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David Bathgate’s Photo Essay: Woman’s Boxing Teaches Skills for Life

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Women’s Boxing Teaches Skills for Life

© 2011 David Bathgate

“Train Hard, Live Proud” – No this is not the motto of the U.S. Marines or an elitist organization international.  Rather, it’s one of the motivational slogans of “Boxgirls,” a Berlin-based, non-profit program to empower women and young girls in the urban and often male-dominated worlds they live in – all through the sport of boxing.

© 2011 David Bathgate

Founded by Canadian Heather Cameron, a professor at the Free University of Berlin, Boxgirls teaches women not just fisticuffs, but builds levels of physical fitness and confidence that points women in the direction of success, both within the ring and out.

© 2011 David Bathgate

Conditioning is a big part of the program, cites Cameron, who is also the program’s head trainer.  Being in good physical shape is an important first step to building healthy self-esteem.  The skills needed for boxing have to do with thinking clearly and good decision-making “on one’s feet.”  Together, these are valuable assets to have in everyday life, too, Cameron says.

© 2011 David Bathgate

“A number of the school-age girls were doing poorly in their studies when they first came to Boxgirls,” Cameron described.  “Some were quiet and shy.  It was their teachers who tipped us off to changes taking place in the classroom. Transformations that coincided with what we were seeing in the gym,” she said.

© 2011 David Bathgate

Berlin’s Boxgirls membership currently boasts 101 girls and women.  Ranging in age from 10 to 54 years, they come from a variety of ethnic, social and economic backgrounds.  Three times per week the girls meet at a small school gymnasium in Berlin’s predominately Turkish suburb of Kreuzberg.  Outside the ring, most go their separate ways.  But when together, says Cameron, a “team effect” comes into play and each girl is working for the betterment of all involved.

© 2011 David Bathgate

Due to its success in the city of Berlin, Boxgirls has now taken root internationally.  Boxgirls-Nairobi, Kenya, with a current enrollment of 40 girls, applies the same training strategies to enrich the lives of African women through boxing – at home, school and in their careers.

David Bathgate is a photojournalist based in Germany. He owns and operates The Compelling Image, an online photography school. He is part of the widely acclaimed exhibit Wide Angle View at the Orange County Center for Contemporary Art, in Santa Ana, California, USA,  that runs from February 4 – March 26, 2011.

About Gina Genis

Hi Friends, I'm a photographer and artist who lives in Washington DC. I have two blogs. The Gina Genis Blog is about art and photography. My new blog, DC Discoveries is dedicated to showing you everything from fashion to art, food to entertainment in all sections of the District. I hope you will take the journey with me. I exhibit my work in museums and galleries across the U.S. I'm included in the permanent collections of the Sackner Archive of Concrete and Visual Poetry, the Otto G. Richter Library Special Collections Division of the University of Miami, Hard Rock Casino, Orange County Transit District, IBM, and the Sarah and Adam Markman Collection among others. My series "Window Peeping" was included in OsCene 2010 at the Laguna Art Museum, Truman State University, Fellows of Contemporary Art, Biola University, and solo shows at Gallery 825 and Cypress College. The "June Gloom" series was exhibited in a solo show at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. The "Kala" series has been exhibited at MPLS Photo Center, Cypress College, and Gallery 825. "Economy Portraits" was created as an Artist In Residence project at the Huntington Beach Art Center, and was awarded "Best Art Show of 2011" by the OC Weekly. I curated Wide Angle View, an exhibit of 16 international, award-winning photo and multi-media journalists at the Orange County Center for Contemporary Art to much critical acclaim. Recent reviews of my work have appeared in the Huffington Post, Art Scene, OC Weekly, Orange County Register, New University, Riviera Magazine, Coast Magazine, Huntington Beach Independent, and appeared on CNN, NBC, ABC, and more. I lead the Gina Genis Photo Workshops where I show beginning and intermediate photographers how to jump to the next level with their work. I also teach online photography courses through The Compelling Image.

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