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Troubled American out to be first Queen of boxing
AFP
12:46 AEST Sat Aug 4 2012

American boxer Queen Underwood will look to put behind her the misery of years of child abuse by winning the inaugural women's lightweight Olympic title when the competition gets underway on Sunday.

The 28-year-old, whose father served six years in prison for abusing her and her elder sister, would provide just the sort of feelgood story to delight the authorities after lobbying to get women's boxing included for these Games.

In all there will be 36 women battling it out for three titles -- flyweight and middleweight being the other two.

Underwood and her two team-mates, flyweight Marlen Esparza and middleweight Claressa Shields, will also have the added incentive of succeeding where their male counterparts have largely thus far failed in winning medals.

Underwood, who was born Quanitta but prefers the nickname Queen, will have really earned her spurs if she even makes it to the last four.

For the cards did not fall kindly for her at the draw where first up she has highly-rated British girl Natasha Jonas, a world bronze medallist, and then if successful the intimidating prospect of four-time world champion Katie Taylor of Ireland.

However, victory in that bout would assure her of a bronze medal at least and prove a turning point in her life.

"I would close my eyes and just dream about having a different life, because I thought that if I had this thing, this success, I'd feel like I was at a point of starting over," she said.

"That dream carried me through a lot of days. I can be an example. I am a survivor of child abuse, and I became strong and independent."

For Taylor the gold medal will set the seal on a remarkable career and, according to her father and coach Peter, see her retire aged just 26.

"After the Olympic Games we don't know what she's doing. I'd like her to retire," said Taylor.

"She's been sparring with the lads every week and she has no kind of life outside boxing.

"That's what I would like to see but what Katie wants to do could be different. Whatever she decides she'll have the family backing 100 per cent."

The host nation should enjoy gold success as Savannah Marshall is world champion in the middleweight division aged just 21 while Nicola Adams has claims too in the flyweight category as she is the European champion.

Whatever happens women's boxing will remain on the programme for the next Games but President Wu Ching-kuo wants to see it expand in terms of numbers competing and for that to happen it has to be perceived to have been a success.

"How they perform here at the Games is very important. The IOC will also look at their performances and if it is excellent it will be my duty to ask for more," said the 65-year-old Taiwanese.

pi/dj

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