What does it take to be a female boxer?

This week saw Katie Taylor win the Olympic Gold Medal for Ireland in the lightweight division of female boxing. The papers have been full of praise for her success and achievement. There is no doubt that she excels in this sport and has won Irish, European and World championships prior to her Olympic success. She has the support of the crowds and has been described as displaying a genuine affection for her opponent when she makes peace with them after the fight and as the athlete you would most like to go the pub with. In other words, according to the journalists she comes across as someone warm, who can relate to people and not some cold, hard, closed off woman who is using boxing to vent her spleen. 

But I ask the question, what does it take to be a female boxer? because it seems like a paradox to me, to have genuine care and affection for another, whilst at the same time, deliberately punch them physically in the head or the body? How is that possible? In coffee room conversations this week, I’ve heard people praise her skill and her talent for boxing, yet in the same breath say they do not agree with female boxing. Even the article in the Guardian states “I think this is a great day for women’s boxing, which all right-minded thinking people claimed to feel queasy about, without ever having watched.” An interesting sentence – that right-minded people would feel queasy about boxing – until they watched it, and then what? they would be converted to the wrong-thinking group and support it??? 

I don’t feel queasy about female boxing – but for me now it totally goes against the grain of what it is to be a true woman. I can however, relate to it as I use to attend a gym and do ‘boxing’ sessions with a trainer where I hit the pads he was holding and moving whilst calling out the different moves. I knew my hook from my jab and I could throw a good punch! So beware! 🙂 It was a tough form of exercise, that at the time, I thought was great, that it was a good way to let off steam, to punch out my anger and frustration or just to have a good workout. The sweat pouring off me and my cherry red face testimony to my efforts in exercising and punching as hard as I could muster. Of course I thought I was looking after my body in doing this, building strength, tone, definition and fitness, giving my heart and lungs as well as my muscles a good workout. 

However, I have come to realise through the courses and workshops of Universal Medicine, that many of the things that we assume or take for granted as being good for us, and which society at large believe are good for us, are not in fact good for us at all, once understood energetically and with respect to our true nature. Punching with anger does not release anger – but simply magnifies it in the body. Every force has an equal and opposite force, so as we punch out, that same force is coming back into the body….so boxing, pillow bashing etc is perhaps not so clever afterall. So why do we not realise this? why do we think that it’s ok to train hard and push our bodies? Why do we think it’s ok for people to box/hit/punch each other in the name of sport? Why do we think its ok for a woman to punch and box another woman – not just ok, but to actually support it, commend it, praise it, fund it, celebrate it?? 

Yet deep inside, we know this is not right, we know it is not the true way for a woman to be; hence the coffee room conversations, the so called queasiness of ‘right thinking’ people. It is an unfolding journey for me to discover and uncover just how lost I have been to my own true nature as a woman, to acknowledge and realise how hard I had become, deliberately so. To understand how in that hardness, I thought it was good to push my body hard in training (the no pain, no gain school), to partake in behaviours that were not truly nurturing or caring of my body. To feel the resistance I had and still have to fully embracing a more caring and loving relationship with my body – in the determination that I would not become some weak and feeble female. I now understand how and why I developed that hard way of being and living, how the childhood hurts and events led me to building a fortress to keep others out and to keep me from feeling what I didn’t want to feel. I have used all sorts of tools to stop me from feeling or recognising what I’m feeling – alcohol, work, sport, food etc have all had a part to play in keeping me numb and hard. Whilst that is specific to me, there is usually some form of that story for each of us, as it is part of the human condition – just with our own individual flavourings and colourings along the way. At some level we all grow up ignoring, forgetting, losing touch with our true essence, and in that lostness we take on all sorts of behaviours and ideals about who we are that are based on a false story and not the truth of who we are. In that way, we can become a female boxer, we can fight and push our bodies hard, apparently oblivious to the harm we are doing and the fact that we are depriving the body of that which it truly craves – gentle touch, tenderness, care and love. I notice that Katie started training in boxing when she was just 12 years of age – before she deveoped as a teenager and young woman. I understand that for her it feels normal, just as drinking use to feel normal for me. However, I now know it was far from normal and was instead very harming for my body and health and in the same way so is aggressive exercise. We can instead develop a way to exercise that is gentle and that honours the body, yet can still build strength and fitness. 

