Pictured: Lita Mae Button
Pictured: Maureen Riordon
On April 28th, 2012, Invicta FC ran their first all female, all pro women’s MMA event. The questions were obvious, would it draw, would people be interested, would it last. It has become clear that the answer to all those questions have been yes, to some degree or another. A major part of it’s initial success was the support on social media, be it the fighters themselves pushing the events or the fans on the female side of the sport pushing it. Over time, with Invicta and the success of fighters like Ronda Rousey, Women’s MMA, continues to grow to new heights. So why has women’s boxing not done the same? Can women’s boxing do the same? Will women’s boxing do the same. They answer to all is……. maybe!
How can we turn these maybes into yes’s? Well first off, we need to get those who compete in the sport to do more to push the sport on social media. We are doing our part as soon Jackie Baker will be hosting a boxing show for us. But one show on one podcast network will not help the sport grow. It needs to come in great part from the participants itself. Let’s face it, only the most hardcore of boxing fans will know many female boxers. Sure, they may know of Christy Martin, who was a nice undercard attraction on Mike Tyson PPV’s, or Lucia Rijker, someone who never got a real opportunity to show what she was capable of. Now they may know of Holly Holm, but they know her more as the boxer who has become an MMA fighter. Of course they also know Laila Ali, but the name Ali is a big reason for that. There are many talented boxers in the female divisions, and more use of social media to promote yourselves and the sport could go a long way in improving the fan base for a fighter and in turn draw more eyes on the sport.
Another thing is let’s see more all female cards. Nordic Coliseum ran a great card on August 16th that included bouts with Maureen Riordon vs Lita Mae Button and Olivia Gerula against Kaliesha West. The man behind it all, David Damphousse was on our show beforehand and said he hopes to one day see Nordic Coliseum become the boxing version of Invicta, and it surely can do that. If you were there in person or watched the live stream, you were surely entertained by a great night of action. They will run more events, but clearly are not rushing into it, which is smart and safe. But lets see some more events like this, even small local cards, hell, even all amateur cards. If promoted, there can be an audience, and maybe these smaller shows can help create more fighters who can move up to events such as the Nordic cards, the way fighters in MMA look to get put on an Invicta card. Think these small local shows won’t draw? I beg to differ. How many people go to local MMA events? Often quite a few. You think those in attendance know all those fighters? Nope!!!! They go to support a friend or a family member, and then you have the fans who just want a night out watching some fights. Boxing can be the same. There can be an audience. In 2001, Laila Ali vs Jacqui Frazier did over 100,00 buys. Granted, that was in part due to who their fathers were, but still, the audience tuned in because it had the right personalities and marketability.
Marketability, that is another thing. Market the fighters, don’t rely on them to do all the work, help them. Let’s look at the co-feature on the Nordic card. Lita Mae Button and Maureen Riordon, both are very marketable. Granted Maureen is known more as an MMA fighter, but none the less, both are very marketable. They have the attitude, personality, charisma, skill, and yes, the looks, to really draw fans in. They are not alone. If the people who call themselves fans of women’s combat sports, would push boxing as the do MMA and Muay Thai and help draw attention to fighters like Riordon- again, I know she is known more for MMA- and Button, they will help get fans to explore more female boxers, and create that interest. You sometimes will go see a movie just based on who is in the cast right? But then you often end up liking the movie, the plot and all that goes along with it. Plus, sometimes you find an actor you didn’t know, are impressed with him and gain another favorite actor. Same principle here. Let’s market and promote a Lita Mae Button, create a bigger fan base for her, show people why they should support her, people tune in for her fight, end up finding out the enjoy women’s boxing, and see another fighter or two who impresses them and find a couple more fighters they don’t want to miss compete.
Can women’s boxing grow overnight? No!!!! It’s growth would be and will be a process. But with the right support, the right promotion, the right forum and promotions like Nordic Coliseum, it can grow and will grow. But the boxers can’t do it alone, the promoters can’t do it alone, the media can’t do it alone and the fans can’t do it alone. It will take all of us to work together, but working together will make it more fun, more promising, and in the end, much more rewarding.