A Boxing Great: Anja StridsmanMay 19, 2018
In Australia, female boxers have long struggled to gain acceptance as boxing clubs used to be a male-dominated territory. But this is now changing with the rise of professional female fighters who promote the physical and mental strength it takes to go into boxing training. The new generation of female athletes is taking away the old-fashioned assumption that women only see boxing as a way of self-defence or another fitness activity by competing on a high level in this sport. As boxing was long promoted by male stereotypes only, the opposite gender did not get the chance to find out about the commitment it takes to learn the physically challenging hand-eye coordination required.
Boxing long embodied absolute masculinity and was the last male-dominated sport on the Olympic programme. Even football was turned into a female discipline before, hence it was difficult for women to find a boxing club where they could train and enhance their skills. Nowadays men and women often become sparring partners and the gym is turning into a gender-neutral zone where the collective training is all about skilfully outsmarting the opponent.
Thanks to professional boxer Anja Stridsman, who won the gold medal in the 60kg division at the Commonwealth Games this year, and her fellow female boxers, more and more women are now falling for combat sports. In this country, these professional female boxers are now paving the way for future athletes in the ring, an environment that men had exclusively kept to themselves for decades, and prove that women are neither weak, vulnerable nor less competitive than men as always assumed because of their bodies being smaller and lighter on average.
The reason why female boxing did not become popular earlier could be due to the fact that most women are taking to the sport later than average, most of the registered female athletes in Australia are in their thirties which is quite late for a professional sports career and way beyond the estimated fittest age between 14 and 27. Therefore, women were not really visible and accounted for being athletes in mixed martial arts before and it was only in 2012 when female boxing matches were introduced into the Olympic Games.
Swedish born 31-year-old Anja Stridsman came to Australia at the age of 19 to study and took to boxing at the age of 23. She says she started boxing after she got tired of playing football in the rain and the boxing club was conveniently near to her work and the sport a nice way to keep fit. The competitive athlete made it to the top in only eight years when she won the national championship in Sydney in 2017. Stridsman showed her incredible determination and fighting will once more when she trained for the Commonwealth Games that were held on the Gold Coast this April 2018. The professional boxer suffered a severe knee injury when she tore her anterior cruciate ligament when fighting in Poland two months before the games and continued training despite her barely being able to walk.
Thanks to surgery she received an Achilles tendon from a donor and showed undefeatable spirit when she won the gold medal after a courageous display against opponent Paige Murney from England in a unanimous 5-0 decision in a great performance. Thanks to her coach Joela Keegan and national coaches Kevin Smith and Shara Romer Anja Stridsman is the second Australian boxer to win gold at the Commonwealth Games. The athlete works as a graphic designer and will take part in the world championship in Delhi later this year.