Our true nature is pure love, is tender and gentle in every way. If we are connected to that true nature, there is no way that we could deliberately choose to box or punch, both because of the hurt it would cause us and also because we could not possibly hurt another in that way, knowing that they too are that love. Are there exceptions to this? What if someone attacked me? Well I don’t know how I would actually respond until that happened but I imagine  if someone attacked me,  I would most likely defend myself in some way for in that moment they are not being love and it would not be self-loving to allow them to attack me. However, that is different to choosing to deliberately box/punch someone in the name of sport or where one’s wellbeing is not under threat. 

For me, this is an unfolding journey from hardness to gentleness in many areas of my life, from taking on ‘doing it like or better than a man’ with bells on towards being a true woman who honours her body, her fragility and her beauty. This does not happen overnight! Years of engrained behaviours are gradually getting eroded away as I choose to be more gentle in small ways and catch myself when I go hard and push myself in the old ways. They are all works in progress and will continue to be so. There is still a part of me that wants to hold on to that tough independent streak and for whom the word fragile conjures up the ‘weak and feeble’ rather than the true strength and beauty of a woman who is able to truly honour what she is feeling and allowing that to be. 

It is perhaps easy in the glow of the Olympics for people to celebrate the winning of a gold medal. But at what price does this gold medal come? The body may appear to withstand the rigours of tough training and punches now, but what are the long term consequences of this sport on the physical body and the brain in particular? The brain is like a jelly in a hard box and you can imagine what happens to a jelly when the box is shaken hard from side to side. Fact is boxing causes injury to the brain – 90% of boxers sustain brain injury according to the American Association of Neurological Surgeons (and probably the other 10% do as well but just not detected yet – personal opinion). It is estimated that a direct boxing blow to the head is like being hit with a padded 12lb wooden mallet travelling at 20mph! Those injuries may be unnoticeable now but over time can lead to devastating consequences of chronic traumatic brain injury and punch-drunk syndrome.  So how loving and caring is it to willingly subject one’s brain to repeated injury like that? Surely it is obvious that there is no love in it whatsoever. 

In N.Ireland it was announced this week that 3 million would be put into supporting boxing clubs in this country in the belief that this helps young boys (and now girls) develop a focus, a life away from crime and hooliganism in tough inner city areas. But is this really the answer to those dilemmas? Is putting money into a sport that pits man against man or woman against woman really the direction we want to go in as a society? Three million to keep people hard, three million to keep people fighting each other, three million to keep people in separation and away from knowing who they are? Is that really an investment? When will we begin to listen to that inner voice, that knows that this is not right, that knows it is not caring or loving and begin to choose otherwise and develop programmes that teach the young how to truly care for themselves, to honour what they are feeling and not bury it in the hardness that is required to be a boxer? 

Feel free to share your thoughts/feelings/comments on female boxing or boxing in general or anything else that this post raised for you. 


  • Reply
    Dragana Brown
    12th August 2012 at 7:51 am

    I love this one sentence in particular: “An interesting sentence – that right-minded people would feel queasy about boxing – until they watched it, and then what? they would be converted to the wrong-thinking group and support it??? ”
    This line should be taken up and used by stand-up comics! I could not stop the titter but the ironic thing is in spite of the beautiful, comical way in which it was expressed, the core of the content borders on tragedy! Even if we take gentleness out of equation, and even if all the energetic principles which Eunice had so potently laid down went out of the window, we are left with two women (or men) bashing each others heads, deliberately looking for openings to the most vulnerable parts of the body, mainly where it would hurt the most – this in today’s society is categorised as a ‘Sport’. So when all pubs and clubs shut at night and all the drunks are disorderly and thumping each other, why do we take them to the police station and fine them for being ‘disorderly’ and causing grievous harms? Couldn’t they in their modest defence claim that they were just enjoying the sport of boxing?
    I saw another article involving a young woman who was trying to lift something like 120kg of weights in the Olympic competition and she couldn’t do it, so collapsed. I’d be curious to pose a question to her. Was she preparing for some annual shopping spree where she had to carry all 120kgs shopping in two hands in one go??? Who on earth needs to lift that weight? What for?
    How long ago in our evolution did we so deeply burry common-sense that we have completely forgotten where we buried it?

