I guess I’ll start in a completely “original” fashion by describing my project (but who knows? It may be helpful if anyone outside of our class fancies reading this post or I wouldn’t blame anyone for simply forgetting what my topic is). For my Capstone project I have decided to do a podcast interview with my incredible teammates about our experiences as women boxers and being in a sport traditionally dominated by men. I also decided for context reasons I would introduce the podcast with a timeline about the history of boxing for those who are unfamiliar. My thought process is that history will provide context and perhaps strike interest for those will little to no knowledge about boxing. My research was not necessarily genre based as I haven’t honed in on specific podcasts I want to use as models, but I listen to podcasts fairly regularly so I’m not concerned on finding genre specific models at the moment. However, my research hunt in the past few weeks has turned up some extremely content rich sources. For example, here’s a sample of some of the facts I’ve discovered about the history of boxing:
- 4000 BC: Historical evidence indicates that boxing may have originated in Northern Africa around this time. The sport also spread to Roman and Grecian cultures. In Rome, the sport was utilized for entertainment of the upper class and often the matches occurred between slaves or prisoners with the winner earning their freedom. These bouts were often fought to the death.
- 1743: Jack Boughton from Britain established the first set of rules for boxing after he killed one of his opponents in the ring. He is known as “The Father of Boxing”.
- 1908: American Jack Johnson became the first black heavyweight champion and this created a lot of controversy. Many white boxers refused to take fights against black boxers. Racial discrimination in the boxing world was rampant well into the 20th century. Jack Johnson was harassed so frequently during his reign as champion, he was forced out of the United States.
- 1936: American fighter Joe Louis was knocked out in the 12th round of a fight against Germany’s Max Schmeling. The next year Joe Louis won the heavyweight championship against James Braddock, but refused to declare himself a champion until a rematch with Schmeling. The rematch was seen as a confrontation between the US and Nazi Germany, with Louis representing African Americans and Schmeling representing Aryan culture. Even Hitler and President Roosevelt themselves made statements prior to the fight. Joe Louis knocked out Schmeling in the first round creating a pivotal moment for black athletes in the US.
- 1993: Women are allowed to fight at an amatuer boxing level for the first time and after many discrimination lawsuits against USA boxing in the 1970s and 80s.
These are simply 5 of the amazing stories I discovered after reading up on the extensive history of the sport of boxing. I, myself, a superfan of the sport did not even know boxing dated back to 4000 BC. I also knew women were not allowed to box until the 20th century but I didn’t realize the official date was as late as 1993 for amatuer boxing. I think this raises questions and concerns about how the sport’s man-centric origin impacts women in the sport today, which is why my next part of the project will be an investigation, an extensive look into how myself and my female teammates have experienced the sport. Topics in the podcast will include how others perceive us as women boxers, our favorite moments or memories of the sport, what makes us passionate about boxing, and probably most importantly, how we view ourselves and claim our identities as fighters.
I think since conducting my historical research for the timeline, I’ve been wondering if the manner in which boxing was established (as being a show of manliness, of bravery, a demonstration of a man’s ability to be strong and tough) has something to do with why women are not as respected as men in the sport. Everything about the sport goes against the traditional idea of a woman: a homemaker, a caregiver, a lover. Being a fighter contradicts the idea of traditional femininity in every aspect. A woman who fights is someone who makes herself known and makes her punches known even more so. But why is it that a woman who fights cannot also be viewed as someone who can love or care? Why can a man claim to love fighting but when a woman asserts the same thing she’s seen as socially unacceptable, repulsive, or violent? Is our world so divided?
Now I just need to design the timeline for the history of boxing because that will serve as my project introduction. I’ve already begun designing the layout and have 33 different moments in history I hope to include as well as a picture correlating with each major event. I think I can definitely have a solid draft by March 10th as I have already done most of the work. ((Also, March 10th is the day I get to see my all-time hero, the 77-1 record fighter, 2 time Olympic gold medalist, and first woman to headline a professional fight card, Claressa Shields fight live in Detroit – joke’s on you if you thought I’d get through one whole assignment without mentioning her or the fact I’m going to that fight (See picture of the queen below this paragraph)). However, I need to begin scheduling my interviews for the podcast. I’ve already talked to my three teammates I will interview and they’ve agreed to be a part of my project, but the next step is scheduling these interviews and eventually editing them into a hopefully relevant and entertaining podcast.
I am actually planning on reading two novels over spring break while on the beach written by my patronus, Carrie Fisher. I’ve just placed them in my suitcase. I think that even though her novels are not genre or content based models, I personally learn a lot from her style of narration and how strong her voice is in her writing. She is the image of charisma in my opinion. I want to use these novels to help me think about the narration styles I want to use via podcast. I want my voice to come through as well as the voices of my interviewees. I want to talk openly and maybe too honestly. I think, like Carrie Fisher’s novels, this feeling of earning the absolute disclosure of details will make the podcast feel relatable even if listeners have no experience in the sport of boxing. My biggest goal is for the podcast to be three things: real, relatable, and entertaining.