Women used to have no good choices for boxing gloves: ill-fitting men's gloves or "women's gloves," which were men's gloves, but smaller and pink. Or women wore gloves made for children.
"If you're training for a marathon, would you wear shoes that don't fit? Women are really frickin' strong, so throwing a punch in a kids' size large is not going to work," says Lynn Le, creator of Portland's first boxing and mixed martial arts apparel line for women, Society Nine.
Le has a brown belt in Krav Maga, the Israel Defense Forces' hand-to-hand combat style, and taught kickboxing at Krav Maga Self Defense & Fitness in Milwaukie, where women made up more than half of her students. "What this sport is about is empowerment, and that femininity is inherently powerful," she says.
The wrong boxing gloves take away a woman's power. "The way they would throw a hook was compromised," Le says. "Women were adjusting how they were striking to conform to whatever they were wearing, which wasn't fitting them."
It took Le a year and a half of working on prototypes to perfect a women's glove. The product got Society Nine a shout-out from Amy Poehler's feminist blog, Smart Girls, and an invitation to the White House for the United State of Women Summit, where Le attended a fireside chat with Michelle Obama, Oprah and Joe Biden—plus ran into feminist icon Gloria Steinem in the restroom. Now you can buy Society Nine gloves online and at Bridge City Fight Shop in Tualatin.
But it turns out women are not the only ones buying Society Nine gloves. Recently, a lot of men have purchased the gloves, which come in smaller sizes. "I don't discriminate against guys who wear our gloves," Le says. "But if you ask me if we're going to do men's gloves, my answer is no."