One of the boxing judges on duty at the Youth Olympic Games Buenos Aires 2018, Ramona Cobzac of Romania overcame the prejudice directed at her in the early stages of her career and is now one of a growing number of women who are making their way in a sport that was for many, many years the sole preserve of men.
The 38-year-old Cobzac has had to fight hard along the way. Yet despite all the barriers and resistance she has faced, she has refused to throw in the towel. Explaining how her association with the sport began, she said: “It was back in 2000, when I was 20, and the family of a friend of mine asked me if I wanted to be a boxing judge. They needed a woman to break into it and start opening some doors.
“My former partner was a boxer, so I knew the sport and I liked it. It seemed like a good idea to me, so I took the necessary courses and decided to give it a go.”
It did not take long, however, for others to resent her presence ringside, merely because of her gender. “I was discriminated against for being a woman, especially when I started out,” explained Cobzac, who also works for an electricity supplier. “The situation was very different to what it is now. Sometimes it came from work colleagues, coaches and even spectators.”
Having spent so long in the sport, she is well placed to comment on the giant strides women have been making in and out of the ring: “There are more and more of us in the boxing world now, both judges and fighters, and we all support each other.
“I try to help women who are just starting out in the sport, though it’s not as tough as it once was. I think we need to have our rightful place in society too, and I hope that boxing can empower women and give them the confidence they need to keep moving forward.”
Buenos Aires 2018 is a landmark event in the fight for equal opportunities for women. As the first gender-equal Olympic Games in history, it has seen exactly the same number of male and female athletes take part in its events.