May the best sex win: Man vs. woman in the ring

The prizefight between McGregor and Chow will change boxing history forever -- take it from a guy who's strapped on the gloves and gone toe to toe with a "mad-dogging" female.

Topics: Boxing,

Boxing, called the “sweet science” by devotees with pinkie rings and cigars clenched in their teeth, is about to be changed forever. On Saturday, for the first time in history, a man will fight a woman — in the ring.

The event has ringside pundits like the Runyonesque fight writer Burt Sugar squirming like a man on the receiving end of a proctologist’s glove. The unlikely match-up in Seattle will feature a lean and slightly taller Margaret McGregor against a fellow named Loi Chow. McGregor has the better record. Both are lightweights. My money’s on McGregor.

Clearly there is more at stake here than another notch on either fighter’s win-loss record — especially for Chow. On Chow’s narrow shoulders rests the future of all dealings between men and women in bedrooms, offices and cocktail lounges across the land.

Unlike Chow, I know something about the reptilian confusion that can cloud a male fighter’s mind when stepping into the ring with a woman. I have strapped on the gloves and gone toe to toe with a female. It all goes back a few months, when I decided to try one of those “combat” aerobics classes that have sprung up at local fitness clubs around the land.

I’d done a little boxing as a kid back in Nebraska and had always been a fight fan, so one night I got off the sofa, put on my game face and hauled my paunch down to the club. Little did I know that my decision would put me on a collision course with psychic prohibitions deep inside my monkey brain. The instructor, a solidly chiseled former Angeleno with 12 amateur bouts under his belt, was running the class, in a deft bit of verisimilitude, like a typical inner-city boxing gym. “If you show up late again, don’t even bother coming in the door,” he barked at an unsuspecting newcomer who looked like he’d just left a corner office somewhere downtown. Things looked promising.

The pace and tenor were set. The whir and snap of 20 jump-ropes filled the room as the warm-up started. I forgot that I was in a plush, modern “fitness center” that cost several hundred dollars to join, and that most of the people around me were attorneys, dentists and brokers. I scanned the room. More than half were women. The class went through some punching drills, jumping jacks and push-ups in rapid succession. I was getting a workout — then things got complicated.

“Partner up,” the instructor shouted. The regulars paired up quickly, leaving me with the only available partner — a stocky redheaded woman who stood a head taller than me. “Get your gloves on,” echoed over the public address system. I noticed the woman’s intense expression as she pulled her gloves on over hands tightly wound in the wraps used by real fighters. I remembered an expression an L.A. cop once used to describe the hard stares gang members and prison inmates exchange to psyche each other out: “mad-dogging.” This woman was “mad-dogging” me. She figured me for a punk.

As I pulled on my gloves, I felt a creeping uneasiness. I heard my mother’s voice echoing inside my head: “Never hit a girl!” I pictured my sister’s face on the face of the woman who was at that moment squaring off with me in classic fighter’s stance. I admired her form. Her left was up, the gloves forming a tight pyramid under her chin. Her thick right arm was cocked and on the end of it the great mound of leather was hoisted like a battering ram.

“I want to create an environment so that people feel the intensity,” the instructor told me a few minutes before the class had filed into the gym. I looked around the room and spotted a husky guy who looked suspiciously like an accountant with a fading greenish-black eye standing opposite a pert Asian woman. They were smiling at each other. There was a twisted psychosexual menace in their gazes.

I was jerked from the mad rush of my thoughts by the start of a two-minute sparring session. My opponent, in black spandex trunks and red ponytail, began throwing darting jabs, most of which were landing on my forehead.

It was obvious to me that she had more on her mind than an aerobic workout. What I saw in her eyes was the naked aggression that could only have been fueled by bitter memories of ex-lovers and bad bosses. I bobbed and weaved, still hearing my mom’s admonition inside my head. My opponents’ jabs were landing with surgical precision, but I couldn’t throw a glove.

A faint grin hoisted itself onto her still-lipsticked mouth. It was like an episode from a Mickey Spillane novel, and I was playing the part of the cheap blond who gets slapped around. The seconds ticked by like hours. “I’m getting smacked around by a girl,” I muttered to myself in disbelief. The thought danced around my brain like the derisive laughter from a gang of mocking schoolchildren.

I forced myself to throw a punch, a low strike targeted to avoid any intimate part of her female anatomy. She came back stronger, with glancing jabs that rocketed toward my face and gut.

I worked upstairs, hesitantly at first, thrusting jabs toward her perfectly arched brows. And then something in me clicked. I realized that this was war — that my opponent, unfettered by any imposed social programming, was simply seizing my weakness. I threw a steady succession of blows as the final seconds ticked by, each thrust rocking her back on her heels.

The smile vanished from her face, replaced now by a grimace of concentration. We parried and danced, her face flushed with exertion as the final seconds drained away our remaining energy.

“Nice job,” she said, swatting my backside with her glove.

My money’s still on McGregor.

