The Mississauga News
Many find pugilism an ideal workout
Women embrace the sweet science
Nick Vassallo
April 13, 2005
They used to say a woman's place was in the kitchen. Say that now and some women might knock your block off. That's because, more and more, a woman's place in 2005 is in the boxing ring.

Whether it's for conditioning or for battle, the sport that has been known as the sport of kings is now an intense pastime for women. And the number of female boxers, especially here in Canada, is growing.

There are more than 600 registered female boxers in the country. With the success of the Oscar-winning film, Million Dollar Baby, female boxing has never had so much appeal.

Mississauga women are going head-over-heels for the sport. There are more than 250 women in the city who lace up the gloves at various fitness clubs. The hot spots for women boxers include Fuel Fitness, Kombat Arts, Huron Park Fitness and HUF Fitness.

On an average day there could be 20 to 30 women in each class at these gyms, either training for bouts or just keeping fit.

Former boxer Andy Dumas, who is currently a trainer at Huron Park Fitness, a public community centre, boxing is now a battle of the sexes.

"It's something that has always been considered a man's domain," said Dumas. "The popularity with boxing among women is on the rise over the last 8 to 10 years. It's phenomenal and I think it's going to get bigger and bigger."

For starters, boxing is the toughest workout possible for fitness-conscious women. According to Andy boxing is one of the best workouts.

"It's using every muscle in your body," he said. "You're learning a skill and, within 15 minutes, you'll have a good sweat going. The treadmill, the weights, while essential and effective, they still at times are less fun and boring."

For most females, boxing is seen only as an emotional release.

"For me it's the only means," said 19-year-old Marisa Anthony of Mississauga, who has been boxing for two years at Mississauga's Kombat Arts. "I don't like to get into fights with people, so I relieve my stress and anger in the ring,"

"It's the idea of getting to beat people up. For me it's also a way to keep out of trouble, to keep me focused on things. Also, it's the idea to accomplish something."

According to Anthony, to be prepared and stay focused, one must lay it all on the line. "When you're in the ring it's like life or death. So when you're training, it has to be a constant thing, you always have to be working. Whereas in a gym, you're not as motivated, because you're not getting your face bashed in."

Lisette Gonzalez, 22, of Brampton, who also trains at Kombat Arts, said, the fitness aspect is important, but the thought of self defense is another motivating factor.

"I do it (boxing) because it's a higher level of fitness and the ability to defend myself if the situation ever arose, then I would know what to do." Gonzalez who has been throwing punches for two years, said it's up to the individual to box for fitness or to compete.

"Boxing is a violent sport," said Gonzalez. "You can choose to fight and go into the ring and have bouts, or you can do it just as fitness and punch the bags. You don't have to get hit or hit someone else, to have a good workout."

Gonzalez said she will stick with boxing as a means of training and staying in great shape. "I've done the fighting...I had a fight, it wasn't for me. It's very violent, you have to be really willing to take the punches."
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