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International Women's Boxing Hall of Fame inducts historic first class

The IWBHF announces its inaugural class of inductees, all greats from the growing sport of women's boxing, including Christy Martin and Lucia Rijker.

Feng Li

Women's boxing has had a difficult road. Though there were female boxers in the early 1900s, the practice was widely banned until experiencing its rebirth in Sweden in 1988--somewhat ironically, considering that Sweden was among several other European countries that banned professional boxing from 1970 until 2006. The popularity of female fisticuffs grew in the 90s with the rise of such stars as Christy Martin (49-7-3, 31 KO) and Lucia Rijker (17-0, 14 KO). In 2014, women boxed competitively in the Olympics for the first time, cementing female athletes as a fixture of the boxing world.

And yet, there is very little official recognition for the great figures of the sport. As of today, the World Boxing Hall of Fame (WBHF), the lesser-known of the two major boxing halls of fame, has only one female inductee: the aforementioned Lucia Rijker. That organization's bigger, more respected brother, the International Boxing Hall of Fame (IBHoF), has none.

Cue the IWBHF, the first ever organization dedicated solely to the commemoration of women's acccomplishments in prizefighting. The Women Boxing Archive Network reports that the IWBHF just released the list of their inaugural class. The inductees are as follows:

Barbara Buttrick (30-1-1) (unverified)

Bonnie Canino (11-4, 5 KO)

Christy Martin (49-7-3, 31 KO)

Regina Halmich (54-1-1, 16 KO)

Christy Halbert (unknown)

Lucia Rijker (17-0, 14 KO)

Jo-Ann Hagen (unknown) (posthumous)

The list consists, of course, entirely of important figures in the history of women's boxing, but a few of the inductees stand out. Barbara Buttrick was one of the earliest figures of organized women's boxing: she was world flyweight and bantamweight champion from 1950 to 1960. Also included is Jo-Ann Hagen, whose record is very difficult to suss out, but who was the only boxer ever to defeat Buttrick.

Christy Halbert's record is unverified--she reportedly got into boxing as part of a thesis study and retired after just a few professional bouts--but she was one of the key figures responsible for women's boxing becoming an Olympic sport in 2012, 108 years after the first ever female exhibition Olympic bout took place.

As women's boxing grows in popularity, one would hope that organizations like the IBHoF will start to take notice of the great female fighters throughout the history of the sport, but until then it's nice to see the IWBHF stepping up to the task.

However, for their sake, they'd better let Ann Wolfe in next year.

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