I was at a kickboxing show recently. I was looking forward to seeing the ladies in the ring and even writing a report for this blog. I was a bit surprised to see there were no female fights on the bill.
It was reminiscent of when I first started kickboxing. We used a local boxing club to train in. Most of the time I was the only girl in the building. Sometimes girls would come and go but it was mainly just me training with all the lads. There wasn’t even a proper changing room for women. I was given a small little kitchen to change in. I learned to keep my foot up against the door to keep it closed, with the lads barging into the room to get some water. Most would bow out apologetically when they seen me changing; but some would continue right into the room with “Ah sorry, I’m just gettin’ a drink, I’ll only be a minute”, with me half naked!
I’m glad to say that some things have changed for the better; for one, ladies changing rooms!
There are a lot more women involved in kickboxing now than there was then. You just have to walk into any kickboxing club to see this. But we have work to do to get even more women involved!
This month, I've spoken to Own Doyle, President of Kickboxing Organisation ISKA.
So Owen, tell us a little bit about yourself and how you got involved with the ISKA:
I started when I was 15 years old with amateur boxing and then went on to karate and then kickboxing. Over the years we worked quite a lot with Paddy Toland, who at that time was the president of the ISKA. When Paddy was stepping down he asked me to take over, and the rest as they say, is history!
Have you trained with many female students over the years?
Yeah, I've trained with a good few. There are more now. Before there was 2 or 3 girls in the gym, now you would see a ratio of 1 girl to 3 guys.
What do you think can be done to encourage women to take up the sport?
Start giving them fights on the shows and promoting them. Physically they do just as much as the guys, some even more so. They deserve to be recognized.
And as a coach, a promoter and the president of an organisation, do you think the women are exciting to watch?
Some are. I've seen some cracking fights over the years. Even your own one on Eurosport against that French one, (Chantel Menard) was a great fight. I remember watching that. Jesus, you were ripped off! Decisions like that would put anyone off the sport!
Would you promote them and have them top bill your show?
Yes, I would have absolutely no problem having a lady topping billing a show.
Why do you think there are not as many female fights on the shows?
Some people (promoters / coaches) are still living in the stone ages. It's all about changing attitudes towards women. Even from young girls. It's about changing parents attitudes also, that it's OK for their little girl to want to do kickboxing. We need to nurture them from a young age. The more women that are put on shows, the more acceptable it becomes!
What do you think we can do to encourage promoters to put more females on their shows?
Well if she brings something to the table, for example - ticket sales, promoters would be more inclined to put them on the show.
Listen Owen, thank you so much for taking the time to talk to me. It's good to get a promoter / organisation president's perspective on this.
There needs to be more women on kickboxing shows, not only to showcase their talent, but also to encourage others out there watching the shows to take up this amazing sport. Just one female fight on the bill could be enough to inspire Jane Doe watching; “Do you know what, I’d love to do that”, or “I could do that”!
Any coaches out there, encourage your ladies if you haven't already done so, to have a go and any girls or ladies reading this, GIVE IT A GO! Show everyone out there just what you can do!
On 15th November in Enniscorthy, Wexford, our very own Jennifer "Baby Wild Thing" Molloy will be one of the top bills on the show when she takes on Jade Gillen from Dungannon Kickboxing Club for the WIMAAO Junior European Title. See poster below for all the details.
Next time I'll be doing a special blog on this European Title fight!
Before I sign off I'd like to remind everyone about our upcoming WIMAAO Martial Arts Gala which takes place in Enniscorthy Dragons, Carrigbruce, Cherryorchard, Enniscorthy, Wexford, hosted by Mark Enstone. The gala will feature demonstrations from different Martial Arts; (Ken, myself and Jen will also be putting on a demo) and spars for juniors and seniors. Also there will be Referee and Judges course on the day. There are not many female referees and judges out there, so this could be an opportunity for more females to get qualified as a WIMAAO official.
Here is a poster with details about the Gala. If you want more info contact: 089 4373449
Send me in your stories, experiences or photos or anything you'd like discussed, or upcoming events you'd like mentioned to firstname.lastname@example.org