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Male and female boxing

  1. Sep 23, 2015 #1
    I was in a discussion recently about Rhonda Rousey. We were debating whether or not she could beat a man in a fight. Now I'm purely discussing the theory of her fighting a man about the same size as her with an equal amount of training. Obviously she'd obliterate a normal man in a fight, but get destroyed herself by someone like Tyson who outweighed her by 100 pounds.

    I've done martial arts for 20 years, both upright sparring and grappling. In terms of pure fighting, there is little advantage to being male. While men tend to be significantly stronger, the amount of leverage used in martial arts quickly nullifies that. The styles I've done and taught tend to be about fighting with intelligence, in which I've determined that men and women are on essentially a level playing field in that respect.

    Boxing is different than a street fight or self defense because both sides are well trained I maintain that the physical advantages of being male would make her a significant underdog, but it got me wondering how great the advantage would really be?

    Men can easily out benchpress any women of similar size and physique, but boxing is about fast twitch muscles, not slow ones. How much stronger are those? Women tend not to be able to break as many boards/cinder blocks as their male counterparts, but I wonder how much of that is bias based on my particular students just being timid and holding back, men tend to be more brutish and simply try and then get used to bigger breaks. I've seen female masters break just as much as I can, but then again, I've watched male masters break significantly more than I can.

    I know that reaction time in men is also slightly faster than women's on average, does this advantage increase or decrease as training increases? In self defense, there is little difference because the reaction time of a trained person will always be better than someone not. In upright sparing, I'd hesitate to judge because my students and fellow students never had the level of training of a professional, their skill levels aren't as close as two professionals.

    Are there any other major differences for either side when it comes to out ability to box?
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 24, 2015 #2
    Of course she could. What you want to debate is the probability or constancy as which she could beat a man. It might be less than a male counterpart, but her being a women doesn't make her a little puppy. I play coed soccer every week and although I have the physical advantage most times against women, they beat me reasonably often.
    Last edited: Sep 28, 2015
  4. Sep 25, 2015 #3
    Soccer isn't fighting... there's a reason sports are divided by gender. Women don't play men in Rugby, basketball, or any other major professional sport. Men are genetically inclined to be physically stronger and larger than women. That's a fact of life. I've never done much sparing, so I can't speak from experience, but I'd say it's a pretty fair bet that all else being equal in terms of experience and skill level, a woman is not going to be able to beat a man in a fighting sport in most cases.
  5. Sep 25, 2015 #4
    Correct, I should have specified I was talking about probability. Hell, if I were to fight Mike Tyson enough, I'd probably be able to choke him out at least once after being knocked out ten thousand times. I think there will always be a slight statistical advantage to a man in anything physical, I'm just wondering by how much. I would think the more physical, the more advantage men would have. Female vs male chess masters would probably go 50/50, WNBA teams vs NBA teams would probably go more like 1/99, volleyball would probably be somewhere in between.

    I also actually played soccer once a week, and I've never seen a major difference in either sex's abilities, but I don't think it's a fair analogy. Soccer is much more of an intellectual game, it's about strategy, knowing when to dribble, pass, shoot... and in that aspect there'd be no discernible advantage to either sex. Think about this though, 88 minutes of the game is played like that, but 2 minutes of them the play is very different and most goals are scored during these plays: penalty kick, corner kick, and a throw in near the goal. Men have a clear advantage in all of those situation both from our ability to kick and throw faster and further, but also our ability to jump to head the ball in or out. I played indoor soccer, where actually none of that mattered so I think it was even more even than outdoor soccer would be. When you said coed, did you mean men and women intermixed or men vs women? In high school, our men and women teams played each other and the men won more than the women (granted these are teenagers and not physically or mentally adults.) 1 on 1 they seem equal (which is why I probably saw no difference when we played intermixed), as a group the boys seemed to have an advantage, I'm not completely sure why, I would think it's because of those 2 critical minutes. I also was trying to specify that I'm referring to the upper limit of ability: in soccer that'd be like World Cup players, not guys like us.

    @Greg Bernhardt you did make me think deeper about what specifically men's physical advantages are and I take back what I said about punching power. While I think men can hit significantly harder than women when everything else is equal, but at the level I'm discussing (world class, best in the world level) the power of the punch is much less important than it's precision. Most KO punches, would still have been a KO punch if it had 10% less power.

    Shouldn't there be a Darwinian reason for men to be better fighters? Male primates physically fight more than females, or do you think that gets cancelled out with skill since there were no world class fighters back then.
    Last edited: Sep 25, 2015
  6. Sep 25, 2015 #5
    Let's look at tennis. Venus Williams, ranked #1 at the time, challenged a man ranked #125 or so. He defeated her easily. Men are quicker on their feet and hit much harder. This would be even more of an advantage in boxing than in tennis, I would think.

