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Do girls box?
July 11, 2005 12:33 AM   Subscribe

"Do girls box?" she asked, turning to her father one evening. "Is it OK for girls to box?" Part 1 of 10-year old boxer Seniesa Estrada's story. (reg. req.)
posted by riffraff (36 comments total)

 
Here's Part 2.
posted by riffraff at 12:44 AM on July 11, 2005


That's a cool story, thanks for that.
posted by teece at 12:56 AM on July 11, 2005


Wow. To teach a beautiful young girl what is perhaps the ugliest and most brutal "sport" in the world I find almost indescribably sad.

The nightmares this story will likely evoke in me will make this a sleepless night.

Thanks, riffraff.
posted by Chasuk at 1:16 AM on July 11, 2005


Now, I REALLY don't think this is what Morrissey had in mind.
posted by basicchannel at 3:28 AM on July 11, 2005


My knowledge of boxing is limited entirely to blockbuster dramas, but is it safe for an ten year old to be taking part in the sport, regardless of gender? What is the likelihood of permanent damage? What precautions are taken with younger fighters?
posted by Simon! at 3:32 AM on July 11, 2005


This is the movie Clint Eastwood should have made.
posted by alumshubby at 3:38 AM on July 11, 2005


I followed the link and scanned the article. When I saw Mohammed Ali mentioned, my fears were realized: this article isn't about the type of boxing I like.
posted by clyde at 3:59 AM on July 11, 2005


is it safe for an ten year old to be taking part in the sport, regardless of gender? What is the likelihood of permanent damage? What precautions are taken with younger fighters?

Headgear, pretty extensive (hand) wrapping and big thick gloves, along with the lack of power in 10 year old legs mean there's very limited chance of damage. Less than kiddy rugby most likely. Most of their time will be spent doing drills on bags and pads and cardio stuff anyway.
posted by jamesonandwater at 6:36 AM on July 11, 2005


To teach a beautiful young girl what is perhaps the ugliest and most brutal "sport" in the world I find almost indescribably sad.

Would you be less sad if she was a homely young girl? What about a handsome young boy?
posted by amber_dale at 6:59 AM on July 11, 2005


Thanks riffraff, Seniesa sounds like a real life Million Dollar Baby. I found this to be a powerful, touching story.
posted by nickyskye at 7:24 AM on July 11, 2005


I found this to be a powerful, touching story.

Same here.

The girl's father obviously doesn't want his daughter to make the same mistakes he did. Boxing is far from brutal and ugly - it instils discipline and a sense of self-worth.
posted by the cuban at 8:01 AM on July 11, 2005


Would you be less sad if she was a homely young girl? What about a handsome young boy?
word, amber_dale. I know where you're coming from Chasuk, but boxing is a *hell* of a lot more to a lot of people than just "the ugliest and most brutal 'sport'". Life cannot be one long hippie parade for most of us, so we identify with the distilled crisis/rage/power that boxing offers. Ten years old is pretty young, and I definitely have issues with that, but this article moved me to tears: *not* because it's sad, but because this dad loved his daughter more than his own cultural stereotypes ("girls don't box"). He knew what fighting had given him *and* what it took away, but he trusted his daughter to find out for herself. Thanks for the article, riffraff! :-)
posted by ibeji at 8:08 AM on July 11, 2005


Girls who participate in sports are less likely to get pregnant or use drugs. From here:

The positive effects of sports on grades are especially pronounced among Latinas, the ethnic group with the highest teen birth rate.

Seniesa's dad is a deeply imperfect person, but he's got Olympic dreams for his daughter. Compare this to her mother, who wants her to be a cheerleader and get interested in boys. Sounds like a one-way ticket to Teenmomsville to me.

If this was a story about some boy from the ghetto who wanted to be a football star, I don't think anyone would be wringing their hands over the brutality of the sport, even though every season 20% of high school football players sustain a brain injury.
posted by amber_dale at 8:30 AM on July 11, 2005


I have boxed and kick boxed now for over 12 years. It is a beautiful and pure form of physical self expression that you can't appreciate fully until you do it.

