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Last Updated: Tuesday, 22 August 2006, 11:36 GMT 12:36 UK
Fighting it out - should women box?
Hilary Swank
Hilary Swank in the Oscar winning film, Million Dollar Baby
A team of Irish women boxers have set their sights on the London Olympics.

By 2012, they want their sport, popularised by Oscar winner Hilary Swank in the film Million Dollar Baby, to be recognised internationally.

But former world flyweight champion Dave Boy McAuley, from Larne in County Antrim, has his doubts.

Flat noses, cauliflower ears and possible brain damage - it's a tough, rough sport, he said, and women just are not built for it.

In Coleraine at the weekend, 20 of the top sportswomen from the north and south of Ireland took part in a special boxing training camp.

With them was Anya Norman, development officer for women's boxing with the Irish Amateur Boxing Association, who believes passionately in her sport.

"If Ireland wants to have women boxers at the 2012 Olympics, we need national championships. We don't run national championships yet, but we will, that is our long-term plan," she said.

She pointed out that women's involvement in the sport was nothing new.

The Alis
Laila Ali has helped make women's boxing popular

"Girls have not been out of boxing, they have had a pause since the 20th Century, we had female boxing in the Olympics in 1904," she pointed out.

The sport has increased in popularity in recent years thanks to boxers like Laila Ali and Jaqueline Frazier-Lyde - daughters of boxing legends and old rivals Muhammed Ali and Joe Frazier.

But to Dave 'Boy' McAuley, women boxing is a step too far.

"It is a tough, rugged sport, punches are not vitamins, women are not built to take that sort of punishment," he said.

"They would feel it more. It is not a nice thing to see women knocking 10 bells out of each other. I don't think it is nice to see women beating the living daylights out of each other."

Nevertheless, he wished the would-be Olympians good luck, saying he wasn't sexist, believed in equality and wasn't against women boxers "having a go".

His view is not shared by European lightweight champion Katie Taylor from Wicklow who was at the weekend's training camp.

She would like to see her sport feature in the Olympics. It is about equality after all, she said.

"Men are allowed to box, so women should be allowed to as well," she said.

"It is a very tough sport, but I love the training.

"The best thing is winning the gold medal, standing up on the podium and hearing your national anthem. There is nothing like it."

"Hopefully, in London in 2012, we will be classed as an Olympic sport."

Women's boxing ruled out for 2008
27 Oct 05 |  Olympics 2012
Tough girls in the ring
11 Aug 00 |  TV and Radio
Women's boxing gains Indian support
23 Mar 01 |  Other Sports

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