To all my non-boxers out there: you are probably aware that there are multiple weight categories in boxing, for the safety of the boxers and the fairness of the fights. Typically, a boxer will have an everyday walking weight that is heavier than their fighting weight category, and will drop weight in time for the weigh-in which usually occurs btn 4 and 36 hours before the fight (depending on the importance of the fight, and if it is amateur/pro. The time gap between weigh-in and fight is longer the more serious the fight, to allow fighters adequate time to recover from some of the more extreme weight loss techniques and rehydrate and re-energize.)
It’s competition season at the gym. Everyone is discussing weight categories, diets, strategies, non stop. I’m gearing up for my first fight in 2 years, and so I am in the midst of my own weight loss journey. It has come to my attention that the female and male boxers at my gym prep VERY differently for their weight. Here is a totally accurate, extremely scientific summary of how each gender makes weight.
6 weeks out: The female fighter will weigh herself furtively. Pretend it never happened. Start planning out her social calendar to see how many events she will be attending before her fight, and the nature of those events: will there be food? If so, what kind of food. Using that information, the female fighter will determine a reasonable amount of weight that can be lost in the 6 week period. Then, the female fighter will talk to Coach about her feelings: “Coach, I feel I should fight at X weight. I feel that will make me taller than the other girls, and faster. I feel that is what I should do.” Coach will ask her if she can drop that weight. The female fighter will start listing her calendar, the moon cycle, the levels of stress in her life, the situation at work, the weather as relevant factors. Coach’s eyes glaze over, and he never gets a yes or no answer to his question.
4 weeks out: the female fighter determines when her next period will be, and how the timing of it will impact her weight loss plan. Inevitably, it impacts her plan negatively, because inevitably, the female fighter forgot to factor in the entirely predictable, recurring bloat from PMS in her initial calculations for her reasonable weight-loss timetable. The female fighter shares her period symptoms (flow, number of shits, cramps, cravings) with all the other female fighters. Specific commiseration is reserved for the female fighters who are likely to get their period on the day of weigh-in.
3 weeks out: the female fighter posts hangry memes on Facebook and Instagram. She updates all her fellow boxers about each cheat meal/bite she has taken and frets that one cookie will derail her entire boxing career. She mutters reassuring half-sentences to herself, “It’s ok, if I stick to my diet, no more cheats, I should be ok. I’ll be ok. I just have to not eat anything when I go for brunch with all my best friends next weekend. I don’t need to eat anything. It’s my favourite restaurant – I’ve been there before; I can skip food this one time. It’s for a good cause.” The female fighter cuts all alcohol from her diet.
2 weeks out: The price of celery goes up across all grocery stores in the city. Every male boxer in the gym has heard about every female boxer’s weight loss struggles and is uncomfortably familiar with their menstrual cycle and impact on their body. At least one female fighter has had a freak out and questioned her place in the Universe, “If I can’t even be disciplined and stick to my diet plan for just a few weeks, what does that say about who I am as a person? I don’t think I have the mental fortitude to be a fighter. Maybe I should move up a weight category. I don’t WANT to move up a weight category: I like MY weight category. I’m just immature, I lack dedication. A grown-ass woman should be able to survive without chocolate or candy for a few weeks, no?! But I LIKE chocolate and candy. This sport is stupid.”
Daily for 2 weeks straight: the female fighter will weigh herself 1-4 times a day, and can guesstimate her fluctuations due to clothes, time of day, mood, and humidity. She’ll do daily cardio sessions, talk about her weight to coworkers, friends, teammates, strangers on the bus, and her cat.
Day of the weigh-in: the female fighter will abstain from food or liquids and weigh in at +/- 0.25lbs, stripped down to her underwear. The female fighter will then look at a protein bar or banana and promptly regain 5lbs.
At some point in the 3-4 weeks leading up to a fight, while they are sitting around joking with their teammates, one of them will perk up, turn to Coach and ask, “Hey Coach, am I fighting in (choose one) weight category? Yeah? Ok. I should probably drop 15lbs then”.
3 days later: “Coach, I lost 7lbs. I ate a veggie.”
1 week before the fight: “Oh, I’m still 8lbs overweight. I guess I’ll cut out alcohol from my diet.”
Day of the weigh-in: makes weight with a 2lb buffer.
GENDER INEQUALITY IS A THING Y’ALL. THIS PROVES IT.