To declare it as "ugly" is simply ignorant. Yes. It certainly can be brutal. So can running a marathon. Or ballet. Or mountain climbing. Or just about any worth while physical endeavor that stretches your body beyond it's perceived limits. Survival in this world can be brutal and we see our way past that.

It's this inclination to civilize —kindness— that kills in boxing.

Do any of you realize that boxing fatalities INCREASED when the 16oz glove was introduced? They spread out the concussive force of the blow - and create a cumulative effect where the fighter is still standing but taking brain damage. Gloves protect the hands - not the head. Now a boxer can hit harder from imprecise angles that normally would've broken or injured the hand.

Boxing gloves made the fight winning knock-out spectacular. Gloves were not introduced for the health of the boxer.

If people wanted to save lives in boxing we would go BACK to bare knuckle fighting. It would be bloodier. More facial bones would be broken. But lives would be saved.

But what people want is a sport that LOOKS civilized.

Case and point is UFC/NHB cage fighting before gloves were mandated. The mixed martial arts systems are very close to the original Bare Knuckle form of boxing. I think there was only one death in NHB prior to gloves and restrictive rules. NHB fighting is statistically safer than football, hockey or soccer.

I taught kids karate. I do think 10 years old is too young. Maybe 12 or 13. I think it's too young for Karate or any combat sport except wrestling.

Great article.
posted by tkchrist at 9:43 AM on July 11, 2005


amber_dale asks:

Would you be less sad if she was a homely young girl? What about a handsome young boy?

Less sad? Absolutely not.

ibeji:

Boxing is a ticket for poorer members of society to escape poverty. The participants beat each other until one of them is knocked out, or until one is judged the winner. Read those words again: until one of them is knocked out. We are talking about a "sport" where the object is to cause deliberate brain damage. It can't be given nobility or grace, regardless of the distilled crisis/rage/power that its fans project there. To subject a child to a "sport" which has as a goal the infliction of deliberate brain damage is as evil and wrong as anything I have ever read.
posted by Chasuk at 9:56 AM on July 11, 2005


Boxing is far from brutal and ugly - it instils [sic] discipline and a sense of self-worth.
Yup, until you suffer from permanent brain damage or just simply die.

Boxing is not a sport, but a barbaric throwback to the days of the Roman gladiators. How anyone can find the spectacle of two people attempting to pound each others' faces to a pulp in the hopes that one or the other will pass out from cranial trauma is beyond me. It's disgusting.
posted by nlindstrom at 10:11 AM on July 11, 2005


I will say that the attitude of the girl seems to have strong leanings towards boxing for the violence's sake. That seems to be how she's portrayed as acting in the article, at least. Admittedly, a lot of young kids in any sort of sport get aggressive, but it sounds like she may be acting out using her boxing training in negative ways.

I still identify, and I still think it's a great story. I'm looking forward to reading the rest of it. Her attitude worries me a little, though, and I definitely hope she's gaining patience and self-control along with the means of harnessing her body's capabilities in the ring.
posted by redsparkler at 10:18 AM on July 11, 2005


It's not all Tyson biting ears off, nlindstrom. Olympic style (amateur) fights last three rounds, with mandatory headgear and depowered gloves. Could you be injured? Yes, of course. But rugby union, rugby league, scub diving, etc rank far higher in deaths.

And the sort of recreational boxing that I and plenty of others participate in is less risky still - and provides exactly the benefits that you quote above, along with serious fitness.
posted by jamesonandwater at 10:22 AM on July 11, 2005


goal the infliction of deliberate brain damage

So you must be against Football, lacrosse and Hockey? All of those cause MORE "deliberate" brain damage and serious injury in kids every year.

