newsgirls PHOTOGRAPHS BY ANDREA CLEGG
Published by B&D Press Montreal, 2012. ÂŠ Andrea Clegg 2012 All rights reserved Printed in Canada ISBN: 978-0-9877606-9-2
a community-building machine Upon entering the Toronto Newsgirls Boxing Club – located in a warehouse on Carlaw Avenue in the East end of Toronto – you can expect to find something for everyone: classes and boot camps for boxers of all abilities; smaller and more individualized classes for those wanting to fight in a sanctioned match; as well as a number of specialized programs. The Shape Your Life program, a free boxing program for female and trans survivors of violence, has been running since 2006 and has so far graduated 600 participants. Another program – the PATH program – has been offered for over 15 years and “… is ideal for anyone getting out of a rut, at a crossroads and/ or in need of direction in life.” As Newsgirls founder/owner/coach Savoy ‘Kapow!’ Howe once said, “I can’t say we are a money-making machine but we sure are a community-building machine.” A regular newsletter informs members of events at the gym and highlights boxing news from around the world. One issue of the newsletter noted the successful organizing efforts of Eli Plank to reverse a decision by the Amateur International Boxing Association that would have required women boxers to wear skirts at their inaugural inclusion in the Olympics in 2012. The gym itself is scent-free, has a food box located in a discreet place for members in need, and this year a trans-inclusion policy was introduced which affirmed the rights of trans persons at the club. As well, the Newsgirls have been holding Fight Factory club shows since 2005 which feature an all-female/trans card and a large enthusiastic audience. For a number of years, Newsgirls members have staged a moving boxing ring during the Dyke March at Toronto Pride; two photo exhibits about the Newsgirls have been held at a local café; and the Newsgirls have been featured in numerous media outlets including CITY TV, Chatelaine and the Toronto Star. In 2012, the first ever Think Outside the Ring Newsgirls monthly calendar was published to raise funds for Shape Your Life, while at the same time increasing awareness about this important program for survivors of violence. Find out more about the Newsgirls by visiting www.torontonewsgirls.com
Megan ‘Viper’ Cooney “A couple of years ago I went up to the Northwest Territories to teach, in a place where there were many survivors of violence. Knowing how empowering boxing is, and with the support of the Toronto Newsgirls and the Shape Your Life Program,
Viper begins one of many practices on the road to her first fight (2009)
I was able to engage a community of women in the first ever, all-womenâ€™s boxing club in the north. And all it took was a couple of heavy bags and a pair of gloves.â€?
Viper on the heavy bag (2009).
Ali ‘Tank’ Smith “Boxing changed the way I move through the world. It taught me that size can be strength and power, that my body is a force to be reckoned with, and that I am stronger and tougher than I ever imagined.”
Tank takes a breath after sparring (2005).
SimonE ‘Iron Mayhem’ Lau “The year was 2011. As I stepped into the ring for the first time in my life, I focused on one thing – it’s great to be alive! When I started training at TNG the year before, I felt I was on the edge of an emotional abyss. I had to decide right then whether I wanted to break out or be complacent with a lifeless existence.
Boxing at TNG was the right choice. Pushing myself physically brought immense
emotional satisfaction. I started to let go and to believe in myself. Believing in yourself brings power that no one can take away from you. Be who you are, and become who you want!” Iron Mayhem moments before the start of her first fight (2011).
Jen ‘Scrapper’ Plyler-Danch “Even though I trained at the Newsgirls for a couple of years, it wasn’t until after I started competing that boxing really transformed me. I started to notice a new calm in me. I was more grounded and confident – at work, on the subway and walking down the street. It was almost as if every time I got in the ring something in the rest of my life would get easier.
Scrapper and Shadow Blow exchange punches during Fight Factory VII (2009).
Anna ‘Big Bong’ Willats “When I first got involved with the Newsgirls – must have been in 2000 or so – I remember how empowering it felt to be in a space with women (and later, trans folk). Since then I have attended boot camps and events over the years, but my favourite time is pictured here, announcing a Fight Factory event with an all woman/trans boxing card. I got to act out my inner announcer, with the drop down mic and a full house! It was so much fun!”
Big Bong as the MC at Fight Factory X (2010).
Andrea ‘Grizzly’ Clegg I started boxing at the Newsgirls in 1999 and began taking photographs there a few years later – I am grateful for the ongoing opportunity to explore both photography and boxing in a queer and trans positive space. I would like to thank Eloisa Aquino for suggesting and producing this project, Jenny Lin for the idea, and both of them for all their hard work in making this zine a reality. Thanks too to Savoy ‘Kapow!’ Howe for supporting this endeavour and for the invaluable contributions of all those featured in this zine: Big Bong, Iron Mayhem, Kapow!, Scrapper, Shadow Blow, Tank, Tiger, Trigger, and Viper. And finally, I would like to give a special thanks to my partner, Cheryl Donison, for always believing in my photography and for generously offering her time and talent in editing the photos. Partial proceeds from the sale of this zine are directed to the Shape Your Life program. Grizzly, self-portrait (2005).
A preview of a photo zine by Andrea Clegg, photographer and amateur boxer. Newsgilrs includes photos and testimonials of a Toronto gym exclu...