‘Making Weight’: The Perception and Impact of Weight Management on Female Boxers

Claire Mills*, Thomas James and Amy Hughes

‘Making Weight’: The Perception and Impact of Weight Management on Female Boxers.

At all levels of competition, it is common practice for boxers to compete in a weight category which range from ~48-90 kg and above.2,3 The purpose of weight categories is to compete with an opponent of similar size and consequently similar strength and power, but often the weight category agreed upon is much lower, between 5-10% less than natural body weight.

Boxing has long been a male dominated sport considered the last stronghold of masculinity within the Olympics.17 However, it has been argued that the sport actually empowers women by
blurring the boundaries between female and masculine traits.16 Furthermore, following the success of athletes such as Nicola Adams at the 2012 London Olympic Games, the number of female boxers
in Great Britain increased from 23,300 to 35,100, thus accounting for 18.5% of the overall boxing participation in the UK.18 Given the growing popularity of female boxing and recognising that
there is much evidence that both weight categorised sports and female athletes are at greater risk of developing issues with weight management and possible disordered eating, this is an area which
needed further investigation.

An intense focus on weight results in obsession, thinking about weight constantly, becoming anxious about weight and utilising various methods such as denying hunger to take control.1
The pressure to ‘make weight’ results in boxers experiencing such emotions and extreme actions. Similarly, to De Bruin et al,36 this research found that boxers like other weight related sport participants perceived their body as fat, became dissatisfied and suffered lower self-esteem

Sport Exerc Med Open J. 2022; 8(1): 21-28. doi: 10.17140/SEMOJ-8-187