Golly. Not to mention bikes! Over 400 kids killed on bikes every year! Almost 50 percent of head injuries sustained in sports or recreational activities occur during bicycling, skateboarding, or skating incidents. Ban anything with wheels now! Good lord. swimming pools! Hundreds of kids died last year in backyard swimming pools. Barbaric.

How many kids dies in boxing last year?... hmmm... Zero.

Coat the world in nerf or somebody could get hurt!
posted by tkchrist at 10:24 AM on July 11, 2005


FYI:

* basketball
More than 207,000 children ages five to 14 were treated in hospital emergency rooms for basketball-related injuries.

* baseball and softball
Nearly 117,000 children ages five to 14 were treated in hospital emergency rooms for baseball-related injuries. Baseball also has the highest fatality rate among sports for children ages 5 to 14, with three to four children dying from baseball injuries each year.

* bicycling
Nearly 275,000 children ages five to 14 were treated in hospital emergency rooms for bicycle-related injuries.

* football
Almost 188,000 children ages five to 14 were treated in hospital emergency rooms for football-related injuries.

* ice skating
Nearly 14,000 children ages five to 14 were treated in hospital emergency rooms for ice skating-related injuries.

* in-line skating/roller skating
Nearly 65,000 children ages five to 14 were treated in hospital emergency rooms for in-line skating-related injuries.

* skateboarding
More than 60,000 children ages five to 14 were treated in hospital emergency rooms for skateboarding-related injuries.

* sledding
More than 13,000 children ages five to 14 were treated in hospital emergency rooms for sledding-related injuries.

* snow skiing/snowboarding
More than 41,000 children ages five to 14 were treated in hospital emergency rooms for snow boarding and snow skiing-related injuries.

* soccer
About 76,000 children ages five to 14 were treated in hospital emergency rooms for soccer-related injuries.

* trampolines
Nearly 75,000 children ages 14 and under were treated in hospital emergency rooms for trampoline-related injuries.
posted by tkchrist at 10:29 AM on July 11, 2005


How anyone can find the spectacle of two people attempting to pound each others' faces to a pulp in the hopes that one or the other will pass out from cranial trauma is beyond me. It's disgusting.

I think we have already been given the answer, nlindstrom. The fans of this "sport" need a method of distilling their crisis/rage/power. Watching others attempting to escape poverty (or venting their own crisis/rage/power problems) by inflicting cranial trauma on one another is perfectly okay.

tkchrist:

Is the goal of football, lacrosse and hockey the infliction of brain damage? I didn't know. If this is actually the case, then I am opposed, obviously, especially in relation to children.
posted by Chasuk at 10:32 AM on July 11, 2005


Football is not a sport, but a barbaric throwback to our hunter animal instincts. How anyone can find the spectacle of a man running away while another attempts to chase him down and pound him into the ground purely for the purpose of taking a ball away from him enjoyable is beyond me. It's disgusting.

Ping pong is not a sport, but a barbaric throwback to early fight-play meant to instill competitive and therefore aggressive tendencies in its players. How anyone can find the spectacle of two men hitting a ball back and forth and slowly nurturing their basest fighting instincts enjoyable is beyond me. It's disgusting.

Chess is not a game, but a barbaric throwback to early war games meant to encourage the logical thinking skills and planning abilities necessary for plotting effective battlefield maneuvers. How anyone can find the spectacle of two men engaging in a gross parody of war that has led to millions upon millions of violent, painful deaths throughout recorded human history enjoyable is beyond me. It's disgusting.

[This girl is awesome. Way to channel those energies! The Million Dollar Baby comparision is spot-on--I only hope the ending isn't as depressing.]
posted by schroedinger at 10:37 AM on July 11, 2005


schroedinger:

If the CURRENT goals of football, ping pong, and chess were as you described them, then I would find them disgusting, yes. Was that your point?

Truthfully, admitting to my own bias, I find football, baseball, basketball, about as interesting as, well, rugby, soccer, and ping pong, which I find nearly as interesting as watching paint dry, or spreading peanut butter on toast, or picking my nose.

