Nike noted that the new design was aimed at addressing both the cultural requirements of the garment and the particular styles of each Muslim country. Nike also said that fewer than one in seven girls participates in locally recommended sports activities for an hour or more in Middle Eastern countries and said it hopes to inspire more women and girls there "who still face barriers and limited access to sport."
"We did a study where we looked at jockeys - we have lots of female jockeys, particularly in point-to-point racing. The women actually fall off less often than the men but when they hit the ground, they have nearly four times the rate of concussion. It was about 3.6:1 compared to the men and that was very interesting for us but very, very difficult to explain. It's the same right the way around the world."
Women’s boxing in America has come a fair way since Nell Saunders and Rose Harland fought for pride and a silver butter dish in 1876, but it has had to bob and weave against men who resisted letting them become part of the sport. The American Civil Liberties Union had to sue USA Boxing, the amateur governing body, in 1993 to allow in women like Mayer. The Amateur International Boxing Association only lifted its ban on women in 1994. And the London Olympics in 2012 was the first time women had ever boxed at the games.
"Boxing has trained me to be brave. By feeling scared but still knowing how to react by letting go of the fear and being completely present in the moment. It’s a whole different mental space to learn to feel calm in the face of potential harm. In life, much like in the ring, it’s all about showing up, and as my coach Darryl always says: ‘It’s not always about hitting, it’s about not getting hit.’ I apply that to my life every day.”
It was only 10 years ago that there were hardly any girls fighting in those stadiums, even if they were allowed to. Gongsert explains that girls used to box only in ceremonial fights in local temples, during festivals or holidays. And in Bangkok today, the official stadiums still do not allow women, citing their adherence to the tradition in which women were barred from nonceremonial fights. In spite of this, Gongsert says kickboxing has become more popular with women across the country in recent years, and Chiang Mai is at the leading edge. It has a lot to do with the fact that the city’s stadiums have now started accepting female fighters. Kawila, a military stadium that burned down about six years ago, did not allow women to box until after it was rebuilt.
Boxing has been an Olympic sport since 1904 and was a male only event till the 2008 Beijing Games. "There was a time when men's boxing had 13 weight categories, which dropped to 10 and they could now be dropping to eight in 2020. Women's boxing deserves the expansion. But at the same time men's boxing will continue to fight for its territory," said India's High Performance Director Santiago Nieva. His response quite sums up the situation in international boxing where the general view is that while it's good to have more women at the Olympics but men shouldn't be too drastically affected.
Casal’s club is inclusive. “These guys and girls here — even though they are of different ages or abilities, when they come here, none of that matters, We’re all in it together,” he continues, his eyes still on the group. Champion’s built at Casal’s are both male and female, of varying ages, ethnicities and capabilities and come from a wide variety of backgrounds. There is no sense of shyness, arrogance or ego present, just a comfortable respect for one another. “They challenge themselves and learn what can happen if you work hard and the best part is, look at them,” he said, pointing to the ring, a boyish grin on his face. “It’s hard, really hard and they still have fun doing it.”