A female former competitive boxer is slamming one of the sport’s top governing bodies over a decision to allow biological males to fight against women in the ring, warning that it will result in women getting hurt and opportunities being taken away from female boxers.
"When I heard that they were allowing transgender people to box women, I could not believe it," Cary Williams, a former female competitive boxer and Olympic level boxing coach, told Fox News Digital this week. "I know it's been going on in a lot of sports, which is not right on any level. But when you're talking about people punching each other in the face, in the body, in the head, I really was surprised."
Earlier this year, USA Boxing announced a fighter who transitioned from male to female can compete in the female category under several conditions spelled out in the rule book that involve what the fighter identifies as, hormone levels and the completion of gender surgery.
Williams told Fox News Digital this move will result in girls and women being severely harmed in the ring and told a story about when she was a 30-year-old fighter sparring with a 16-year-old male to prepare for a fight. She experienced firsthand the physical and biological differences between males and females.
"I was preparing for a fight, and, at the time, there were a lot of teenage boys on the boxing team at the gym. So, I sparred with a lot of teenage boys, and there weren't as many women boxing in the sport around that time. So, I was sparring with a 16-year-old boy, and you know they all still went light on me," Williams explained.
"Even though they were boys, they still went light on me, and he just threw, he flicked in a body shot and fractured one of my ribs. It was hairline but hurt like hell, and he didn't mean to do it. I just thought, wow, like the power behind a teenage boy.
"I couldn't imagine, you know, being hit by a grown man. So, yeah, that experience, it takes me to this whole other level of thought, you know, thinking if they're really going to allow men to go in there and box with women. That is just deadly."
Williams said she never thought in a "million years" she would one day be talking about men being allowed to fight against women.
"We’re living in crazy times right now," Williams said.
"There's just no way that a man should be able to come into a boxing ring and box with a woman," Williams added. "No matter what, if they're born a man, then they're a man. Doesn't matter if they have gone through transition.
"I think most of the people that I have communicated with feel the same way. But a lot are worried to speak out. You know, we live in a weird cancel culture, and so I think a lot of people don't want to voice their opinions on it, which is really sad because we need more people to stand up on this."
Williams says she has been "racking my brain" to understand why USA Boxing made this decision despite the Association of Ringside Physicians issuing a statement opposing transgender females in boxing based on the science. She told Fox News Digital the move will be a barrier to women getting into boxing.
"This is going to be a huge barrier for the young women coming up, the young girls coming up in the sport of boxing, because, first of all, boxing is a very challenging sport. Actually, ESPN did a study. It is the toughest sport out of all sports," Williams said.
"So, you look at that, and obviously you can get hurt. It's a little painful when you get hit, so you already know there's a lot of girls that aren't necessarily interested in getting into it. But once they do, they've overcome that part of it. Now, you're adding this layer of, ‘Oh, now you might have to box a boy or a man.’ You put that in front of them, and they're going to say, 'Well, then I don't want a box.'"
Williams acknowledged many athletes who speak out against transgender competition in sports have been maligned as "bigots" or "transphobic" but stressed the importance of recognizing "reality and science."
"For individuals to be emotional and base things off of ideology instead of, you know, actual reality and science, It's beyond my belief," Williams said. "I can't really comprehend what goes through their minds. But I'll tell you what, if they're going to say that I'm this, that or the other thing, the issue is if somebody decides that they want to transition, a man wants to transition to be a woman, that is a big decision in life, and they can make that decision.
"But when they make that decision, there are consequences that come with that decision. And one of them is that they cannot compete as a woman in the sport of boxing or any other sport. They have to take that into account when they make that decision in their life. I think that is only fair. So, again, it's just we all make choices in life, and there are consequences of the choices that we make."
Williams said if biological men continue to be allowed in women’s sports "we’re all going to be in trouble," and it will erase decades of work women have done to establish their right to compete on the big stage.
"Women are going to lose their space," Williams said. "Women, we have had to work really, really hard and for a very long time to have our space in the sport. A very long time. Why can't transgender athletes do the same thing? You know what? They can create their own space, but it takes time. You can't just go, 'Oh, I'm transgender. I want to box women.' That is unfair as well. You know, there are a lot of different layers to this."
USA Boxing responded to a request for comment from Fox News Digital by pointing to a letter it sent to membership explaining its transgender policy.
"The policy for USA Boxing provides a pathway for transgender athletes (gender identity or gender expression) to compete only if and when the most advanced stages of transition are completed and documented," the letter says.
"This means the athlete must be older than 18, they must have completed full surgical reassignment and gone through multiple years of hormone therapy, with four years of hormone testing proving their levels are within acceptable ranges according to the policy."