While women's MMA has enjoyed a surge in popularity recently, women's boxing continues to flounder in anonymity. Not since the days of Laila Ali has the sport had any sort of following from anyone other than a tiny segment of society. That is sad considering the talent many of these women exhibit, just begging to be discovered and appreciated by the masses.
Ask the average MMA fan to name some women stars, and there is no doubt, whether they follow women or not, that they will easily rattle of a dozen or more active, relevant fighters. Now ask a boxing fan to do the same with women boxers, and you might get five if you are lucky, and most, if not all of them will be either retired or well past their prime.
So why is it that women's MMA has gained a foothold and women's boxing has sunk into the abyss following the departure of Laila Ali? Perhaps it isn't all that simple, but a large portion of the blame falls directly on the ladies themselves. MMA fighters have learned well from their male counterparts, eagerly promoting themselves at every turn. The ladies of boxing seem to have for the most part, accepted a diminished role, afraid to say or do anything that might rock the boat.
The question is why? What is the worst that could happen? The fans may care less than they already do? Ronda Rousey, Meisha Tate, and so many other women MMA fighters refused to let themselves be classified as second class citizens. As a result they have gained acceptance, main-eventing UFC cards, starring in movies based of their fighting success, and in many cases reaching higher levels of success than the men.
Yet the women of boxing remain strangely quiet. Not since Laila Ali has any boxer really demanded to be heard. As a journalist covering both sports, I often talk to women competing in each. The MMA fighters are more quick to respond, more adept at the use of social media, and most importantly, always give their opinion. It isn't like pulling teeth to get something out of them. Ask Felice Herrig any question and you will get an answer. Her answers are never meant to be nice or politically correct, and that is why, despite her not being among the truly elite fighters, she has a huge following. She has embraced social media and public relations, and has used them to make the most out of her potential.
In boxing, many of the best competing avoid media at all costs. Multiple time world champions I have dealt with will refuse to even allow photos of them be taken. Well, when you shun the media, the public will not know you. When the public doesn't know you, they don't care about you. So while Ronda Rousey is busy main-eventing UFC's, women boxing champions are often forced to fight in other countries because they can't find a venue interested enough in hosting women's matches in the United States.
Women's boxing is never going to be as popular as men's. But there is no reason why the talented women dedicating their lives to being the best can't at least carve out a comfortable living, along with a moderate level of fame. They just need to realize that they have to work as hard outside the gym as they do in it. If you don't care enough to promote yourself, don't expect others to. Quit worrying that your words may offend. As of now few people even care what you have to say. Change that. Give people a reason to listen to you. Make them care about you as a person, and they will care about you as a fighter.