    A girl sued to be allowed to play high school football. She suffered internal injuries, for which her parents sued the school.

    A sport where women can compete equally with men or even have an advantage might be rock climbing. Low weight is more important than strength. Flexibility and small fingers are an advantage. Lynn Hill was one of the best rock climbers, and men found it very difficult to repeat her routes. It might be one of those sports where the ideal body is that of a ten-year-old girl.

    Then there are "sports" like automobile racing, where women already have parity.
  7. Sep 25, 2015 #6
    I'm not challenging your authenticity, but could you provide links/references to these two anecdotes?
  8. Sep 25, 2015 #7

    The Venus Williams thing should be very, very easy to find.

    As to the high school girl that shouldn't be very hard either. It was over a decade ago, and I don't feel like looking for it.
  9. Sep 25, 2015 #8
    Well don't make claims then if you aren't willing to provide sources. Anyways, I found this article about notable Men v.s. Women tennis matches:


    It seems in the majority of cases where there was no handicap given the the female player, the male player won.

    There are definitely athletic sports where Women can compete or even excel against men - but not in sports where strength and speed are very important. If you doubt the speed thing, take a look at these numbers:


    The fastest woman's time is slower than the 25th fastest men's time.
  10. Sep 25, 2015 #9


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    From what I've seen over the years (not necessarily boxing) is that a well placed punch, whether coming from a male or female, can cause a knockout. To me, the one throwing the knockout punch is the best ... for that bout.
  11. Sep 25, 2015 #10


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    Thank your grandmothers.

    According to the work cited below, the reason people live longer than other primates is because at some point in our evolutionary history grandmothers began gathering food to help feed weaning toddlers. This freed up young mothers to have more children. Hence, longer-lived grandmothers conveyed a reproductive advantage and this led to an effective doubling of the human lifespan beyond the reproductive years for women.

    However this also led to more men in the population, who were (from an evolutionary standpoint) fertile through their entire lifespan. More men in the "able to reproduce" pool meant competition for fertile women. This condition led to the phenomenon of mate guarding where males would guard their female mate against other potential suitors. Those males who successfully guarded their mates also had a reproductive advantage in that they would have more offspring than those who didn't.

    So it would seem to me, if you have more males than females and mate-guarding behavior, you're going to have more males than females fighting each other.

    I suspect this translates into such odd modern day behaviours as stepping into a boxing ring to determine which competitor will sustain the lesser degree of the head injuries they will both inevitably receive.

    For reference:

    Grandmothers making people pair up.

    Grandmothers feeding grandchildred lead to extended lifespans.
  12. Sep 27, 2015 #11
    Agreed, what I'm wondering is: are men more precise fighters? Did our brains evolve to perform slightly better in a physical confrontation? Almost certainly yes to both questions, but is there a point at which skill can nullify the advantage completely?

    @Choppy, very interesting.
  13. Sep 27, 2015 #12


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    You're confusing a sport for fighting, they aren't equivalent.

    This question is difficult to follow exactly what the point of discussion is.
  14. Sep 28, 2015 #13
    Avid fan of USA Boxing here, just a few comments.
    This may seem contrary to intuition, but heavy bench press (or any heavy, compound lift) recruits more fast twitch muscle than slow by a huge margin. Slow twitch is almost exclusively used to govern endurance activities; as such, both are very important to the boxer. A marathoner cares little about his fast twitch, relatively, and a sprinter or shotputter cares little about her slow twitch. Who throws the stronger punch?

    That is to say, don't let the obese, aesthetically unpleasant powerlifter types lead you to think lifting is equivalent to slow. Many of the fastest and most explosive athletes lift very heavy and haven't been slowed down by it.
    This is very anecdotal, but within my varied experiences with Crossfit and boxing I've seen women have consistently higher pain tolerances than most men. Males might be genetically much more disposed to powerlifting or Olympic lifting and the types of training (three to five rep maxes) therein, but once the "struggle" of the sport stretches beyond 30-60 seconds, it is an exceptional guy who can keep going alongside the females. That said, a male may achieve heavier weights/faster times/et al, but is more likely to gas out after a number rounds of exertion.

    All that to conclude that if a female boxer had amazing footwork and agility, as well as reach and dimensions in the same ballpark as her male competitor, she could very likely tire him out granted she didn't take too many hard hits early in the fight.

    One guy's opinion...
  15. Sep 28, 2015 #14
    Rhonda against a random guy in a bar with no fighting experience? Yes she would probably win.

    Rhonda against literally any male UFC fighter in the flyweight division (125 pounds)? Not a chance. She would be obliterated within the first round. Check out the sparring match with Gegard Mousasi. He playfully tosses her around AT WILL like a ragdoll.

