There’s a revamped scoring system in amateur boxing that rewards fighters for throwing more punches, landing more combinations and doing battle more often along the ropes – exactly what Caroline Barry needs in a final push for a long-awaited Olympic berth.
|Caroline Barry is in the|
World Class Athlete Program
The Fort Carson soldier believes she’ll finally benefit from an aggressive approach over a reactionary mentality as she attempts to secure a spot in the 2012 London Games, where women boxers make their Olympic debut after years of complaints of inequality.
A new code of points instituted by the International Boxing Association in January places an increased emphasis on offense as opposed to the counter punching that watered down the computerized system, which has been in place since 1992 and came under fire amid accusations that judges were picking their favorite fighters at the 2008 Beijing Games.
Gone is the one-second window for three of five judges to press a button on a keypad for a punch to count, and also bagged are the ringside video monitors that displayed real-time scores. Now, a mathematical formula determines the average score for each boxer during three rounds of three minutes apiece, and scores are displayed only between periods.
The primary goal is to encourage fighters to remain active by inducing contact instead of delivering a punch, then dancing around the ring and playing defense. Chances are series of punches also are more likely to be recorded because judges no longer are restricted by a time cap to tally their scores. And body shots that are sometimes missed in the corners should carry added value since a minimum number of judges to buzz has been abolished.
Software for the revised system is being tested by Colorado Springs-based USA Boxing, and the system will be used for the national championships in June in the Springs that serve as a qualifier for women’s box-offs next year to set the lineup for the 2012 U.S. Olympic trials. The system also will be used at the women’s world championships that’s an Olympic qualifier next May in Chongqing, China, and plans are to have it in London.
For Barry, a 30-year-old in the World Class Athlete Program that readies the military for the Olympics, the current system handcuffed her last month in an 8-5 loss against Queen Underwood in a 132-pound box-off for a Pan American Games qualifier. She argued that Underwood, the leading contender for London at 132, was “almost rewarded for sitting back and not making action happen, and that’s really hard. I like to box for a reason.”
With the new system, boxers “can’t just run,” said Barry, who owns 10 titles at nationals, the National Police Athletic League tournament and the Women’s Golden Gloves and has twice made worlds. “Even though you’re up, you have to hit. You have to keep boxing.”
Like Olympic Training Center residents, Barry participates in strength and conditioning sessions at the OTC, and she also utilizes sports medicine staffers, a sports psychologist and a nutritionist on the Springs complex and participates in visual training at Air Force. And she has lots of time for practice, not worried by jobs in massage therapy and athletic training during a brief retirement before women’s boxing joined the Olympics in 2009.
Barry admittedly has evolved into “more of an aggressive boxer” in six years under Fort Carson coach Basheer Abdullah. “I’m more balanced in my approach as far as being the aggressor,” she said. “The biggest thing is being able to be aggressive off defense, which really is a complete fighter. It’s what you have to be in order to be competitive.”
Is the aggression a no-doubt bet? Is it guaranteed to translate into wins? “If I’m punching first,” Barry said. “I have to be the first person to punch. I have to initiate the action.”