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European Premiere of "With This Ring" set for Oxford's famous Wolfson College on 17th May
by Michael O'Neill
May 13, 2016

(MAY 13)   We’ve seen a few documentaries of late - and about time too - on the subject of women’s boxing, both ‘Amateur’ and ‘Professional’. 

Photo: © With This Ring

One such new production will be of special interest to followers of USA Boxing since it features reigning Olympic champion Claressa Shields.

The storyline tells of how :“Seventeen-year-old boxer Claressa "T-Rex" Shields rose from the streets of Flint, Michigan to the Gold medal podium at London 2012, the first time women were allowed to box in the Olympics. But as we see in the coming-of-age story T-Rex: her Fight For Gold, life outside the ring may be an even tougher fight”.

This will be Premiered August 2nd – more details here on WBAN later.

Today we bring you news of another, which has its European Premiere in Oxford, United Kingdom on Tuesday night.

Film makers Anna and Ameesha with Mary Kom Photos: © With This Ring/Facebook

“With This Ring” is a real ‘labour of love’ produced by Ameesha Joshi & Anna Sarkissian and featuring boxers Sarita Devi, MC Mary Kom and Chhoto Loura . It was filmed in four countries (India, China, Barbados and the UK) between 2006 and 2012 and in post-production 2013-2016. It’s already had rave reviews in India though it’s a ‘’must see’’ wherever you come across it.

As Ameesha and Anna explain : “Indian society has yet to fully accept the short hair and track pants associated with women’s boxing. However, things have improved dramatically since we started making this film. In 2006, they were the best team in the world and nobody cared. At the London 2012 Olympics, Mary Kom became the third Indian woman in history to win an Olympic medal. Success followed overnight. Other boxers are also gaining recognition on social media.

The boxers spend most of the year at national training camps in various parts of India. We lived with them to document their lives and intense regimen.

Every month or so, they return home to their families. We followed boxers Sarita Devi and MC Mary Kom to Imphal, Manipur, in the northeast, and Chhoto Loura to Balsamand near Hisar, Haryana. We spent time in Delhi and Mumbai as well, interviewing athletes, coaches and officials.

We also ate incredibly well (maybe a little too well) and were warmly received by wonderful hosts along the way. They have this expression that a guest is like God. There's nothing quite like Indian hospitality”.

How did MC ‘Mary’ Kom get her name? Born Mangte Chungneijang, her teammates nicknamed her Mary because of her devotion to Jesus. She attributes her success to her faith in God. The name stuck and the medals have been pouring in.

Famed Indian sports journalist Sharda Ugra said : “There’s a big stereotype about Indian women. Great big eyes, long hair, docile and demure... and they’ll make chapattis for you. It’s remarkable that these boxers have come so far. I’m sure they’ve faced a lot of ridicule and opposition that they don’t tell people about.”

On the other side of the coin, sport brings its own rewards in India, unlike in many other AIBA countries where they have to find their own funds even if their air fares and accommodation costs are covered by their national Federation.

Ameesha again: “The athletes have considerable support from the Sports Authority of India. Their food, lodging, healthcare and education is covered. The facilities are not great but there are other perks: they travel extensively to international competitions with a full roster, which is rare. Meanwhile, the Canadian boxers we met were juggling 9-5 jobs and raising money to pay their way to the world championships” and the rewards, apart from their haul of Gold, Silver and Bronze?

Anna explains: “When Indian athletes become national champions, they are rewarded with stable government jobs. Many of the boxers have positions as railway clerks or police officers in name only. They collect a salary (and pension) but only have to show up for work a few days per year. This financial independence allows them to pay for their own clothes and their own mobile phone. Some end up supporting their husbands and extended family. “

For those of our readers in the United Kingdom why not ‘pop along’ to the University of Oxford | Oxford | Time: 7 p.m. Location: Leonard Wolfson Auditorium, Wolfson College, Linton Road, OX2 6UD. Free entry. Co-presented with the Women in the Humanities Programme, TORCH Oxford and the South Asia Research Cluster at Wolfson College. It promises to be a great event in the famous University city of Oxford.

And finally a clip from the documentary itself:

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