    The thing is, Rhonda is not even a GREAT fighter. The social justice warriors are hyping her up as this unstoppable force that can crush anyone, including guys and it's just not even close. Her judo is world class but her striking is terrible and, unfortunately, there just aren't any other females out there yet to compete at that level.
  16. Sep 28, 2015 #15


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    On this forum if you make a claim and someone asks for citations you are expected to back up said claim. "Can't be bothered" isn't a valid excuse.
  17. Sep 28, 2015 #16


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    Why bring brains into this? It's fact that men are on average taller and stronger than women. Skill can obviously overcome this natural advantage, as can luck. Asking whether or not a female professional fighter could beat a male professional fighter purely on strength/mass is like asking if a heavyweight male fighter could beat a middle weight male in the same sport.
  18. Sep 28, 2015 #17


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    It sounds to me, and to a lot of comments on here and in other forums, that people are concluding that women are incapable of being great athletes because somehow the benchmark of world-class athletes is the performance of the male athlete.

    To me, the very question of whether Rhonda Rousey can compete effectively against a male professional fighter is silly to begin with, because fundamentally female UFC fighting and male UFC fighting should be thought as two distinct sports, in much the same sense that male heavyweight boxing is a different type of sport to male bantamweight boxing. A male bantamweight boxer cannot effectively compete against a male heavyweight boxer, but does that mean that somehow the bantamweight boxer is a worse boxer than his heavyweight counterpart? The answer to that is an absolute no! They are different, one is not better than the other.

    As far as whether Rhonda is a great fighter -- well, is she a great fighter compared to other female fighters in her class? That's the comparison you should be looking at.
  19. Sep 28, 2015 #18


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    Men have had better running times in Marathons: http://www.marathonguide.com/history/records/ ; the difference in times for both marathons seems to have stabilized, at around 12-13 minutes. I wonder if the 2hr barrier will ever be crossed, or if it is a sort of natural barrier/limit.
  20. Sep 29, 2015 #19


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    Again, just from the discussion I'm reading here, the conclusion that I'm drawing is that somehow, because female athletes are unlikely to effective complete against male athletes in the same sport (the example here is boxing, but certainly examples from marathon running and tennis was brought up), that somehow female athletes are inferior to male athletes, and somehow women in sports are not worth paying attention to in comparison to men in sports.

    That seems to me to be a disturbing conclusion. Granted, I fully admit that I don't pay attention to any sports outside of the Olympics (both summer and winter -- and I pay equal attention to both male and female athletes in Olympics) and perhaps the FIFA World Cup, so my perspective is skewed.
  21. Sep 29, 2015 #20


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    I'm not seeing that. Are you sure you aren't reading into it something that isn't there?
  22. Sep 29, 2015 #21
    Female tennis players recently demanded prize money equal to the men, and got it.

    If women athletes drew bigger crowds and sold more merchandise than the men, they would get paid more than the men. I feel certain that women gymnasts get better endorsement deals than the men. (Can you name a male gymnast? I can't.)
    Last edited: Sep 29, 2015
  23. Sep 29, 2015 #22


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    Perhaps I may be reading more into this than is warranted, but post from Rick21383 in this thread had me concerned that somehow Rhonda Rousey's accomplishments as an athlete was being downplayed because she is a female athlete. Also much of the discussion involve how Rhonda will fair against male athletes in her chosen sport, which to me rings false, as women's boxing/fighting is not the same as men's boxing/fighting (this is similar to the distinction I make between bantamweight vs heavyweight boxing).
  24. Sep 29, 2015 #23


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    Perhaps, but then again, how many gymnasts (male or female) can you name? The only gymnast I can name off the top of my head is Nadia Comaneci and that has more to do with her defection to the West.
  25. Sep 29, 2015 #24

    OK. Nadia, Olga Korbut, Mary Lou Retton, Kim Zmescal, Okino, Ray, Kerri Strug. Olga Korbut was a sensation in the 70's and started the women's gymnastics trend. Mary Lou used to be on TV commercials endorsing batteries, so I imagine she got a good chunk of change out of that.

    Men, I know zero.
  26. Sep 29, 2015 #25


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    I am sorry, but I think you're going of the deep end here. Men and women _are_ different. Not saying men are better or worse, just different, despite what some of the radical feminists would want you to believe. Enough of this, please. There are sports where strength is a deciding factor, in these sports men are at a disadvantage. And, unless most people have been brainwashed, at least here in the US, men's sports are much more popular than female sports. Enough with the PC, please, from both sides.

    The woman's agenda has been distorted so far out of proportion, and it has engaged in such extreme cherry-picking, that it has taken away attention from actual, legitimate causes. And you barely ever hear about men's rights, so, please lets leave this out of this post -- or, if I could have my way, out of PF, except for an honest discussion of it.
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