Jon B. Rhine is a writer living in San Francisco. He has written for Time, Newsweek and the San Francisco Chronicle, among other publications.

More Related Stories

Featured Slide Shows

  • Share on Twitter
  • Share on Facebook
  • 1 of 14
  • Close
  • Fullscreen
  • Thumbnails

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Hannah and Adam, "Pilot"

    One of our first exposures to uncomfortable “Girls” sex comes early, in the pilot episode, when Hannah and Adam “get feisty” (a phrase Hannah hates) on the couch. The pair is about to go at it doggy-style when Adam nearly inserts his penis in “the wrong hole,” and after Hannah corrects him, she awkwardly explains her lack of desire to have anal sex in too many words. “Hey, let’s play the quiet game,” Adam says, thrusting. And so the romance begins.

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Marnie and Elijah, "It's About Time"

    In an act of “betrayal” that messes up each of their relationships with Hannah, Marnie and Elijah open Season 2 with some more couch sex, which is almost unbearable to watch. Elijah, who is trying to explore the “hetero side” of his bisexuality, can’t maintain his erection, and the entire affair ends in very uncomfortable silence.

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Marnie and Charlie, "Vagina Panic"

    Poor Charlie. While he and Marnie have their fair share of uncomfortable sex over the course of their relationship, one of the saddest moments (aside from Marnie breaking up with him during intercourse) is when Marnie encourages him to penetrate her from behind so she doesn’t have to look at him. “This feels so good,” Charlie says. “We have to go slow.” Poor sucker.

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Shoshanna and camp friend Matt, "Hannah's Diary"

    We’d be remiss not to mention Shoshanna’s effort to lose her virginity to an old camp friend, who tells her how “weird” it is that he “loves to eat pussy” moments before she admits she’s never “done it” before. At least it paves the way for the uncomfortable sex we later get to watch her have with Ray?

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Hannah and Adam, "Hard Being Easy"

    On the heels of trying (unsuccessfully) to determine the status of her early relationship with Adam, Hannah walks by her future boyfriend’s bedroom to find him masturbating alone, in one of the strangest scenes of the first season. As Adam jerks off and refuses to let Hannah participate beyond telling him how much she likes watching, we see some serious (and odd) character development ... which ends with Hannah taking a hundred-dollar bill from Adam’s wallet, for cab fare and pizza (as well as her services).

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Marnie and Booth Jonathan, "Bad Friend"

    Oh, Booth Jonathan -- the little man who “knows how to do things.” After he turns Marnie on enough to make her masturbate in the bathroom at the gallery where she works, Booth finally seals the deal in a mortifying and nearly painful to watch sex scene that tells us pretty much everything we need to know about how much Marnie is willing to fake it.

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Tad and Loreen, "The Return"

    The only sex scene in the series not to feature one of the main characters, Hannah’s parents’ showertime anniversary celebration is easily one of the most cringe-worthy moments of the show’s first season. Even Hannah’s mother, Loreen, observes how embarrassing the situation is, which ends with her husband, Tad, slipping out of the shower and falling naked and unconscious on the bathroom floor.

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Hannah and the pharmacist, "The Return"

    Tad and Loreen aren’t the only ones to get some during Hannah’s first season trip home to Michigan. The show’s protagonist finds herself in bed with a former high school classmate, who doesn’t exactly enjoy it when Hannah puts one of her fingers near his anus. “I’m tight like a baby, right?” Hannah asks at one point. Time to press pause.

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Hannah and Adam, "Role-Play"

    While it’s not quite a full-on, all-out sex scene, Hannah and Adam’s attempt at role play in Season 3 is certainly an intimate encounter to behold (or not). Hannah dons a blond wig and gets a little too into her role, giving a melodramatic performance that ends with a passerby punching Adam in the face. So there’s that.

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Shoshanna and Ray, "Together"

    As Shoshanna and Ray near the end of their relationship, we can see their sexual chemistry getting worse and worse. It’s no more evident than when Ray is penetrating a clothed and visibly horrified Shoshanna from behind, who ends the encounter by asking if her partner will just “get out of me.”

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Hannah and Frank, "Video Games"

    Hannah, Jessa’s 19-year-old stepbrother, a graveyard and too much chatting. Need we say more about how uncomfortable this sex is to watch?

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Marnie and Desi, "Iowa"

    Who gets her butt motorboated? Is this a real thing? Aside from the questionable logistics and reality of Marnie and Desi’s analingus scene, there’s also the awkward moment when Marnie confuses her partner’s declaration of love for licking her butthole with love for her. Oh, Marnie.

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Hannah and Adam, "Vagina Panic"

    There is too much in this scene to dissect: fantasies of an 11-year-old girl with a Cabbage Patch lunchbox, excessive references to that little girl as a “slut” and Adam ripping off a condom to ejaculate on Hannah’s chest. No wonder it ends with Hannah saying she almost came.

  • Recent Slide Shows



Comment Preview

Your name will appear as username ( settings | log out )

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href=""> <b> <em> <strong> <i> <blockquote>