For the first time in over 100 years, there are no Italian men representing boxe in the Olympics. Instead, there is Irma Testa, a woman. And what a woman. Against all odds, she made it to Tokyo 2020. Against all odds, the boxer got rid of Russian champion Vorontsova and then she fought off Michaela Walsh.
Irma also won against the Canadian Veyre, she didn’t stop. The Italian boxer made it to the semifinals. She is the first Italian female boxer to reach such a step. That’s already a win.
Who is Irma Testa?
She is a 23-year old from Torre Annunziata, in the southern region of Campania. Plus, she is a police officer who boxes in the 57kg weight category. Private and shy, Irma Testa prefers talking on the ring. She destroyed world records and she hushes the rumors and gossip. As a woman in a male sport, she had to fight even without gloves. But boxing was her calling.
“Boxing was my sister’s passion but I used to go with her to training,” said Testa to Gazzetta dello Sport, “and I discover it was my passion too. In the ring, I found my world, a world in which I felt good, between four walls, in my gym.”
With gloves on, Irma Testa grew and she became stronger, not only physically. Thanks to boxing, she could face the misogyny and prejudice. To fight off discrimination, she didn’t give up on her femininity. On the contrary, the Italian boxer feeds her inner woman, respecting her body every day. On the ring and off. And she was never scared of sharing her opinions, even on violence against women.
“Even the strongest women gets blinded by love and is at risk of abuse. You get used to violence as if it were daily bread. But you should react. First of all, we have to love ourselves, even before loving the man by our side,” the boxer said. While she wasn’t speaking from personal experience, she was speaking to many women.
Irma Testa was speaking to women who might not be as strong as she is. Or as strong as her inspiration, Italian swimmer Federica Pellegrini. Indeed, two powerful women who can bring a powerful message home. Perhaps even few medals. As she wrote on Instagram:
Now it’s women’s time, warriors inside and outside the ring. The time for show is over. Who believes in us has already won the bet.
Watch: the match for the semifinal
Watch: the match against Walsh
It’s 5-0 for the Italian (29-28, 29-28, 30-27, 29-28, 30-27).
The next appointment with the boxer is July, 31st, when she will face Petecio.