I recently read an article about Katie Dallam (the "real" Million Dollar Baby) excerpted in Susan Cahn and Jean O'Reilly's new edited collection Women and Sport in the United States and I have to say, having been pretty ambivalent about boxing in the past, I now wonder why anyone thinks this is a good sporting option. The training indeed gets you into great shape and I see the appeal in working out aggression, but doing it competitively seems a little...extreme.
In a Thai women's prison though the appeal of participating in bouts between inmates is pretty obvious: if you win, you get out early. A convicted drug dealer recently won an officially sanctioned match against another prisoner and was pretty much assured of early release.
Curious and with very little knowledge of either Thai prison culture or women's boxing, I asked my Thai colleague what she knew. Nothing--she found it curious too as did all of the friends she made inquiries of.
Unfortunately ESPN.com does not do a good job (surprise!) of giving us much context for this match. It is very much presented in a sensationalist fashion down to the detail about the transvestites "in high heels and skimpy outfits [who] were allowed out of their cells to parade around the ring with placards at the beginning of each round."
I don't really want to end with this sensationalist detail myself but I am still having difficulty wrapping my head around this event and the reporting of it.