Monday, October 20, 2008

Women Taking Their Place in Kickboxing Ring

“The growth of boxing and kickboxing for women has caught the attention of the fitness industry. While boxing gyms of the past were often dimly lit, focused on competitive fighters, and predominantly male, today's boxing gyms resemble any other gym, with bright lights, loud music and a sizable number of female members. LA Boxing, a franchise specializing in boxing and kickboxing for fitness, was listed in July 2008 as one of 25 fastest-growing fitness companies by the International Health, Racquet and Sportsclub Association, and the company reports that in 2006 and 2007 it expanded its number of locations by 80 percent. It makes sense that a few women who try kickboxing and boxing in a class would fall in love with the sport and decide to fight at an amateur or professional level. Lately they have plenty of role models to choose from. The recent ‘Fight Girls’ reality show followed a group of women competing in Thailand, and the release of films such as ‘Million Dollar Baby,’ and a documentary featuring Lucia Rijker, one of the most renowned female kickboxers, means more women are achieving public visibility. Laila Ali and Gina Carano (a.k.a. ‘Crush’) are known for their fighting as well as their regular roles on ‘American Gladiators.’ And the rise of mixed martial arts competitions, in which most fighters have trained in some form of kickboxing, has spawned a new audience - some female - for combat sports, as well as several competition leagues and a host of reality shows. But while the public has a new appreciation for kickboxing and the athletes who compete in the sport, the notion of women punching each other still makes many uncomfortable. The idea of women emerging from a fight cut and bloody might give pause to some.”

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