Mike Tyson thanked Allah but later complained his 30-million dollar paycheck wasn’t enough. Frank Bruno seized six-million, Christy Martin strutted home with a broken nose and 15-thousand, and Deirdre Gogarty deposited three-thousand dollars in the bank.
In Ireland, Deirdre’s family watched Tyson and Bruno on TV, but a men’s fight in Germany usurped their daughter’s valiant effort with Christy. The newspapers covered the bout, but the networks refused.
Monday after Gogarty’s battle with Martin, she cycled to work in Lafayette, Louisiana—too broke to buy a car after paying her cornermen. Commuters surprised her when they honked and waved in recognition of her pay-per-view fight.
The media buzzed with news of Martin and Gogarty. Howard Stern raved about the fight on his radio program, and it seemed the time had come for women pugilists to be recognized as serious athletes in a sport owned by men.
However, in 15 years, not much has changed. Not only is there still a vast difference in pay between men and women boxers, networks remain reluctant to televise women’s matches.
When discussing the discrepancy with male boxers, fans, and coaches, I hear the same age-old arguments: “Women can’t fill as many arena seats” and “Men fight longer and more rounds.”
No one mentions that men and women sweat, sacrifice, and train equally hard. And, in boxing, it’s difficult to find other women to spar. Women have to duke it out in the ring with men who outweigh them and return punches with twice the power and speed.
I imagine Billie Jean King heard the same rebuttals during her tennis career. After winning the 1972 US Open Tennis Championships, she told officials she would not return without equal pay.
In 1973, the US Open closed the gender gap and became the first major tournament to award equal prize money. It took three decades, but the Australian Open, French Open, and Wimbledon followed suit.
The time is long overdue for boxing to join ranks with tennis, share the airwaves with women boxers, and eliminate the pay differential between women and men.