Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Watching Mary Kom and Katie Taylor at the Olympics

When 83-year-old Barbara Buttrick took the microphone in the Excel Centre yesterday, the world tilted just a little. She told us how she’d fought about one thousand exhibition bouts against men in 1940s England because there weren’t any women fighters.
And when she reminded us the Daily Mirror apologized for what they’d written about her 60 years ago, we got the first sign this would be a noisy afternoon at London2012.

Mixed in with those screaming fans, were so many boxers. I talked to women with Golden Gloves experience, women who’d trained through injuries, women who could hardly talk for emotion. Finally, the Olympic stage was theirs.

And then it was 5-time World Champion Mary Kom’s. It was simply incredible to finally see her fight live. She’s even stronger in person than you might think, and so, so comfortable inside the ropes. Maroua Rahali (Tunisia) tried her best but the third round score of six points to one says it all.

For me it was Katie Taylor and Natasha Jonas’ fight that really showed women’s boxing deserves to be in the Olympics. The floor shook under thousands of feet, the air split into roars of ‘Katie, Katie’ or “Team GB’ and dozens of Irish tricolours danced on the energy in the arena.

The decibel level hit 113.07, the highest of any event so far with just 10,000 people around the ring.

Jonas (GB) brought her A-game, all the fans and all the glitz but somehow, she couldn’t bring the power.

The speed, the tactics, the strength and the pure joy of winning. That was Taylor yesterday.

It was magnificent, probably one of the most exciting fights I’ve ever been at. And, yes, there were tears, hugging of strangers and an overwhelming sense that just for that moment, for that one tiny moment, all was right in the world.



Rahul said...

It doesnt matter if Mary has lost.She has already done a great thing by reaching till this point in the tournament especially because she has fought against all odds. SHe lost to a very strong opponent and hats off to her for her achievement. We are proud of you.

niamh said...

@Rahul - definitely! I was so exctied to see her fight on Monday, it's been an aim of mine for ages. I was so impressed with her, the crowd was chanting India, India in her honour. And she was brave fight out of her weight too, it's a big difference. Incredible fighter, in all senses of the word.