Breaking Down the Barriers for Women in Boxing

My bags are packed and I’m headed to Kazakhstan, where I will be working with the top level boxers in the 2016 Women’s World Boxing Championships. After being selected by AIBA International Boxing Association as an ambassador for women’s boxing, I have been given many opportunities to speak on the topic of women in sport.

Recently I was interviewed by the Female Coaching Network who also did a week long feature on my organization Fight To End Cancer. After answering some very in-depth questions, it was pointed out to me that I had broken through some pretty solid barriers in the past year without even realizing.


This is the first time in my life that being a female in sport has actually been notably positive.


I surprised myself when I said those words, but it reminded me of some incredible people who have paved the way for women like myself, not only in boxing, but in the world of sports. In recent history, there are two Canadian women who truly stand out for their contributions, in what could be considered a revolution in the boxing world:

Mary Spencer – First Canadian woman to compete in the Olympics for boxing. Mary represented Canada at 75kg in the London 2012 Olympic Games.


Mandy Bujold –  Only female boxer in history to win 2 Pan American Games titles. Mandy will also be representing Canada at 51kg in 2016 Rio Olympic Games.


These are just two remarkable athletes that make up a long list of women who have inspired not only my career choices, but countless others — men, women and children.

As an ambassador with AIBA, and through my reach in the Fight To End Cancer, working to empower women through the sport of boxing exhilarates me.


Including a female bout in the Fight To End Cancer is probably one of the most important components of the event.

(Jane Watson and Dawn Ramsay-Brown — Co-Main Event, Fight To End Cancer 2014 – Photo was taken after they fought)

One thing that I fight against every year is from people saying ‘oh man, are these girls going to fight… look how pretty they are?!’ And that’s the first reaction people have to the female boxers, every single year. It’s so important to me to create that dialogue, because not only are they raising money to fight cancer, they are such instrumental pieces to the puzzle when it comes to making people recognize that boxing is a sport for everyone.


Boxing is just a metaphor for what we are all trying to do in this life, and everyone is part of that!


To include women in the event is essential and every year the women’s fight is the fight of the night! They are strong, aggressive, they are tactical and technical. As a woman, I can tell you that everything we do, we do it with our whole heart – not that the guys don’t, but it’s an expectation that the guys will fight and the girls won’t. Especially beautiful girls…and we have these gorgeous women fighting; it’s a nice thing to see them breaking the mold and getting hit in the face!


Paige Cunningham with her coach, Virgil Barrow before her fight in the 2015 Fight To End Cancer Gala.

As far as we have come for female boxing, people are still confused as to how women can get in the ring and fight like a man, which is not what they are doing. They are just boxing – competing in a sport. I’m honoured to be able to promote women boxing as well as fighting to end cancer.



Jennifer coaching at her clubBio: Jennifer is a boxing coach, referee, judge, gym owner and founder of the charity ‘Fight To End Cancer’.  Based in Toronto, Canada at her own Boxing Gym, Kingsway Boxing, Jennifer has just been announced as one of the 9 women to be an international ambassador for the Amateur International Boxing Association.