Women boxing's day finally comes

By Padraic Halpin, Reuters

Posted at Aug 05 2012 04:05 PM | Updated as of Aug 06 2012 12:05 AM

LONDON - After judging controversies marred the first week of fights at the London's Games, boxing's governing body will play its trump card on Sunday when they allow women to compete on an Olympic stage for the first time.

The inclusion of women's boxing, rejected in the past because of a limited global appeal that saw them only sanctioned to fight in the 2012 host country 15 years ago, brings to an end the last all-male sport at the summer games.

Competing in just three categories and with smaller fields than their male counterparts, the women have had to wait over a week to make their bow, watching on as two officials were sent home and another referee suspended.

For one day at least, those controversies will be forgotten.

"It means a lot to me, we never really got our recognition. I think that it's right, and that we're going to be able to showcase the best of women's boxing," 17-year-old American middleweight Claressa Shields told Reuters.

"We've got really good women here. When they see the best, they're going to be like 'yeah, women can box'."

The International Boxing Association's (AIBA) president said last week that he hopes more women will box at the Games in four years time and that he would press the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to increase its quota of competitors to allow it to do so.

That is provided they perform well, AIBA president Wu Ching-kuo said, something India's Mary Kom and Ireland's Katie Taylor, sporting heroes in their countries who hold nine world titles between them, fully intend doing.

Like Shields, Taylor and Kom have received byes into the quarter-finals and have to wait until Monday to join the action, leaving it to 24 fly, light and middleweight fighters to blaze the trail on Sunday.

When North Korea's Hye Song Kim and Elena Savelyeva of Russia take to the ring at 1230 GMT, the world will be watching. (Additional reporting by Patrick Johnston; editing by Michael Holden)