The negotiation of anger and aggression in boxing: A gender perspective

Research papers
By Elisa Virgili

Over the past two decades, the presence of women in combat sports has increased. The introduction of women into a traditionally male practice has led to a growing interest in scholarly research in the field. This research has focused mostly on highlighting the empowerment function of combat sports and the potential for subversion of gender norms (Butler, 1990). This article aims to investigate a different aspect of this phenomenon, namely women’s negotiation of anger and aggression in the practice of boxing. In addition to investigating literature on the subject, I conducted semi-structured exploratory interviews with both (female) athletes and coaches, both in the field of amateur boxing and in that of community gyms in Milan. The aim is to offer an opportunity to reverse the perspective on emotions in sports. The goal is not only to be able to express these emotions as they are generally understood but to create a different approach in boxing through a gender perspective. A picture emerges of a transformation of gender norms in sport whose effect is felt outside sport too. The female athletes interviewed showed an attitude of non-conformity to the standard and imagery of male boxing and they have indicated that they can implement a change of approach to the discipline itself.

  • gender
  • boxing
  • performativity
  • gender norms
  • combat sports
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