Barbara Buttrick vs Gloria Adams (lost radio coverage of boxing match; 1959)
On 1st October 1959, professional boxers Barbara Buttrick and Gloria Adams competed at North Miami Armory. Buttrick picked up the victory, in what is deemed the first ever female boxing match in the state of Florida. The encounter also received radio coverage from WCKR Miami.
Heading into the bout, Buttrick had not lost a match since 1954. Originally starting her career in her native England, Buttrick moved to the United States where she turned professional. In December 1952, she defeated Pat Emerick by decision, and overtime would gain a reputation for beating opponents considerably larger than her. On 9th September 1954, she lost to Jo-Ann Hagen at the Victoria Pavilion, which was the first match to be televised nationally and receive radio coverage. Despite this setback, Buttrick persevered, enjoying a strong run of form. She also became the first female world champion by defeating Phyllis Kugler on 9th October 1957 for the World Bantamweight Championship. This also culminated in her becoming the first female boxer to appear in boxing magazine The Ring, in 1957 and 1959.
Buttrick and other early female boxers faced obstacles concerning state restrictions. Some states outright forbid women from competing in contact sports altogether, with the Oregon Supreme Court once ruling in laws banning female boxing and wrestling in an attempt to prevent the "ever-increasing feminine encroachment upon what for ages had been considered strictly as manly arts and privileges". Arena venues would also sometimes reject women appearing on their cards. Nevertheless, state resistance against women's contact sports began to slowly dwindle from the 1950s onwards, with the state of Florida being one example. Thus, on 1st October 1959, Buttrick would compete against Gloria Adams at the North Miami Armory, the first women's boxing match in Florida. Additionally, the encounter would receive live radio coverage from WCKR Miami. While the Hagen-Buttrick contest was the first to be broadcast on radio, the Buttrick-Adams fight may well have been the first to be aired in the United States, considering that the former was aired in Canada exclusively.
According to A History of Women's Boxing, Adams was billed at 116 lbs. However, by the time she competed at the event, it was estimated she was more around the 145 mark. Thus, Buttrick would again be outsized in a match lasting four rounds. Nevertheless, despite suffering a hard "jolting left" blow onto her jaw in the second round, the Yorkshire boxer would maintain her composure and primarily control proceedings to take victory over Adams by a unanimous decision. Buttrick would retire from boxing in 1960 as an undefeated Women's World Flyweight and Bantamweight Champion, her last match occurring while she was four months pregnant. She had a professional record of 30-1-1, with her influence in women's boxing continuing via her founding of the Women's International Boxing Federation.
While the match's radio broadcast has been confirmed to exist, no audio from it is currently publicly available. In general, boxing match broadcasts between the 1920s to the late-1950s seldom survived, with only a few existing in archives like Old Time Radio Downloads and RadioEchoes. Nevertheless, a few photos of the encounter can be found online.
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- Women Boxing detailing the career of Buttrick. Retrieved 30th Dec '22
- A History of Women's Boxing summarising the match and other notable moments of Buttrick's career. Retrieved 30th Dec '22
- University of Sheffield summarising key highlights of Buttrick's career. Retrieved 30th Dec '22
- University of Sheffield noting Buttrick was one of the first female boxers to have a fight broadcast on national television. Retrieved 30th Dec '22
- The Urban Geography of Boxing noting Buttrick's appearances in The Ring and claiming her match with Adams was the first to be broadcast on radio. Retrieved 30th Dec '22
- She's a Knockout! detailing the extent of state restrictions in women's contact sports historically. Retrieved 30th Dec '22
- Women Boxing noting some arena venues refused to allow women to compete. Retrieved 30th Dec '22
- Florida News noting the Buttrick-Adams match was the first women's boxing contest in Florida. Retrieved 30th Dec '22
- Old Time Radio Downloads' archive of boxing radio broadcasts. Retrieved 30th Dec '22
- RadioEchoes' archive of boxing radio broadcasts. Retrieved 30th Dec '22