One of South Florida’s crusaders for women’s boxing had reason to celebrate last week.
Bonnie Canino has played a noticeable role in keeping the sport relevant. The retired fighter and current trainer will become even busier now that women’s boxing will be an Olympic sport.
The 2012 Summer Olympics in London will feature women’s boxing, the International Olympic Committee announced last Thursday.
“It’s the talk on Facebook and Twitter,” Canino said. “Everybody involved with women’s boxing is extremely happy. This is one step further for women in boxing.”
Olympic women’s boxing will consist of three weight divisions — flyweight (106-112 pounds), lightweight (123-132) and middleweight (152-165). Each division will have 12 boxers selected after qualifying tournaments.
The inclusion of women’s boxing also led to a reduction of Olympic men’s boxing to 10 weight categories from 11 divisions.
“We wanted five weight divisions, but we can’t be picky this time,” Canino said. “In 2016, hopefully we’ll get more divisions.”
In addition to running Canino’s Kickboxing and Boxing Gym in Dania Beach, Canino has directed the women’s Golden Gloves National Tournament for the past five years. With women’s boxing now an Olympic sport, Canino expects an increase in participants.
“It’s given these athletes a new set of goals in a whole new arena,” Canino said. “Now they can aim for the attention that comes from participating in the Olympics.”
But Canino already noticed growth in the sport from her experiences with the U.S. team’s coaching staff at the world championships. Since the first event in 2001, Canino has seen an increase not only in athletes but also countries.
“Now you are seeing athletes representing all continents and coming from countries such as India and Turkey,” Canino said. “When we had the first world games, we were told it would take 10 years for women’s boxing to be considered an Olympic sport.”
Always active in promoting the sport, Canino spent the weekend in Washington, where she trained Dania Beach-based boxer Tera Scott at an amateur card. For boxers such as Scott, competing in amateur cards and tournaments helps cultivate the path to a coveted Olympic berth in 2012.
“The United States has a good chance of sending three boxers, but the competition is going to be fierce,” Canino said. “It’s going to be a hard road.”
But it is an appealing road to the sport’s pioneers such as Canino, who have kept the flame lit for women’s boxing during its formative years.
“It is a love for the sport,” Canino said. “I have been able to succeed in my goals of keeping it going further. There has never been a fear of looking back or at the obstacles in the way