    • Reply
      Rebecca Baldwin
      12th August 2012 at 9:33 am

      Eunice great article and had to be said. Dragana — I laughed out loud reading your comment — it is so tragic and absurd and you highlight this effortlessly with humour. You ladies rock.

  • Reply
    Beverley Brown
    12th August 2012 at 10:24 am

    What a great point to raise Eunice. I’ve always felt boxing to be a crazy thing to do as punching someone around the head until they fall over is quite an odd past time. In an age where there is already too much violence and anger on the streets it really does not seem sensible to promote this for youngsters,and give it funding, all in the name “sport”. I ask myself, “how will this encourage young people to care for one another and therefore care about each other on the street?” Does it not have the potential to show them new techniques of how to hurt each other more? Now that is a crazy concept that certainly seems to lack common sense!!!

  • Reply
    Alison Moir
    12th August 2012 at 10:27 am

    Another great article Eunice it needs to be said there is so much praise for the Olympics at the moment but at what cost to the people pushing themselves to achieve a medal.
    it has reminded me of how hard I have been on my body. Mine was not boxing but horse riding.
    We have won medals at the Olympics in all 3 riding events which is un-heard of, yet something that seems so innocent as sitting on a horse can do untold harm to the body. I have before now struggled into a doctor’s surgery almost on my knees where I was unable to walk due to falling off a horse. I too have had to harden, to keep going when my body was screaming at me to stop, but looking after the horse came first.
    If I hurt myself now I stop and look at what I have been doing that has caused me to hurt myself. In my riding days it was seen as an in-convenience, that was stopping me from riding from getting on with ‘it’.

    How numb must a person be….
    to hit/punch another person
    to accept being hit/punch by another person

    I know how numb I was to accept the injuries of horse riding, yet the continual blows to the body from boxing you have got to be desperate.

    Muhammed Ali is living proof of what boxing can do to a person, …I use living tentatively as he is barely able to do anything for himself these day. He has smashed his body so much his body is now ravaged with parkinson’s disease.

    If it were not for Universal Medicine showing me how fragile my body really is and that to be a woman is to honour that fragility and embrace it, I too would be on the road to sickness and ill health.

    Loved your piece Dragana….where do we stop, at what stage do we say I am a woman do I really need to lift 120KG , maybe it is when we stop trying to be better than a man, trying to beat them at their own game.

  • Reply
    sarah cloutier
    12th August 2012 at 11:56 am

    Eunice – I LOVE this comment – “This does not happen overnight! Years of engrained behaviours are gradually getting eroded away as I choose to be more gentle in small ways and catch myself when I go hard and push myself in the old ways. They are all works in progress and will continue to be so. There is still a part of me that wants to hold on to that tough independent streak and for whom the word fragile conjures up the ‘weak and feeble’ rather than the true strength and beauty of a woman who is able to truly honour what she is feeling and allowing that to be.”

    Truly beautifully expressed and very much an every day experience for me – thanks so much for your expression of love – Sarah

