inicio sindicaci;ón

Women Boxers In India: With This Ring

<cite>With This Ring</cite> is an independent documentary film by Ameesha Joshi and Anna Sarkissian. Since 2006, they’ve been tracking the Indian Women’s National Boxing Team, who are some of the best boxers in the world.

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Kelowna Rotarians Were Awesome

Ogopogo Sighting on Lake Okanagan in Kelowna, British Columbia

Last week I presented our film to a group of Rotarians in Kelowna, B.C. at 7:30 in the morning at their Yacht Club overlooking a misty Okanagan Lake, home of the infamous lake monster Ogopogo.

I was in Kelowna, B.C. visiting my parents. My step father, Paul Cleland, who is an active member of his Rotary arranged to have me as a guest speaker for their weekly meeting.

The legendary Ogopogo didn’t make an appearance but there was a great turn out from some of Kelowna’s finest citizens who were also members of the Rotary Club of Kelowna Ogopogo.

It was an honour to present to people completely outside of the film world. They were a diverse cross section of teachers, bankers, social workers, salespeople - you name it! It’s safe to say they will have a different perspective than filmmakers, not to mention there are way more of them than us, which is why it’s so valuable to get their reaction.

Across the board everyone was shocked that India had women boxers and even more surprised they were some of the best in the world. They were intrigued by the lives of these women who chance everything to pursue the sport, and much to my delight were quite anxious to see the film.

They were such a warm and welcoming audience and their feedback was very encouraging.

Thank you to all the lovely Rotarians in Kelowna!

Category : Blogroll

Women’s Boxing is in the Olympics!

Don’t be surprised if you see some of these faces at the London games in 2012.

It’s official and it’s about time.

On Aug 13, the International Olympic Committee finally approved women’s boxing as an Olympic sport. Up until then, amateur boxing was the only sport in the Summer Olympics that did not include women. For the first time in history men and women will be represented in all 26 sport categories.

There are approximately 500,000 licensed female boxers across 120 countries so you can imagine the number of women boxers gearing up at their chance to compete for the gold. Having witnessed the caliber of boxing talent at the last two world women championships this upcoming Olympics will prove to everyone how much they deserve to be there.

It was decided that 12 women boxers will be competing in the three following weight divisions: flyweight (48kg-51kg), lightweight (56kg-60kg) and middleweight (69kg-75kg).

The recent addition of women required removing one of the men’s weight categories because the IOC set a quota of 286 boxers at the upcoming Games in London. The men will have 10 weight categories (instead of 11) and a total of 250 boxers compared to the women who will have 36 boxers competing in 3 weight categories.

This is bad news for all the women in the excluded weight categories who won’t get their chance at the Olympics. In this article American boxing coach Ann Wolfe said: “You might have the best boxer in the world at 140 pounds, and she won’t make it because of her weight….I’d rather (the IOC) leave us out altogether than do it this way.”

Despite being a huge step in the right direction, the significant discrepancy between the number of men and women competitors proves the sport is not even close to being equal to both genders.

Boxing first appeared in the Olympics in 1904, so why has it taken this long for women to be included? It depends who you ask. The IOC rejected women’s boxing in the 2008 Olympics “over concerns about medical safety and low participation worldwide. ” But the majority of boxers, coaches and boxing officials we interviewed during the making of the film felt it was blatant discrimination.

What surprises me are the boxers and boxing coaches who flat out disagree with the decision. If anyone should understand these women’s passion for the sport it’s them.

Take a listen to Amir Khan, a boxing champion from the U.K. give his reasons why women’s boxing shouldn’t be in the Olympics.

Then there’s Cuba, a country renowned for its boxers declaring they will not be sending a women’s team to the Olympics because the President of the Cuban Boxing Federation, Jose Barrentos, believes “the sport is inappropriate for women.”

One of Cuba’s head coaches, Pedro Roque stated: “Cuban women should be showing off their beautiful faces, not getting punched in the face.”

It is unfortunate for the women that are still being shut out of the Olympics either by the lack of support from their own country or from the misfortune of being in the wrong weight class.

