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As the film progresses, she emerges as a competent spokeswoman for her fellow fighters and a good choice for the documentary's attention. Successful, thoughtful, and attractive, Rijker appears dedicated to her training and resolved in the face of other fighters, discriminatory comments, or any other obstacles she may encounter.
Despite the film's positioning of Rijker as the model of a successful, independent woman fighter, however, we learn that it's the last of these qualities her looks that gave Rijker her break in the fight game. In a ringside interview, her promoter Bob Arum reveals his feelings that women boxers, as a rule, lack talent or appeal. He remembers that when she appeared in his office wearing a "real sexy dress," however, Arum was convinced to change his tune and promote Rijker's fights.
Arum's comments typify the stereotypes women boxers face, as they continue to be seen and objectified first as women and only secondarily and reluctantly as fighters. The film itself, though, manages to blend examples of Rijker's and other women's raw aggression in the ring with slow motion depictions of their grace, coordination, and, ultimately, beauty.
The title of the film could refer to one of several slow motion scenes in which Rijker, in dramatic, black and white chiaroscuro, weaves in and out of light and shadow, practicing her boxing technique to the strains of an atmospheric soundtrack composed by an artist known as Zoel.
The film similarly slows down color footage of her fights, demonstrating through Rijker the sport's emphasis on flexibility, footwork, and hand speed over mindless pummeling. Through these images, Shadow Boxers successfully refigures boxing as less a contest of brutality and more a match of technique and style.
The film at once complicates the sport for those who would decry it as merely excessive violence though violence is certainly a major aspect and situates Rijker's place in boxing and the place of women, by extension as that of a competent, confident competitor.
In other words, Rijker looks like a natural. Even when the camera follows her to an all-male boxing retreat, to prepare for her next fight, Rijker is relaxed and focused around her training mates. Seated around a dinner table, laughing and joking with the men, it's clear that the group is bonded by their shared experiences as boxers, rather than separated by considerations of gender. If scenes like this surprise viewers, still more jaw-dropping is the film's discussion of the Women's International Boxing Federation WIBFwhich operated as early as the s.
Rather than a recent fad in the sport, then, the film shows that women have been in the game since the days of Joe Louis and Max Schmeling, and not just as ring girls. The beneficiaries of this legacy, today's women boxers are now able to command significant purses and support themselves solely by fighting.
Although much of the attention paid to women's boxing goes to Laila Ali and Jacqui Frazier-Lyde daughters of male boxing stars Muhammad Ali and Smokin' Joe Frazieror to fallen figure skater Tonya Harding's recent foray into the sport, Shadow Boxers is an important reminder that the sport also boasts accomplished, though lesser known fighters like Lucia Rijker.
Women's boxing still may be less popular than its male counterpart, and Rijker may similarly fight in the shadows of more celebrated -- or notorious -- women fighters. Shadow Boxers, however, brings this talent, laboring in obscurity, to light. Almager, a 5'9" southpaw with a solid record with 7 KO's had been seen as an opponent who might test Lucia, but it was not to be.
Almager seemed nervous and had been out of the ring since her bloody defeat by Valerie Henin Wiet ; she was also coming off knee surgery and had difficulty making weight for the bout. Lucia drove her into a corner with her first concerted attack, and decked her with a short left hook below the ear. The referee stopped the contest when Almager got up looking dazed. Lucia's post-fight interview was as long as the action See the full fight report by Chuck McAllister.
This may qualify as a plan to avoid pain, but it isn't going to win the fight. For a while, though, it does succeed in keeping Lucia at bay.
The first two rounds go very slowly, with few punches landed. By the third, there are scattered boos from the audience. Lucia seems overcautious, and the crowd, which expects women's fights to be wild, isn't pleased. So far, this has been like a boring men's match fought by women.
In the third round, Lucia starts to close in, and the referee gives Ested a second warning for holding, and for keeping her head so low it's practically waist-high some of the time.
