Olympic closed shops.”

But WBA light-welterweight champion Amir Khan said: “Deep down I think women shouldn't fight.”

And the British Medical Association (BMA) said the sport should “play no part in a modern Olympic Games.” A BMA spokesman said: “The cumulative affect of a lifetime in the ring can be irreversible brain damage.”

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