The boxers in our film often told us how much it would mean to compete at the Olympics. We watched the entire team crowd around the one TV set in their non-air-conditioned hostel to watch India box at the 2008 Summer Games in Beijing. There was so much discussion around if and when they would finally get their chance.

India has one of the lowest number of Olympic medals per capita in the world and only won its first individual gold in 2008. But when someone from the country does win a medal they are hailed, splashed all over the media, famous overnight and the country bursts with pride. Vijender Kumar, the only boxer to win a medal in Beijing, was a household name in India that summer.

An Olympic medal would bring a level of publicity and recognition these women could never have imagined in their lifetime.

The Indian team have proven themselves as a force to be reckon with at international competitions and have a serious chance at winning medals for their country.

But is a medal enough? I raise the question because I only recently learned of Karnam Malleswari. Who is Karnam Malleswari? She is the first woman in Indian history to win an Olympic medal. And no, she is not a household name.

Malleswari won the bronze in weightlifting at the 2000 Summer Olympics. Her medal has not brought women’s weightlifting to the forefront of sports in India and no one we encountered during out production period even mentioned her name.

It’s safe to assume weightlifting is considered as unfit for an Indian woman as boxing and no doubt suffers the same struggles, lack of media attention and sponsorship opportunities.

I know it will take time before discrimination towards women boxers is completely eliminated. But I hope things have changed enough that the success of an Olympic medal and the remarkable talents of boxers like Mary Kom can no longer be ignored.

Category : Blogroll

Feeling hot hot hot

You could fry an egg outside right now. But on the positive side our our laundry dries super fast in the scorching sun. Its our last day in Hisar, Haryana. Tomorrow we head to the booming metropolis of Delhi.

It was only in our last few days in Hisar that we managed to get interviews that were crucial for our film. With the teams militant training regime, it leaves very little ‘off’ time in which to interview them. They train three times a day and in between their training sessions they eat, sleep and wash their clothes. Their only day off is Sunday, so we try our best to schedule an interview with them during their one day of rest.

One of our main challenges is not speaking Hindi, making it impossible to talk in depth with the boxers. So we have no choice but to try to track down an interpreter who is qualified and willing to work for free. During our last week in Hisar, we managed to find Shweta, a young woman studing Media Communication at one of the local Universities and conducted an interview with Chottu, the bronze medal world champion and Mary Kom the three time gold medal world champion.

During the interview, it’s required we turn off the fan (our only relief from the heat) and have everything quiet in order to get a clean sound recording. This definitely puts a time restraint on how long the interview can be because everyone in the room is visibly melting after 10 minutes. During the day, the temperature is often over 40 degrees Celcius. At one point we had to ask our poor interpreter to stop fanning herself with a piece of paper because of the noise it created.

But to be honest, working in conditions that are not always the easiest do end up teaching you the most. So forget about that slogan in that old deodorant commercial and I say let them see you sweat!

Category : Uncategorized

How Did This Film Get Made?

On a shoe string. But even a shoe string documentary made in India with a crew of two requires a significant amount of money, especially when you?re starting off with no money and no equipment. I decided some last minute emergency fundraising was in order before flying off to make this film and couldn?t believe the responses that I received.

The film was made entirely on donations from people I know and here they all are:

My Dad who paid the bulk of the production expenses, thank you for going out on a financial limb so I could make this film!
My family & friends: Parool Joshi, Meena Cleland, Paul Cleland, Paresh Shukla, Lee Ann Shukla,
John & Yvonne, Eric Kitchen, Yasmin & Steve, Beth & Jason, Michael Shu, Ted Byun, Olivier Marchand, Monique Marchand, Suzanne Ledoux, Danielle Ledoux, Roger Marchand, Isabelle Marchand, Guy Marchand, Andre Marchand.

And last but not least Rohan Fernando for lending me his Panasonic 24p Camera, and wireless microphone.

I am too lucky to know you all, thanks just doesn?t cut it! Vive les patrons of the arts!!!

