Women's boxing is here to stay
The future of women's boxing seems to be bright after mostly positive reaction to the history-making fights at the London Olympic Games.
It took many years and major efforts to convince the International Olympic Committee to include boxing for women on their list of sports. Now there is no doubt that the girls will be back in Rio de Janeiro in 2016.
Several of those who contributed to the success of women’s boxing at the London Games are eager to compete in Rio. The first three to win gold medals for women’s boxing – Katie Taylor, Nicola Adams and Claressa Shields – are likely to defend their titles.
The sport is here to stay. Jacques Rogge, Baron Pierre De Coubertin's latest successor as International Olympic Council boss, was in the audience when the finals took place on Thursday.
"It was fantastic and I am a very happy man," he said. "There was some criticism of whether women should box and of their level and technique. We have been vindicated today; it was a good decision and it is only the beginning.
Boxing for women was a demonstration sport at the 1904 St Louis Games. But it made its Olympic debut only in 2012.
A series of sexual discrimination challenges in the 1980s and 1990s in several European countries, and a number of American states resulted in the change of attitude.
Taylor was the outstanding fighter in a competition that captured the imagination of huge crowds at the ExCel Arena. Fans flocked across the Irish Sea to watch the 26-year-old from Bray, who was already ten years old when women's boxing was licensed in Britain.
She had to fight abroad and on the undercard of tournaments in Ireland. Despite winning four world titles, she trained in a gym without a toilet or shower.
WOMEN BOXED IN 18th CENTURY
There are records of women's boxing bouts in Britain in the 18th century while the first match in the United States was staged in New York in 1876.
Boxing has been a prominent sport in the modern Games since St Louis, with the exception of the 1912 Stockholm Olympics, when boxing was illegal in Sweden.
Sport for women was frowned upon long before that. De Coubertin, founder of the modern Games that started in Athens in 1896, did not believe women should take part in public, organised sport. He was opposed to their participation in the Olympics.
His views modified with the years and women did compete at the 1900 Paris Games, although there were only 22 females out of 997 competitors.
The women's progress received a setback at the 1928 Antwerp Games when a number of athletes collapsed at the end of the 800-metres final.
"The affected dismay among male officials, with professed concern for the functional well-being of the female form, resulted in this race being omitted from the Games until 1960," wrote David Miller in The Official History of the Olympic Games and the IOC.
The 1500-metres was not introduced to the Games until 1972. The battle to introduce the women’s marathon was finally won in time for the 1984 Los Angeles Games.
Running in ferocious heat, American Joan Benoit clocked two hours 24 minutes 52 seconds. Her time was good enough to have won 13 of the 20 Olympic men's marathons up to that point.
THE MIGHTY ATOM
The pioneer of women's boxing hailed from the English county of Yorkshire. Barbara "The Mighty Atom" Buttrick,
was inspired by a female fighter from the early 1900s called Polly Burns.
Buttrick acquired a book on self-defence and, because of the ban in Britain, boxed in France. She moved to the United States in 1952 where she travelled from city to city in search of opponents.
On August 31, 1957, she knocked out the American bantamweight Phylis Kugler. It was a landmark fight as it was the first time a licence had been granted for woman to box. After retiring, Buttrick founded the Women's International Boxing Federation.
Professional boxing for women enjoyed some limelight thanks to Laila Ali, daughter of the famous Muhammad Ali.
Laila outpointed Jacqui Frazier, the daughter of the late Joe Frazier, who had fought in two unforgettable bouts
against Muhammad Ali.
Not everybody has welcomed the inclusion of women's boxing into the Games.
The British Medical Association opposed its introduction and Cuban coach Pedro Roque said: "Women should be showing off their beautiful faces; not getting punched in the face".
Before Thursday's fights, Buttrick, now 82, spoke for a generation of women who were denied the chance to compete at an Olympics. "I'm glad to see the times have changed. I would have liked to be one of the girls competing at these Games."
Additional reporting: supersport.com