Adam Thorn reviews a documentary now available on Sky about the genesis of the women's code which is well worth your time

In the 1970’s the New York State Athletic Commission was a dominant governing force not only in US but worldwide combat sports. Women’s boxing was both unheard of and an unregulated form of fighting. It was shut down by the powers that be with impunity, rampant sexism seemingly being the main motivation; at least, according to Georgina Cammalleri’s new documentary Right to Fight. It’s hard to argue against this compelling capture of the boxing culture at the time, though.

Right to Fight is about the origins, or at least public origins, of women's boxing; something with a sadly but predictably lurid genesis. Interviewing some of its (eloquent, captivating) stars at the time as well as satellite personalities and experts, the film flows with integrity and intelligence. Several veterans and pioneers of the sport from the era are candid and the film pieces together an awful lot of footage and photos, which really help to demonstrate quite how talented these ladies were in the ring.

Other than just the physical fights they put on, the biggest challenge faced was prejudice. It is quite shocking to see how much of a misogynist Muhammad Ali was. It's not a surprise that the rest of the world was awful to women, but given his elevated status and being held up for something of a God these days, to see Ali being quite so horrible is a bit depressing. He's one man in a world of dicks, though.

There's an awful lot of talk about the people who take advantage of the fighters, but unfortunately that’s like the rest of boxing, even today; it's such a minefield of those who want to help you and predators who want to use you to help them. Right to Fight Also touches on sexuality, homophobia and stereotypes and it's quite touching in places because you know these ladies have probably faced more outside the ring than it.

"The women who fought their way into the ring" is a perfect tagline.

You're seeing these fighters in the autumn of their life reminiscing, it’s much more human and pleasantly surprising for that. They fought fifty years ago, so even if they were twenty then they are seventy now. The film is touching and contemplative and you have to just show respect to these absolute warriors who didn't just battle in the ring but about that of it. Right to Fight crescendos in a very moving way which cold clocked me, and you gotta love it when a film does that.

Unfortunately, the system you're in is never going to be something you can break on your own, but these women together spearheaded a boxing revolution. The Right to Fight left me wowed. 8/10


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