Gloria Peek, the head coach of the U.S. women’s boxing squad, makes the most idiotic statement of the week. In a piece at USA Today in which team member Claressa Shields responds when asked about sparring with men: “Any guy I get into the ring with, I think I can make them respect me.”
As what, a human being or as a boxer? Coach Peek suspends reality in her response, as the newspaper reports:
In the end, both [men and women boxers] help each other. Says Peek: “But certainly the women do a lot to bolster the men’s intensity. Why? Can I just come out and say it? Male ego.”
Yeah, which is why NCAA basketball has a long-running debate about women’s teams using men as higher-quality practice dummies rather than debates in men’s basketball using women players in a similar capacity. Actually, I make an unneccesary leap to make the point. Men’s boxing doesn’t bring in female spar partners. They provide no benefit to the boxer. So Peek’s comment (granted, probably a bit of quote-mining on the part of the reporter) is pointless, self-serving, and is empty activism at its root.
Claressa Shields, Marlen Esparaza, and Queen Underwood
The only capacity in which a woman could bolster a boxer’s intensity is if he were trying to impress her because he finds her attractive. Which brings us to another piece, this time by Slate, on this latest feminist victory.
Anita Powell asks why, despite the fact that many Olympians have recently posed nude or semi-nude, no female boxers have. The simplest answer, which Powell avoids in search of the sophisticated one, is that there are only three women on the squad – Marlen Esparaza, Queen Underwood, and Claressa Shields. And one of those, Shields, is 17 years old, a fact which, in conjunction with the fact that there are only three female boxers merely underscores the lack of forethought that went into this piece and was sacrificed for an eye-raising headline.
Another reason, the least palatable to Slate types, is that two of the three squad members are not that attractive. Marlen Esparaza is good looking, and she has a contract with Cover Girl, so it’s anyone’s guess why she hasn’t posed nude (it’s interesting that the question is posed in the “why not, everyone cool is doing it” mode). An article at Deadspin provides a clue though. Esparaza’s trainer, and the other female boxers for that matter, is shown to be quite strict. Esparaza is quoted as saying that her life as a boxer is miserable. She has no free time, doesn’t date, and her coach won’t let her wear pink or do girly things. So perhaps it’s the particularly Spartan nature of boxing that explains why none of the *three* female boxers have shown us their tits (have any male boxers posed? Not that I’m sad if they haven’t).
Or, maybe Anita Powell has just dragged me down into the pits of Slate hell, where irony and hidden truth rules. Maybe nobody has asked these women (or just Marlen Esparaza who could easily land a spread) to pose naked. That would be the easiest answer.