  • Reply
    Jane Keep
    12th August 2012 at 12:07 pm

    On Competitive sports there is much to ponder, great blog, Thank you Eunice, Alison and Dragana, Beverley, such great points to ponder on. I too have observed the excitement with the olympics and particularly the women including the young Leeds female boxer, the equestrian sports, and so on, and how the media is not only celebrating them, but celebrating their bodies too (the gangly muscly bodies), and in the UK David Cameron has also announced millions of pounds of funding into all of our schools to make it compulsory for children to partake in competitive sports. This feels tragic, and when I feel my own young nephews, and the other children who come to the Universal Medicine events such as True Movement, let alone the many children i see every day I cant imagine what that will do for the innocence, playfulness and gentleness that many of them still have and are – as it would call for them to harden immensely to partake in something that is now compulsory. For myself I didnt like sports at school and used to make excuses not to partake, and when I did I was very clumsy and often cried. As an adult in a particularly hard time in my life to protect myself from the world I took up kick boxing and became a black belt kick boxer – I would fight in competitions with 6ft + men, and at the time I was a director in a hospital and would turn up with cut lips, bruises, and broken toes. When I feel that period in my life now I can only feel sadness of the way I was with my body, and sadness at willingly wanting to kick another person. What I feel is also sad is that the world particularly with the olympics is not enabling those who feel tender, gentle, or self kind to feel valued, and for them to feel abnormal if they dont harden to do sport/love the olympics etc. it is for us all who have found our own tenderness, delicateness, gentleness (and are unfolding with this on a daily basis, learning more all the time) to share with others that there is a choice, and, that we can in humanity honour the fragility, tenderness and grace of women, and, of men too.

  • Reply
    doug valentine
    12th August 2012 at 12:28 pm

    Thank you for this piece Eunice, I have been feeling that something needs to be said about the subject and you summed it up beautifully. I feel very uneasy about the “progress” of sports women across the entire range of sports. It seems as though they have taken on male energy to achieve results previously undreamt of, but in doing so are they not losing the nurturing and loving essence of what a woman is? And if women lose that essence, where does that leave the world?

  • Reply
    Priscila Azeredo de Souza
    12th August 2012 at 1:45 pm

    Awesome post Eunice. I was never good at sports… however I became ‘good’ and successful in lots of other things and I can relate myself to your comment about “doing it like or better than a men”.

    Being a true woman is something I am just starting to understand and allow myself to feel (a huge thank you to Universal Medicine on this, particularly the beautiful modalities brought for women – Esoteric Women’s Health – which are truly supportive)

    However I can honestly say that all the efforts I put into becoming, achieving, trying to be the super woman only took me away from the true woman inside me.

    With Love,

  • Reply
    12th August 2012 at 3:06 pm

    Hi Eunice, yet another awesome piece of writing about the everyday things that we are experiencing. I love the way you write, with a clarity that helps make the energetic ‘mystery’ (because we can’t see it) so matter of fact and obvious. Thank you.

    • Reply
      The Soulful Doctor
      12th August 2012 at 11:12 pm

      thanks for all your comments on this post. It is a very topical issue with the Olympics and David Cameron going to make competitive sport compulsory for all children – I feel another blog coming on!! 

  • Reply
    13th August 2012 at 1:32 am

    I felt that.

    When you wrote – in that way, we become a female boxer – I just sobbed and sobbed because I have done that, and in some ways continue to do it, just with much more awareness and more love these days.

    I felt myself going from listening, reading, in my head, yep, yep, not good for the female boxer etc….keeping it outside of me, then I realise that I was also that woman, and such sadness came with that realisation.

    Thank you for writing so clearly and exposingly, it provided a good clearing for me sitting at my table in far north queensland.

    With much love and gratitude,

  • Reply
    Jonathan Stewart
    13th August 2012 at 8:44 am

    A great piece of writing with lovely clarity. Thank you also for sharing and exposing yourself, it is so inspiring. Thank you Eunice.

  • Reply
    13th August 2012 at 9:26 am

    Dear Eunice thank you for your beautiful observed and written article. I feel a dismay in witnessing a fellow human being beating another, a fellow human being volunteering to put themselves in a position to be beaten up, many fellow beings witnessing this & not deeming it as wrong, but celebrating it. But the real sadness I feel is deeper than that. The tragedy I see is the complete separation from each another – that an individual is happy to trample another, win over them and hurt them, in any shape whatsoever, then feel pleased with themselves for doing so. The boxing just takes it a step further & the physical form plays it out and we can’t help but SEE IT (and some of us choose to not see it even then), but the fact is that this is happening in one shape or form all over the place. This way of being is celebrated in sports, in industry, in education – one-up-man-ship is seen to be the norm, hurting a fellow human being is actually deemed clever and is celebrated! Most of us have forgotten our natural essence- harmony with others, tenderness with ourself & a sense that we matter. This – underneath it all – is what really hurts.