While I find football, baseball, basketball, rugby, soccer, and ping pong all extraordinarily dull, I don't find them offensive, nor objectionable to teach to children, because their goal is ostensibly fitness and teaching coordination/cooperation, not the deliberate infliction of brain damage.
posted by Chasuk at 11:05 AM on July 11, 2005


Is the goal of football, lacrosse and hockey the infliction of brain damage?

Goal. I see. I see. It's not what ACTUALLY happens that bothers you. You don't know the first thing about boxing. Or any contact sport, for that matter.

Nevermind kids are permanently injured in staggering numbers in various activities much greater than ever happens in boxing - it's what they feel in their hearts that counts? We intended to hurt people playing football. The crowds had cheers for it.

So what about Karate? In Karate most of the techniques taught are intended to KILL an opponent. Not that they actually could. But the kata is rife with neck breaks and strikes to the throat. They just don't do that in competition.

Or Judo and Aikido. Hell. Take away the mat and you have quadriplegics.

The goal of boxing is to train in boxing. The ring is just a test of the training. And the goal in the ring is to win. You can win by making the other guy miss. You can win out maneuvering the other guy. A KO is not the only way of winning. In fact KO's are fairly rare. But yes. Are you beating on the other guy? Yes. Do you want to hurt him? Sometimes. Until the bell rings. Then you have a brother you would die for.
posted by tkchrist at 11:08 AM on July 11, 2005


If this is actually the case, then I am opposed, obviously, especially in relation to children.

At least someone is thinking about the children albeit rabidly and perhaps misplacedly and with application of broad stereotypes. But the CHILDREN!
posted by Ogre Lawless at 11:09 AM on July 11, 2005


Boxing at its very worst is worlds better than most of the options available to kids in rough neighborhoods. Plenty of handwringing about possible brain damage in this thread, but little mention of her dad getting dragged behind a car or shot with a shotgun. Or the part where her dad beats the tar out her mom's boyfriend. When you live on the outskirts of hell, I think your options are potential physical harm now, or potential physical harm later.
posted by Nahum Tate at 12:31 PM on July 11, 2005


Girls who participate in sports are less likely to get pregnant or use drugs.

Oh my god, not drugs!

Seniesa's dad is a deeply imperfect person, but he's got Olympic dreams for his daughter. Compare this to her mother, who wants her to be a cheerleader and get interested in boys. Sounds like a one-way ticket to Teenmomsville to me.

That sounds like a ticket to preppy normality to me, oh wait we're talking about a poor mexican. Nevermind. it's all pregnacy and drugs for her then. Obviously these evil "guys" will corrupt her precious womanly essance.

---

Ahem, anyway I don't have a problem with her boxing, as they say injury is less likely then in football.
posted by delmoi at 12:32 PM on July 11, 2005


Also, god this is some overblown prose. I don't get how people can read this stuff, every sentence an overblown journey of triumph and discovery. Seriously.
posted by delmoi at 12:38 PM on July 11, 2005


Wow. The most moving story I've read in a long time. I cried like a baby. I don't care about the overblown prose, the facts behind it are inspiring and deeply moving.

Hey Chasuk, own a car? Just asking. Because, you know, the risk of using a car to go wherever you're going is about 400 times greater than the risk of using public transportation. So obviously people should be prevented from putting their beautiful young children in cars. Right?

Equality opportunity doesn't mean only letting others to do things YOU think are "good." It means allowing them to have equal opportunity to do what they WANT to do even if you think what they want to do is stupid. The girl obviously had a deep desire to box. She has a natural talent for it, a natural inclination for it. You would deny her it and force her to do...what? something more appropriate for a pretty young girl? Come on, let's be honest: that's bigotry.

