Queen Underwood was down, but not out when she lost to rival Ingrid Egner of Norway by just a single point in May. Underwood is a five time National Champion in women's boxing and ranked 4th in the world. However, due to her narrow loss at the AIBA World Championships, she missed out on an automatic bid to the Olympic Games in London and was forced to wait and see if she would be awarded an at-large berth. This week, the AIBA made the decision to grant an at-large berth to Underwood, allowing her to represent the United States in the Olympics.
Women's Boxing new to Olympic Games
It is appropriate that women's boxing is being debuted as an Olympic sport in the London Games. The first staged women's bouts actually took place nearly 300 years ago in London. In 1722, during one of the earliest recorded fights, Elizabeth Wilkinson, known as the Cockney Championess, defeated Martha Jones. These early fights were vicious. Women were allowed to hit, kick, scratch and maul their opponents.
Modern rules of amateur boxing help prevent the kinds of injuries women suffered in early bouts. Today, the AIBA governs the sport of amateur boxing, a sport that is growing in popularity among both young men and women.
Underwood's drive to win
Behind Queen Underwood's successful boxing career is a story of pain. She and her older sister are open about the childhood sexual abuse they endured at the hands of their father. Underwood fights not only for a gold medal, but to put the pain of her past behind her. In her own words, Underwood says, "One day, I'm going to be the "Queen of the Ring" and nobody will ever hurt me again. One day, I won't be 12 years old and feeling helpless; one day I'll be strong and unstoppable."
At age 28, Underwood is strong, and fans in the United States stand behind her in the hopes that she will be unstoppable in London. After this week's announcement of her Olympic berth, she is returning to the training center in Colorado Springs to continue preparing for the Olympic Games.
Underwood's personal motto is, "Can't Stop, Won't Stop." That's a great motto, if you ask me. She's relentless, not just in her pursuit of Olympic gold, but in her desire to help others achieve their dreams, too. She is an advocate for girls everywhere, and a champion no matter how she finishes in the 2012 Games.
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Tavia Fuller Armstrong is an Oklahoma resident and a lifelong fan of the Olympic Games with old photos of commemorative childhood haircuts to prove it.