“There’s a scene in T-Rex — a documentary that follows the middleweight phenom Claressa Shields from her hometown of Flint, Mich., to the 2012 Olympic Games in London and back again — The reps from Team U.S.A. are discussing her sponsorship opportunities. Team U.S.A.’s public-relations consultant, Julie Goldsticker, looks at Shields and says: I would love for you to stop saying that you like beating people up and making them cry. Shields’s brow creases. She looks completely befuddled. I box, she says.” J. Lowe, New York Times
ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key
Excerpt: Women Have Been Boxing in the Shadows for Too Long- By Jaime Lowe, The New York Times
“The paradox is clear: Shields cannot visibly enjoy fighting to succeed financially as a boxer. It’s a violent sport. If she were a man, that bloodlust, that taste for combat, would be courted. It would be used as a selling point to hype fights, as it always has. But for a woman to admit that she likes aggression, relishes controlled rage, thrives on ferocity and enjoys the feeling of gut-punches, well, that is unfathomable, or it seemed so to the Team U.S.A. reps.
They had no idea how to sell her, even after she was featured in a multimedia photo essay in The New York Times, profiled by The New Yorker, heard on NPR or highlighted in any number of other media appearances.
They could not figure out how to sell her in spite of her ready-made biopic childhood — a narrative riddled with disadvantage, abuse and sexual violence that ends in winning Olympic gold.
Just before Shields left for Rio, where she will compete again as a middleweight boxer, she told me: “People say the way I talk about boxing is too mean and too tough, but I do enjoy hitting people, or I wouldn’t be a boxer. I’m not gonna pretend that isn’t part of it or part of me.”
Shields went on to talk about something a lot of professional female boxers have mentioned before: that there isn’t support for women’s boxing on a professional level. Boxing’s biggest broadcasters — HBO and Showtime — have been reluctant to feature women’s fight cards.”
NOTE: Lessons can also be used with native English speakers.
Level: Intermediate – Advanced
Language Skills: Reading, writing, and speaking. Vocabulary and grammar activities are included.
Time: Approximately 2 hours.
Materials: Student handout (from this lesson) and access to news article.
Objective: Students will read and discuss the article with a focus on improving reading comprehension and learning new vocabulary. At the end of the lesson students will express their personal views on the topic through group work and writing.
I. Pre-Reading Activities
Stimulating background knowledge: Brainstorming
Directions: Place students in groups, ask students to think about what they already know about the topic. Next, have students look at the picture(s) in the text and generate ideas or words that may be connected to the article. Debrief as a class and list these ideas on the board. Students can use a brainstorming chart for assistance.
Directions: Students are to infer the meanings of the words in bold taken from the article. They may use a dictionary, thesaurus, and Word Chart for assistance.
- The paradox is that Shields cannot enjoy fighting to succeed as a boxer financially.
- The women’s bouts, were fought in the afternoon while men fought in prime time.
- At one point in history men’s boxing was being promoted as a barroom spectacle.
- In 1904, men’s boxing made its debut as an Olympic sport in St. Louis.
- During that time women’s boxing was limited to exhibition bouts.
- Boxing, if it was forward-thinking, would recognize that it needs women.
- The U.F.C.’s president, Dana White, decided to reverse a 2011 decision barring women.
- Other women helped launch this project.
- There is a lack of central authority to ensure that fights are well-matched.
- For centuries boxing has been a man’s sport, and when women popped up, it was treated as a novelty.
Directions: Place students in groups and after they have read the entire article, have them complete the following paragraphs taken from the article. They can use the words and terms from the list provided, or provide their own terms. They are to find the meanings of any new vocabulary.
To ___the___ between Hardy and Vincent, the ___and promoters ___the very thing Team U.S.A. was ___to suppress. The fighters stood toe-to-toe at a news conference…Each said she wanted very badly to___ the other ___in the face. Vincent ___me there was ___behind this, that the women always___ the ___with more action, more punching, more to prove. Breaking ___ceilings or in this case, fists and faces — seems especially___ in a year when Hillary Clinton is poised to be the next___.
WORD LIST: president, accentuated, trying, fighters, significant, publicize, passion, fight, punch, glass, fighter, assured, steal, show,
Grammar Focus Word -Recognition
Directions: Students choose the correct word to complete the sentences taken from the article. They are to choose from the options presented.
Boxing, if it was smart and forward-thinking, would realize/recognize that it needs/nests women (especially the Claressa Shieldses of the world) in other/order to compete with other combat/combative sports/spots that are dominating/domineer the market. It may be no accident that after a 1-minute-and-41-second technical knockout at the Barclays Center last month, the mane/main line of questioning for the victory/victor, the featherweight Amanda Serrano, was: Are you training in M.M.A.?
III. Post Reading Activities
Directions: Have students use the WH-question format to discuss or to write the main points from the article.
Who or What is the article about?
Where does the action/event take place?
When does the action/event take place?
Why did the action/event occur?
How did the action/event occur?
Directions: Place students in groups Have each group list 3 questions they would like to ask any person mentioned in the article. Groups share questions as a class.
1-Minute Free Writing Exercise
Directions: Allow students 1 minute to write down one new idea they’ve learned from the reading. Ask them to write down one thing they did not understand in the reading. Review the responses as a class. Note: For the lower levels allow more time for this writing activity.