Friday, November 10, 2017

You can't be it unless you see it; Katie Taylor and women's boxing in Ireland

Katie Taylor Champion of the World!  Photo: Katie Taylor Instagram
I was listening to Sonia O' Sullivan on the radio today; she was laughing about meeting Katie Taylor. Laughing because she found it surprising Taylor was excited to meet her when Sonia felt it should be the other way around.

Sonia explained that when she was running she never felt like an inspiration or a hero to people. But as she grew older, she realised it does matter. She didn't say it but I guess what she was talking about is 'If you can't see it, you can't be it.'

In Ireland Katie Taylor has single-handedly changed the view of women's boxing. From that quiet young girl you see on old RTE clips to the machine she is now in the ring, she's brought most of the country along with her.

And does it really matter if that was her mission or not? She's focused on winning, but has always taken time to see how wider issues impact on that, she's never shied away from speaking out. She's criticised the lack of media coverage for women's boxing, she's become the face of everything from Adidas shoes to milk. 

That's a financial gain for Katie herself, but that level of sponsorship makes other women fighters seem less unusual. It means when young girls say they want to box, there is understanding rather than raised eyebrows. I can't find any firm statistics on how many more girls have taken up boxing since London2012 unfortunately. But anecdotally and from being in gyms myself, I can see it's happening.

 I've spoken to some of the other women boxing here on this blog, and more to come.

And if you want to know more about why Katie is still such a champion, check out the Instagram feed from her trainer Ross Enamit.  He shares behind the scenes of their training, but for a real insight watch this 'training in the snow' routine.  Nuts. I mean, really nuts. 

It can't have been easy changing trainers, but she's made it work. Another way to show it's not always about the male supporting you, it's about what's in your own fighting heart.

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