Women in Sports: Boxing

Updated February 21, 2017 | Factmonster Staff
  • In 1876, Nell Saunders defeated Rose Harland in the first United States women's boxing match. Saunders received a silver butter dish as a prize.
  • In 1940 Belle Martel of Van Nuys, California, became the first woman boxing referee when she officiated at eight bouts in San Bernardino, California.
  • The first woman to take part in the Golden Gloves boxing tournament was Marion Bermudez who boxed in Mexico City in 1975.
  • The first woman boxing judge in the United States was Carol Polis. She was licensed in 1974.
  • In 1996, Christy Martin, a.k.a.“The Coal Miner's Daughter” fought Diedre Gogarty on the undercard of a Mike Tyson fight. The battle was seen by an estimated 1.1 million viewers and instantly made the sport and Martin more popular.
  • Women's boxing continues to gain popularity. In fact, Muhammad Ali's daughter Laila became a prize fighter, as did Joe Frazier's daughter Jacqueline. And like their fathers, the two women have become rivals and seem to enjoy verbally sparring with each other even when they're not in the ring. On June 8, 2001, Ali scored an eight-round decision over Frazier in front of 6,500 fans.
  • In 2007, the International Female Boxers Association named Kelsey Jeffries and Holly Holm co-Fighters of the Year for their unprecedented courage in defending their individual IFBA titles.
  • Women's boxing was included in the Olympics for the first time in London during the summer of 2012. Thirty-six women competed in three categories: Flyweight (51kg or 112 pounds), lightweight (60kg or 132 pounds), and Middleweight (75kg or 160 pounds).

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