April 4, 2010 at 3:36 pm by Michael Rivest
Link to article: http://blog.timesunion.com/boxing/date/2010/04/page/4/
2000 Empire State Games Gold Medalist
2000 National Golden Gloves Champion
2001 Light Middleweight US National Champion
2001 Team USA, First-ever World Championships
2002 Light Welter Weight US National Champion
2002 Caption, Team USA World Championships
2004 New York Golden Gloves Champion
2004 Bronze Medalist US Nationals
2004 National Police Athletic League Champion
2004 Ringside World Champion
2004 National Golden Gloves Champion
2004 WBAN November Fighter of the Month
2005 New York Golden Gloves Champion
2005 National Police Athletic League Champion
2005 National Golden Gloves Champion
2006 Empire State Games Gold Medalist
2006 Silver Medalist US Nationals
2007 New York Golden Gloves Champion
2009 Manager, Team USA Women’s Continentals
2006- Present: Chair, USA Boxing Athlete Advisory Council
Sometimes, you just have to get a person’s list of accomplishments out of the way all at once. Such is the case with Angel Bovee. You could go crazy trying to weave a prodigious list like that into the narrative of your story. Besides, Bovee has more important things to talk about than history.
Angel is an advocate for women’s boxing – always has been. “When I started training, I did it with the Olympic Games in mind. Of course, I knew women boxers weren’t included in the Olympics, but there was hope for a quick end to the problem.”
2001 Team USA (Bovee is back row, last on right)
“By 2002 we (USA) had all the requirements to have women get admitted,” she said. Before a sport can be considered for inclusion by the International Olympic Committee (IOC), it must meet certain criteria, such as it has to be practiced by a certain number of countries, it has to have a certain number of world championships, things like that.
Since 2004, boxing had been the only summer Olympic sport to not include women. Even wrestling (added in 2004), Judo, Taekwondo did. The absence was all the more glaring since women’s amateur boxing had the affiliation of 120 countries worldwide, three times the required number.
“But it was rejected in 2004 and then again in 2008,” Angel said. Although the IOC voted to include women’s boxing in the 2012 London Olympics when they met last August, it was with serious and startling limitations. “The victory was bittersweet,” she said. “Only three weight divisions were admitted.”
“I used to have more patience about these things, but I find myself getting angry now. It’s like Post-Traumatic Stress Syndrome,” she joked, but she was sadly a little serious, too. You bang your head against the wall of prejudice long enough and it takes its toll.
The three weight division decision means the 36 women who will compete in London (compared to 246 men) will have to cram into three weight classes: flyweight (106 to 112 pounds), lightweight (123 to 132 pounds), or middleweight (52 to 165 pounds). No other Olympic combat sport has so few weight divisions.
So if you’re a woman and your fighting weight falls in the gaps, you’re out of luck. Unless, or course, you want to gain or lose a whole lot of weight you really shouldn’t. It remains to be seen what USA greats Marlen Esparza and Melissa Roberts (there are more) will do. They, and so many others, will either have to quit or fight at weights unnatural to them.
“We have our foot in the door,” said Bovee, “and it’s my hope that USA Boxing and the other governing bodies will fight for more weight divisions so eventually we will have equitable representation.”
An added frustration for Bovee is people’s reactions to the fact that in order to honor the cap on the number of participating athletes, the three approved weight divisions were not added to the men’s 11, but instead taken from them.
This has caused bad feelings for some folks – male boxers in particular might object because, hey, “now we lose our right to go,” they may reason. “But this doesn’t really reflect an accurate understanding,” Bovee notes, “and for a couple of reasons. There has never been a commitment to 11 weight divisions. There have been as few as five in the history of men’s boxing,” but more importantly, she continued, “other Olympic sports have always shared male/female slots. It’s only boxing that has historically given them all to men for such a long period of time.”
“The three divisions are not being taken from men, as much as what’s being introduced is the same sharing that’s been the case in other Olympic sports for quite some time.”
It’s necessary to note here that Angel Bovee’s frustration is made all the more persuasive by the fact that she is by personality a quiet, gentle person who exudes a live-and-let-live outlook on just about everything. USA Boxing referee Paul Brown captures the sentiment of many when he referred to her as ”one of nicest people I have met in the sport.”
She has has simply grown weary of the fighting the same unfair opponent.
“I suppose I’m most disappointed with the way our own country has handled it,” she said. “Women just aren’t on USA Boxing’s radar.”
“Granted, USA Boxing has lots of problems right now,” Bovee noted, referring to the many fiscal issues with which the organization’s been contending, and the fact that it’s suffered a musical chairs leadership over the past decade.
“I actually believe women’s involvement could save amateur boxing,” Bovee said. “It would engage an entirely new audience,” people who are now utterly disinterested in the sport.
But there are other reasons she feels women’s boxing is perhaps the answer to amateur boxing’s woes. The 37-year-old Bovee’s been doing some interesting research in this area. Her master’s thesis, part of her work toward an M.S. in Recreation Management (SUNY-Cortland) is on the constraints elite level female boxers face in this country.
“It’s quite self-evident, really, but I’ve found that the more constraints you have to face, the higher motivational factors become.” As applied here, for male boxers to get to the Olympics, they have to be driven beyond all imagining, but for women to get there, they have be ready to burst into flames. That type of fire will inevitably translate into exciting – no, thrilling fights – that are bound to get fan attention and, more importantly, new fan attention.
“Lots of people offer the argument that there are now only 3,000 registered women amateur boxers in the US, compared to 27,000 men, and that’s why less attention goes to the women,” Bovee notes, “but you have to ask yourself the extent to which numbers like these are influenced by subtle discrimination at the local level.”
“For instance, there could be 10,000 young women who walked into a boxing gym last year, but if 9,500 walked back out, the real question is why?”
These are things that trouble Angel Bovee nowadays and they are the things she will continue to study in her post-boxing life. After finishing her master’s degree, she plans to get a doctorate and teach on the college level.
Angel Bovee’s accomplishments in the ring are listed up top. Her accomplishments outside the ring are only beginning.
The fighting goes on.