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‘Far More Viewers Than The WNBA’: Fans Left Divided as Women’s Boxing Photograph From 1938 Goes Viral

Published 10/05/2022, 11:17 AM EDT

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Boxing has long been considered one of the oldest sports in the world. Ever since humankind learned to make a fist, pugilism has been a swift vehicle of dispute resolution. The sport of boxing has also given rise to some of the most skilled and feared women athletes in the combat sports scene. Meanwhile, a resurfaced picture from 1938 that shows women boxing on a rooftop has left boxing fans intrigued.

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Women’s boxing goes back a pretty long time. One of the first documented fights took place in 1722 when the bare-knuckle boxer Elizabeth Wilkinson challenged Hannah Hayfield of Newgate Market. Many argue that this may have been one of the first female prizefights in London.


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The female-centric side of the sport later gained prominence. It became a part of the 1904 Summer Olympics that took place in St. Louis, Missouri. However, it should be mentioned that women’s boxing was only a demonstration sport at the 1904 Olympics.

Meanwhile, a Facebook page named ‘History in Pictures‘ recently shared a picture of a rooftop women’s boxing match from 1938. The iconic photo showed two women engaged in a boxing session, while another group of women watch. The fact that these women were wearing dancing shoes gives a hint that they might have performers for a variety show. It also seems like a candid stunt match for a photograph than a real one.

The picture was taken on top of the Ball Building in Paramount lot, Hollywood. But at that time it was the RKO or the Radio-Keith-Orpheum.

It is worth noting that RKO Radio Pictures Inc. was one of the top studios at that time and was behind some of the biggest movies in the 1930s and 1940s.

Boxing fans share their thoughts on the iconic photograph

Boxing fans were divided after watching the video of the women boxing. And a lot of them took to social media to share their thoughts.

User Andrew Law said, “This seems so dangerous.”


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But, a few users felt like the picture was staged. User Rafael Enrique Rosario said, “It looks really posed.”

Another user Roberta Faulkner said, “Looks posed. Still a crazy cool pic.”

Similarly, user Kremena Ísland exclaimed, “Where is the violence, blood & sweat? It looks like dancing fashionistas.”

Meanwhile, there was another question that made Jesse Gomez curious. He asked, “Hate to ask what they’re fighting for.”

And, user W-Ping Wong channeled the iconic movie ‘Fight Club’ to mention, “I thought the rule of Fight Club is we do NOT talk about Fight Club!”

User Maureen Petersen had other doubts. She said, “Women boxing. I’ll never get it.”


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However, user Alex Hatfield begged to differ, “I used to be conflicted about women’s combat sports until I met a female UFC fighter and realized these chic’s are just as passionate and tough as their male counterparts.”

User Ryan Sovak on the other hand felt that it will be a bigger crowd puller than WNBA. He said, “I can assure you if they brought back female rooftop boxing it would bring in far more viewers than the WNBA.”

While it is unknown if this picture is staged. It will remain an iconic photograph nevertheless. And would go down in the books of boxing history.


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Written by:

Joshua Ben Joseph


One take at a time

Joshua Ben Joseph is a Boxing writer for EssentiallySports. He started his career as an editorial cartoonist and holds a BFA degree with a specialization in Animated Filmmaking and Screenwriting from AISFM, Hyderabad. An avid lover of boxing history, Joshua believes his writing extends his lifelong adoration for combat sports.
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Edited by:

Ajinkya Aswale