Category : Uncategorized

Outside the ring

Ever since the Women´s International Boxing Competition in Delhi ended on November 23rd 2006, women´s boxing has completely fallen off the media´s radar. Each and every day the sports section in the Times of India is dominated with the most mundane details about cricket. People are simply obsessed with the sport and their cricket players are idolized like Bollywood stars.

The Indian Cricket team has actually performed miserably this year while the women´s boxing team was declared the championship team at the International competition, winning the highest number of medals overall of any country - even still, no one even knows India has women boxers.

The team´s members told me in November that the 7th Senior Women´s National Boxing Competition in India was going to be held from December 17th to the 21st of in Visakhapatnam. I don´t know the results because there was absolutely no mention of it in any paper or sports channel; I googled and I googled and found nothing on line.

Not only are these women boxers competing in a sport that is completely unpopular in their own country, but they´re battling many negative stereotypes entrenched in an ancient traditional society. Getting in a ring and slinging punches doesn´t rank so high on the “lady-like” scale. A common concern for their parents is injuring their faces which will decrease their chances of finding a good husband; they´re also criticized for wearing track pants, cutting their hair short (which they do because its easier to wear the head gear) and yes their sexual orientation does get questioned. It´s all part of the battle these women fight once they step outside of the ring.

Category : Uncategorized

Daily happenings

We’ve been keeping busy! Here are some recent pics…

Our equipment. ALL of our equipment. The bananas and water are essential elements of our arsenal.

A press conference at the India Habitat Centre, during which the Indian national team announced their final lineup for the competition…

Two pairs of gloves sitting pretty by the boxing ring at Nehru Stadium.

Category : Uncategorized

Visit to Nehru Stadium

Nov. 6, 2006

I stopped by Nehru Stadium in central Delhi today for the first time. The women’s boxing team is training there in the days leading up to the International Women’s Boxing Championship. Their training sessions get more intensive as the competition nears. Sweat is flying!

More news coming soon, including info about my first meeting with the team.

Category : Uncategorized

My first night in India

Oct. 31, 2006

I feel lucky to be staying with Mr. and Mrs. Kohli, friends of my father´s, in Gurgaon, just outside Delhi. They have welcomed me into their home for the next few weeks. The Kohlis are a very sweet couple with a comfy place and tasty home cooking.

Though I have visited India several times, this my first time in the capital. My family ties are in Gujarat, which is in the west, bordering Pakistan. Delhi´s sights and sounds are frenetic: busses blaring their horns, mangy dogs wandering the streets, and vendors selling brightly coloured floral garlands.

I have no idea what to expect in the coming days when shooting begins. I hope the coaches and athletes are as welcoming as they were when I met them last January. They were delighted that I wanted to make a film about female boxers. These women receive little to no media attention since the whole country is obsessed with cricket. We´ll see how it goes. I´ll keep you posted.

Category : Uncategorized

Ahhh, Air France.

Oct. 30, 2006

Sipping wine and munching on cheese and baguette, I began my journey to India via Paris. After a few days of frantic packing and last-minute equipment shopping, I was finally prepared to begin production of my documentary.

I have been planning this shoot for about a year now so I was rearing to go. My film focuses on the rise of female boxers in India. Who knew India produced world champion female boxers? I certainly didn´t. They are largely unheard of. This aggressive sport is quite taboo for young Indian women, and cultural expectations make it tough for them to be accepted by society. Starting November 17, Delhi will host the women´s world boxing championship, so this is a great time to be here.

Last January, I had the opportunity to meet many of the boxers around the country and do some preliminary interviews. I was so inspired by their strength and determination. I am thrilled to be documenting their stories.

The days leading up to my departure were hectic. I picked up a cell phone from a kiosque in Montreal just before leaving. I got a good deal, but it certainly came at a price. The phone was a special edition model from China, and the default language was set to Mandarin. Unable to change any settings on the phone, the shopkeeper barked to two Asian passersby: ‘Girls, you speak Chinese?’ I cringed.

Finally, I was settled and ready to go. Ahoy Delhi!

Category : Uncategorized

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