  • Reply
    Ariana Ray
    16th August 2012 at 8:57 am

    BEWARE low flying bricks!!!

    If ‘every force has an equal and opposite force’, (which sounds like something Einstein would have said), then I must conclude that – everything I do, that is all my actions, everything I say, all my conversations that are purposeful or not and all my thoughts, no matter what they are – have an equal and opposite force coming back at me. That makes me feel that I’m going to make my actions and thoughts gentle. If these puppies are coming back at me I’m going to make sure what goes out is what I want coming back.

    I’m certainly not going to take up boxing!

    The old adage- treat others as we want to be treated. But, and this is a big BUT – everyone thinks that what they think in the privacy of their own mind stays there. No one says – be careful what you think as thoughts are as tangible and solid as bricks AND what you think will come back at you. That’s a whole other ball game! BEWARE low flying bricks!!!

  • Reply
    Julie Goodhart
    17th August 2012 at 4:18 am

    The fact that our society glorifies women hitting women is disheartening, as are many other things that are not love and not truth in the world. I used to feel very sad when I’d hear these kinds of stories (and truth be told, there is still some part of me that feels it even now). But mostly lately I’ve come to see how there is a bigger plan at work here. And to trust – not blindly, not the putting-my-head-in-the-sand-and-hope-for-the-best kind of trust – but to really feel and know deep within myself that these women and men will one day find love and truth for themselves, as we all are, and will heal whatever hurts have led them to abuse their bodies and to hurt others in this way. In the meantime, it really is sick that acts of abuse of this nature are being condoned and that young girls are being encouraged to follow this path.

  • Reply
    Stephanie Pommerel
    23rd August 2012 at 10:06 am

    Hi there,

    Firstly I just want to thank you for publishing this article – it certainly is topical, even though the Olympics has now ended (with the Paralympics to come – but I won’t go there), the subject of sport and what it does to the body is highly relevant.

    On a personal note, I loved your comment that you are aware of resisting a deeper and more loving connection to yourself, yet your words demonstrate such an comprehensive understanding of the whole. I can feel the acceptance and love you have for yourself, allowing this to be.

    On a more general note, and the fact for which I write this post, during the Olympics here in Australia, a program called Gruen Sweat was aired over four weeks, analysing the advertising brou-haha that accompanies the Olympics. An interesting subject in itself; much of the talk was about athletes and corporations, what they respectively get out of being associated with the Olympics, when they get it wrong, how other companies get around severe restrictions for advertising, etc. In a section called ‘The Pitch’, two advertising agencies were asked to create an ad to ‘sell the unsellable’ – an ad aiming to market an unpopular idea. In this pitch:


    the two were asked to deliver an ad that might convince us that we should stop funding Australian Olympians. While much of the show was amusing for its banter and jokes, this I watched straight-faced, in complete agreement. That there are so many other areas in our society that would benefit from the excessive money that gets sunk into the Olympics were actually well addressed by both ads.

    This point is also highlighted by the ‘gold’ hungry approach of our journalists and our nation as a general whole. What does it really matter if someone wins a gold, silver, or bronze for that matter?

    As your article clearly points out, this comes at such a great expense, both to the individuals involved and to society at large.

    Once again, thank you.

