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Public Affairs : 2013 West Point Women's Boxing Invitational

Women’s Boxing ready to host, compete at inaugural invitational

Story and photos by Mike Strasser

Assistant Editor

Updated Feb. 8, 2013: Due to winter weather conditions affecting travel plans and scheduling, the Friday portion of the invitational was cancelled.

WEST POINT, N.Y. (Feb. 1, 2013) — The enthusiasm is so great it couldn’t be limited to just one day.

That’s the anticipation building as the West Point Women’s Boxing Club prepares to host its first invitational, Feb. 8-9 at Arvin Cadet Physical Development Center’s North End Boxing Room.

What: 2013 West Point Women's Boxing Invitational
When: Feb. 9, noon start time
Where: North End Boxing Room

Class of 2013 Cadet Giovanna Camacho, team captain, said the number of women wanting to participate poured in early and didn’t stop. The two-day invitational will feature more than 50 female boxers from across the country—the University of Michigan, Penn State, University of Massachusetts, University of Maryland and Rutgers University, among others registered to compete at West Point.

The site is the same as when the team made its home debut as a hobby club in April 2011 and hosted an exhibition in the cadet gymnasium. The team has since earned status as a competitive club through the Directorate of Cadet Activities.

“It’s going to be pretty awesome,” Camacho said. “We’ve come so far since our first exhibition. We’ve been able to promote this one a lot more and got more interest right away.”

Camacho, a California native, looks forward to seeing some home state boxers as well, arriving from UCLA and the University of San Francisco.

“There are teams from across the country flying in, so it’s nice to see some fellow Cali girls represent on the East Coast.”

For the West Point cadets, the chance to box in their first home invitational is an obvious motivator, Camacho said.

“They’re working really hard for this,” Camacho said. “I know a lot of them are excited to have a fight here at home.”

The website,, documents the many “firsts” for female boxers, including the introduction of the West Point club to the world of college boxing when it participated in the Maryland Boxing Invitational in 2011. That’s where Class of 2014 Cadet Kelsey Smith fought her first collegiate bout and won against Penn State opponent.

“I got into boxing for fitness; it’s a great way to stay in shape,” Smith, an environmental engineering major, said. “I think that has a lot to do with why people get into it at first; (then) they stay with it and actually fight because it’s challenging and rewarding.”

In 2012 the cadets traveled to California for the L.A. Collegiate Boxing Invitational—their first appearance as a competitive club.

“A major milestone, and our first success,” Coach Jackie Atkins, owner and trainer at Gleason’s Gym Jersey Shore, said.

The club launched a fundraising effort to afford the costs for the L.A. trip where Camacho earned a championship belt after defeating her opponent from Texas Southern University.

“Our team was able to bring home a belt and this was a huge eye-opener for our team realizing that we are capable of much more than we think outside Arvin Gym,” Camacho said. “Walking into the gym with the belt inspired the ladies to train harder, realizing that our training is preparing us for success. We just have to grab every opportunity.”

The idea of women in boxing gloves is not as attention-grabbing as women in combat is today, but there are still obstacles to overcome. Atkins, owner and trainer at Gleason’s Gym Jersey Shore, said the general attitude about women’s boxing changed somewhat after it gained international acclaim last summer at the London Olympics. It certainly seemed to help the West Point club’s cause during recruiting last semester. Camacho said 50 cadets registered for tryouts at the beginning of the academic year before the team was whittled down to an even dozen with a few in reserves.

The tryouts were intense, Camacho said, which included pendulum runs, a timed Indoor Obstacle Course Test, sparring tests and several heavy cardio workouts. They lost about 30 recruits after two days. But in its wake emerged a team eager to learn more and test their ability in the ring. Many of them will get that opportunity at the invitational. Atkins has been consulting with other team coaches to develop competitive and evenly-matched bouts.

With a huge turnout expected for the weekend invitational, team members and coaches have worked long after daily practices in preparation for the event. Camacho said the team is organizing and executing the event with support from classmates and other clubs. The cadet disc jockeys from WKDT are taking requests and compiling playlists for the boxers and the Glee Club is scheduled to perform the National Anthem.

To learn more about the West Point Women’s Boxing Club, visit

Class of 2013 Cadet Giovanna Camacho blocks a punch during a recent sparring session with the West Point Women's Boxing Team. Camacho is the club's cadet in charge and one of its founding members.

Ready to Rumble: The West Point Women’s Boxing Invitational, a two-day, all-female boxing event is scheduled 6-9:30 p.m. Feb. 8, and noon-3:30 p.m. Feb. 9 at Arvin Cadet Physical Development Center’s North End Boxing Room.

Members of the West Point Women’s Boxing Club train daily with the emphasis now on sparring as they prepare for nationals in April. Until then, the boxers can look forward to hosting their first invitational Feb. 8-9.

Boxers strike a pose
By Mike Strasser
Assistant Editor

WEST POINT, N.Y. (Feb. 1, 2013) — It was not a typical training day for the West Point Women’s Boxing Club. Eleven members laced up their gloves Jan. 29 but temporarily traded their boxing shorts and headgear for black evening dresses and heels.

 “Such a girl day,” one cadet commented as they fixed their hair and makeup in preparation for a team photo shoot.

That’s the idea, Class of 2013 Cadet Giovanna Camacho, team captain, said afterward. They may be able to throw and take punches, but they’re still women. And so they mixed up the poses with smiles and sneers (or glares, really) to reinforce this obvious contrast inherent with the sport of women’s boxing.

The coaches got in the spirit too. Jackie Atkins, a two-time National Golden Gloves champion, had no problem putting on a dress for the occasion. She travels from her New Jersey home sometimes two or three times a week to support the club. Atkins, who has been boxing since she was 11, learned about the cadet boxers when they were still a hobby club and wanted to help the team in achieving competitive club status, which they earned in 2012.

Coach Roy Rogers, with his passion for boxing and coaching, would have seemed otherwise out of place in this particular environment. However, in his black sweatpants and sweatshirt with the gold lettering “Army Boxing” along the sleeve, he fits the color scheme and obliges to partake in the shoot. Who says boxers can’t look good, he muses. Atkins agrees.

“It’s just a privilege to be here with the team for this,” she said.

The credit for this photo concept actually goes to the University of Notre Dame Women’s Boxing Team whose inspirational photo of similar design is featured on its website.

“I liked the symbolism behind it,” Camacho said. “When I first saw their picture I thought it was cool because they all looked so feminine but had that boxing attitude. So I really wanted to do this for our girls.”

The West Point version will be featured inside the programs at the club’s inaugural invitational, scheduled Feb. 8-9 at Arvin Cadet Physical Development Center’s North End Boxing Room.

After an hour of “Vanity Fair”-like modeling they returned to the boxing room and Rogers was back in his element.

“OK ladies, let’s get to business,” he said. 


Women's Boxing on Flickr: Click here to see the West Point Women's Boxing Club in action. The photo gallery will be updated after the invitational.

Women's Boxing Club profiles: Visit the club's website to see profiles of each boxer.

Women's Boxing on Facebook: Become a fan of the West Point Women's Boxing Club on Facebook and learn more about the club, their training and competitive events.