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2012 Summer Olympics: Three Classes Not Enough for Women’s Boxing

When the International Olympic Committee approved women’s boxing for the 2012 London Olympics a few years ago, I never realized that its inclusion would exclude so many talented athletes.
It’s a weighty subject.

Andrecia Wasson has one last opportunity to qualify
for the U.S. Olympic trials, at the National PALBoxing Championships
 in October in Toledo. Last year, she was the best female boxer
in the world at 152 pounds.
RASHAUN RUCKER/Detroit Free Press

Unlike the men — who, by the way, shouldn’t have had to reduce their field (to 250) and weight classes (from 11 to 10) to make room for the 36 female boxers who will make up the inaugural Olympic class — the women’s competition has been left with fewer opportunities to achieve success on the sport’s biggest stage.

There are only three weight divisions being contested for women at the London Games; it’s akin to trying to squeeze into one of three clothing sizes — small, medium and large. The weight classes are flyweight (112 pounds), lightweight (132) and middleweight (165).

“There are a lot of boxers who have given up because they haven’t been able to fit themselves into a certain category,” said Christy Halbert, chairwoman of USA Boxing’s women’s task force. “Three weight categories is very difficult. Boxers are turning pro or dropping out. It’s not all of them, but a good chunk of them.

“When some of us have watched boxers (compete) at a different weight than what they were at, some don’t look the same. My hope is that AIBA (International Amateur Boxing Association) will continue to press for more weight categories for women after the 2012 Games.”

Time is running out for Andrecia Wasson of Center Line to make her choice. Last year, Wasson was the best female boxer in the world at 152 pounds. Last fall, she was the first U.S. female to win a world championship since 2001 when she captured the welterweight title in Barbados.

Now 19, the 5-foot-4 Wasson didn’t compete at the U.S. championships last month, so she’s down to one last opportunity to qualify for the U.S. Olympic trials at the National PAL Boxing Championships in October in Toledo.

Her mother, Kim Fletcher, said Friday she’ll be meeting with longtime boxing coach Rene Muniz of Lincoln Park to help her daughter plot out the way to go — up or down — in weight.

“My feeling is, at 165, no one can beat her,” Muniz said. “But we have only two months to get a jump on that because she’s going to be running out of time.”

Source: JO-ANN BARNAS, Detroit Free Press

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