    With love,

  • Reply
    10th October 2012 at 6:15 pm

    Many of the comments I have read in response to this article (from lazy, un-sporty people) really annoy me. Firstly, get your facts right before commenting on a sport you are clearly completely ignorant about. Boxing in the Olympics is amateur and is thus very different to the professional boxing you see on the television, which some may see as being rather brutal. Amateur boxing is not about ‘punching someone around the head until they fall over’. Indeed, throughout my whole Amateur career (I am a four time national champion and narrowly missed out on GB selection for the Olympics)I have never witnessed a knock-out in the Amateur game. First and foremost, boxing is a great skill, it is about point scoring. It is about hitting and not getting hit. It is not about hitting as hard as you can, it is about having sublime speed, fitness and agility. It is an incredibly hard discipline to master, and the dedication required to be a successful boxer can be transferred to numerous areas of life. Boxing is about respecting your opponent. To say that to encourage sport doesn’t encourage people to ‘care’ for one another is utter rubbish. Sport is all about having respect for your opponent. You play within set rules and the competitive spirit that we gain from sport is something that should be celebrated. It is, after all, completely natural to compete. Does ‘survival of the fittest’ ring any bells?? If people didn’t have the drive, determination and perserverance you need to succeed in a hard sport, nothing great would ever be achieved. People in general nowadays are getting fatter, lazier and in both Britain and America more people are obese than ever before. We are made to move. It keeps us healthy and I feel at my best after a hard workout.I find it sad that almost nobody in this thread is proud of our incredible Olympians. How can you not admire their incredible achievements?? They represent man kind at it’s greatest, and we should all aspire to excel as they do.

    • Reply
      The Soulful Doctor
      14th October 2012 at 7:55 pm

      Thanks for your comments. Just to clarify a few things. This blog and post does not support laziness or obesity and I agree it is good to move and exercise. I also agree that it takes alot of hard work, determination, training, motivation, discipline etc to compete at the highest level of sport. I completely understand why you say what you do and realise that what is posted in this blog is contra to how people normally consider sporting prowess. As humans we do tend to marvel at what the human body can do and many people endeavour to push it to the limit. 

      However, this blog and post is coming from a very different starting point and understanding of the human person…..an understanding that knows the essence of the human person is love.  So whilst we may think it is natural for us to compete and be competitive, what if that is actually not true?? What if it is actually our true nature to co-operate rather than to compete? What if competition only appears to be natural because we are in fact so disconnected from what our true nature is? Thus these posts are based on how to live, work, eat, exercise based on what is truly loving and not loving for the body. For me personally it does not feel loving to hit another person or to engage in combat, even as a sport, with another person. Does it feel loving to you to be hit or to hit another? Maybe it does and maybe it doesn’t – either way, these posts are based on what is loving and what is not loving – simple as. As humans we do a lot of things that we think are loving – but when truly felt from the body, a body that responds to gentleness, tenderness, harmony,  deep care and love, we find that perhaps they are not so loving afterall. What is propsed here is that there is a way to live that means we can feel amazing without a hard workout, that does not need any medals or distinctions to feel better about itself for it already is glorious. 

  • Reply
    12th January 2014 at 11:56 pm

    Why are you so against boxing if people want to get hit and hit others let them do that, this is not the only sport that is aggressive and physical have you heard of football and the damages those players endure also soccer the world is changing especially for women so stop your unnecessary complaining and get use to changes ;people are to use to the way things are for women they do not just want to have children or cook in the kitchen let people be free no one is telling you how to be or act

  • Reply
    Tabitha W
    29th March 2015 at 7:13 pm

    There’s a cruel logic about what happens in the boxing ring, and it applies to women fighters as much as to men. When your opponent is in difficulty, you try to punish her as much as possible in order to knock her out or oblige the referee to stop the contest. That’s the brutal reality of professional boxing, and yet lots of women are attracted to the fight game as participants or spectators. It’s worth distinguishing between amateur boxing and the professional code: the amateurs fight shorter contests and wear head-guards, but there are no such protective measures for professionals. I realize it may be shocking to see two women bleeding from facial wounds as a pro fight unfolds, but the shorter rounds (women generally fight 2-minute rounds rather than 3-) often provide non-stop action and reflect tremendous credit on the women’s fitness and preparation.

  • Reply
    4th April 2017 at 6:36 am

    In regards to all skill sets and pass times: there is a right way and a wrong way to do it. Sports, for many, are taken as art forms and are not practiced merely to improve ones ability to complete daily, practical tasks, but as a way to push the boundaries of the body and mind, to see how finely a skill can be developed. I’m sure many (if not most women, at least at the amateur and professional levels) are boxing as a way to fine tune their strength, reflexes and confidence, and not streaming with hatred and anger.

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