Ested is clearly scared, and Lucia, wary of being sucker-punched, is biding her time until she gets an opening. In the fourth round she does. She lands a short left hook - the first good punch of the evening - and sends Ested down for a count. Twenty seconds later, Lucia lands a left-right combination that rocks Ested on her heels. With Ested cornered, Lucia lands three vicious rights to the head, loads up to land another and closes in for the kill - at which point a gallant Smoger, who seems determined to be a gentleman as well as a referee, dives between them, waves off Lucia and kisses Ested on the cheek: She has since fought more successfully as a featherweight!
Las Vegas photojournalist Mary Ann Owen, who was at ringside and took the photographs shown above and below, told us that "Rijker hit Dutra with tremendous power body shots. Lucia had a bloody nose and caught some of Dutra's punches Her association with promoter Bob Arum severed Arum preferring to promote the more superficial talents of Mia St. John, who was fighting four-rounders. With talk of male-female boxing also in the air at the time, Stan Hoffman suggested that Lucia might fight a man in a "handicapped" bout.
Louis, Mississippi on December 5th, Numerous sources told me that Denise Moraeteswho had been seeking a match with Rijker for over a year, also signed a contract for the fight. But Moraetes was told on November 29 that the match was off, making it the third time that a Rijker-Moraetes bout had been shelved at short notice. In she became the subject of a new flurry of publicity On February 16, at Mohegan Sun Casino in Uncasville, Connecticut, Rijker finally returned to competition after a more than two-year absence with a fourth-round TKO of Shakurah Witherspoon of Williamsport, Pennsylvania in a scheduled six-round lightweight bout.
Witherspoon, who took the fight at short notice after one scheduled Rijker opponent pulled out and a second tested pregnant, was in survival mode for most of the fight as Rijker attacked her with hard hooks to the body. Witherspoon went to the canvas from a right hook in the third round and dropped to her knees midway through the fourth, prompting the stoppage by referee Michael Ortega.
Witherspoon fell to 4 KO's. Rijker told Patrick Kelly of FightNews: Carla is a tough competitor and that is why we took the fight.
We knew Carla would be a worthy opponent even at the last minute. I was anxious to make quick work of her. I was happy with my performance". On June 21, at Staples Center in Los Angeles, California, Lucia lbs reappeared again after several more false alarms to post a unanimous shut out , eight-round decision over a game Jane Couch lbs of Fleetwood, UK.
Lucia Rijker - Wikipedia
Rijker looked confident and fought most of the bout with her hands down, while peppering Couch with strong rights, stiff jabs and vicious uppercuts. Couch stayed in front of Rijker the whole way and made her pay for her hands-low stance occasionally when she connected with hard shots of her own, some of which stunned Rijker. Rijker landed two powerful rights to Couch's head with about 30 seconds left in the seventh round, and when the bell sounded Couch appeared to have trouble locating her own corner.
According to Couch, "I have been in with tougher punchers, but she is definitely a great fighter, probably the greatest women's boxer in the world. She hit me with a right hand in the first round that busted my right eardrum and I couldn't hear a thing. She is a courageous woman. I tried to knock her out the whole time. I hit her with some great shots. I absolutely was trying to finish her the whole time. At the peak of Lucia's boxing activity In the late 's, matching her with boxing's then most-publicized woman, Christy Martinlooked like the one "superfight" that might move the sport up to a new level in publicity and in compensation to the boxers, which still had a long way to go to match the men's sport.
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At this time, the Martin vs. Rijker match looked intriguing because Martin could probably have tested Rijker's defense and chin more than any of her previous opponents, and Lucia had had some problems with Chevelle Hallback 's hard-charging style early in their fight.
However, the Martin camp apparently felt there was too much to lose in this matchup. Martin questioned Rijker's status as a female, and implied that Rijker's phenomenal physical condition was enhanced by supplements.
Martin balked at splitting the purse with Rijker, saying that she Martin would be the drawing card for the fight. Lucia then offered to fight "winner take all", but there was still no deal.