Meet the Olympics’ First Round of Women Boxers

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This is a special year for female Olympians in many ways. Not only is it the first time every country has sent a woman to the Games, but it is also the first year that women are allowed to participate in every sport that men are; with the elimination of baseball and the addition of women’s boxing, women actually have access to one more discipline than men (synchronized swimming remains a women’s-only domain).

Women’s flyweight boxers Pamela Paoloa Benavidez of Argentina (L) and Mery Kom Hmangte of India compete during the Olympic boxing venue test event at the Excel centre in east London November 25, 2011. REUTERS/Paul Hackett (BRITAIN)

Among the inaugural group of 36 boxers (in three weight categories) are three women from North Africa: 29-year-old Moroccan lightweight Mahjouba Oubtil, 31-year-old Tunisian lightweight Rim Jouini, and 24-year-old Tunisian flyweight Maroua Rahali.

Oubtil will first go up against either Brazil’s Adriana Araujo or Kazakh Saida Khassenova on August 6 at 3pm London time, while Jouini is up against New Zealand’s Alexis Pritchard in the first round on August 5 at 3:15pm. If they win, the two women could end up fighting each other in the quarterfinals.

Jouini has medaled once, bringing home the bronze in her weight class from the AIBA Women’s World Championship in 2010.

Rahali, who has never medaled, will have her first fight on August 6 at 4pm; the flyweight will be up against either Poland’s Karolina Michalczuk or India’s Chungneijang Mery Kom Hmangte. Hmangte is considered a favorite, having brought home the gold in the AIBA Women’s World Championships in 2002, 2005, 2006, 2008 and 2010.