Recruiting Women Boxers into Local Gyms

Sept. 17, 2008, 11:38 a.m. (ET)

The future of our sport depends on our ability to recruit boxers into our local gyms who are willing to train and compete in the toughest of all sports. Once recruited, boxers must be retained in the sport in order to achieve success on the local, regional and national levels. Coaches across the U.S. are responsible for the recruitment and retention, as well as the training, of these boxers.

Boxers who wish to compete on the US National team must learn international tactics and strategies to make them successful on the international level. Those elements are honed in international competition, and developed through a commitment to international success. Boxers competing on the international level only represent a small percentage of all the boxers across the nation, however their ability to perform successfully on the World stage is paramount to our continued success as an Olympic sport. And again, it all begins with recruiting boxers into our local gyms.

Below are some ideas for places coaches can recruit female boxers; keys to retention of boxers; and various materials that might be helpful for efforts on the local level.

Some boxers come to the sport for fun, for fitness, out of curiosity, because it's something crazy to try for awhile, or because they want to compete as amateur or professional boxers. Successful Olympic-style boxers are diverse in their reasons for beginning the sport. If they have a positive first experience in the gym, boxers are more likely to return for continued lessons.

Some ways to recruit female boxers:
  • Contact middle schools and high schools to hold a boxing demonstration for the female school membership or the entire school membership (similar to what Girls Scouts/Boy Scouts does). Boxers can demonstrate punches, defense, and mitt work, etc.
  • Introduce yourself to a specific teacher in your community and make yourself available to speak to a class, such as Physical Education, Health, even English.
  • Contact middle or high school athletic directors about posting materials in the off-season of various sports such as volleyball, basketball, track and field.
  • Contact college athletic directors to leave materials for juniors and seniors who are collegiate athletes, and may be expecting to end their athletic careers after their final college season.
  • Contact local media to do a story on a female boxer already in your gym, or hold an "open tryout" for girls and women who would like to try boxing.
  • Introduce yourself to your local police community advocate for students/parents looking for ways to channel energy in a positive direction.
  • Place flyers on community bulletin boards, pass them out at grocery stores.
  • Hold an event and ask a parent to monitor a table with information about becoming involved in boxing.
  • Hold demonstrations at housing developments, shopping centers, or community information fairs.
  • Word of mouth. The best marketing is good people saying good things about your program.

Want more ideas? Ask coaches and boxers, already in your gym, for their opinion. Your best recruitment options will depend on your area of the country, your neighborhood, and trends in your area.

The easiest recruiting method is to simply add images of female boxers to those materials you already have (website, videos, flyers, other promotional materials). This will convey your appreciation for their contribution, and that you value what girls and women bring to the gym.

One benefit of recruiting female boxers is that when you intentionally recruit girls and women to your gym, boys and men will also respond (while the opposite is rarely true). A marketing effort aimed at girls and women will grow a gym in many ways, thus making the effort doubly worthwhile.

Retention of Female Boxers:

Female boxers leave competitive amateur boxing for a number of reasons. Some boxers grow too old to participate, others lose interest because they don't get competitive opportunities. Some female boxers feel unwanted or mistreated at gyms, and others simply move on to conquer new challenges. The best retention methods for competitive-minded boxers, is to consider some of their competitive desires:

  • Competitive boxers want to compete.
  • Competitive boxers want to improve.
  • Competitive boxers want their boxing training to be fun and interesting.

Aside from your own ideas, and the ideas of other coaches, parents, boxers, and volunteers in your gym, here are a few materials that might be of assistance in the recruitment of female boxers in your area:

  • Download the poster that the Women's Task Force produced and distributed at the 2008 National Championships.
  • Download the English version of the flyer that the Women's Task Force produced and distributed at the 2006 National Championships.
  • Download the Spanish version of the flyer that the Women's Task Force produced and distributed at the 2006 National Championships.
  • Download the USAB template for Press Release to send to your local newspaper.