For the record, I also think boxing is brutal and ugly and wouldn't do it myself. I just don't think it would be appropriate for me to force those values on other people. Doesn't hurt me if they box, and I find it deeply satisfying that society has progressed to the point where a girl who WANTS to box CAN.
posted by lastobelus at 5:48 PM on July 11, 2005


Look, delmoi, the girl is from a seriously disadvantaged background and an unstable home. Do you really think she's better off experimenting with heroin like her dad than boxing? Or better off having sex younger? Do you honestly think that this family is going to give the girl a copy of Our Bodies, Ourselves and get her on the Pill? That doesn't seem to be happening for most Latina girls.
(And my high school had its share of knocked up cheerleaders, so I'm just extrapolating from experience.)
posted by amber_dale at 6:13 PM on July 11, 2005


every season 20% of high school football players sustain a brain injury

Good god. How the heck can schools outlaw trampolines, but not football?!
posted by five fresh fish at 6:15 PM on July 11, 2005


And Chasuk, you are obviously arguing from a point of uninformed bias, and an internally inconsistent one at that. That just ain't gonna swing it on MeFi.
posted by five fresh fish at 6:17 PM on July 11, 2005


every season 20% of high school football players sustain a brain injury

That explains a lot about my high school experience, actually.
posted by kindall at 10:59 PM on July 11, 2005


lastobelus writes:

Hey Chasuk, own a car?

I own a car. However, I didn't learn to drive until I was 26, and this was due, I confess, to a deep antipathy towards cars. When my license expired, four years later, I didn't get another license until I was 42. I still seldom drive if I don't have to: I don't like the process, I dislike the smell, the noise, the ugliness they have created where there was previously a beautiful landscape, the laziness they inspire, the pollution they cause, the waste of resources, but I still hypocritically use one, sometimes just to get a loaf of bread, where if I wasn't a hypocrite, I would ride my bicycle. I do acknowledge that often a car is an unfortunate necessity. I also acknowledge your point.

I find it deeply satisfying that society has progressed to the point where a girl who WANTS to box CAN.

Whereas I find it deeply distressing that a girl (or anyone else) would WANT to box. Call this bigotry if you will; it might be. However, I find scat and BDSM sort of depressing, too, even they it doesn't hurt me that other people enjoy it.
posted by Chasuk at 12:44 AM on July 12, 2005


five fresh fish writes:

And Chasuk, you are obviously arguing from a point of uninformed bias, and an internally inconsistent one at that. That just ain't gonna swing it on MeFi.

You don't know enough about me to make that statement, five fresh fish. I have boxed. I've participated in sports. My father forced me to take boxing lessons when I was a young teen. I was tall for my age, with long arms, and I accidentally stepped on the toes of my instructor, momentarily pinning him, so that when I punched him he went down. No one ever asked me back, after that. I was glad. I found it a horrifying nightmare.

My father also forced me to play in Little League. It is difficult to describe how uncoordinated I truly am. No one believes me until they witness it. I've taken dancing lessons (of my own volition), and had the instructors finally tell me that maybe I was right: maybe I was too much of a klutz to ever learn to dance. I spent four years of striking out in Little League, being taunted and jeered by my peers, physically assaulted after (and during) school by my Little League teammates, and the abuse didn't make me a better person. Years of physical and verbal abuse might make some people stronger, but they only reason I didn't kill myself is because I was too much of a coward.

Reading what I just typed makes me realize that I do have an anti-sport bias. but it isn't uninformed or internally inconsistent. I hate all sports (and I acknowledge that this may be illogical), but boxing perhaps more than the others.
posted by Chasuk at 1:04 AM on July 12, 2005


My apologies. You are not uninformed and internally inconsistent: you are simply projecting your childhood experiences on everyone else, and completely ignoring that other people may actually enjoy a sport or have valid reasons for wishing to participate in them.

I think it's safe to presume you don't like eating juicy beetles, piercing your nipples, or jumping out of airplanes. Are you so adamantly distressed and disapproving of those people who do do those things, as you are of boxing?

How far would you extend this attitude? If you dislike Pepsi, do you get upset when you spot someone drinking a Coke?
posted by five fresh fish at 1:44 AM on July 12, 2005


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