Not allowed in combat, women in U.S. Army take on men in cage fighting to prove they have the right stuff
Mar 19, 2012, 1:21 PM EDT
It may interest you to know that the U.S. Army stages cage fighting competitions — they say is prepares soldiers for hand-to-hand combat in rooms or other tight spaces. And you should also know that, while women are not allowed in combat, they are allowed to mix it up with the men in these competitions.
Here’s Army Staff Sgt. Jackelyn Walker (pictured) pummeling Pfc. Greg Langarica like Moe whacking Curly. It was part of a cage-fighting tournament last month at Fort Hood, Texas, that included 300 men, and 25 women. In last year’s competition, there were only five women. The cage fighting competition began in 2008, when commanders realized it helped with recruiting.
The brawls are an outgrowth of mixed martial arts training that began in all-male Ranger units in the mid-1990s and soon spread to the rest of the Army. Tournaments were started on mats and in boxing rings at bases around the country.
One woman made it to the finals. But at least three female fighters were carried out on stretchers. Others limped to a green canvas tent that served as a first-aid station. One fighter burst into tears, upset that a referee had halted her fight before she felt beaten.
Unlike participants in Army boxing matches, cage fighters wear open-fingered gloves with thin padding and no headgear. They mostly fight barefoot, wearing camouflage fatigues or T-shirts.
Even though 109 service women have died in Iraq (all in non-combat jobs), the Army still bans females from fighting in combat. Some service women like Walker hope that cage fighting will help change that policy.
Alas, Walker did not become the first female cage fighting champion at Fort Hood. She lost her match.
Langarica was magnanimous in victory. He hadn’t beaten a woman, he said.
“It was a warrior.”
Denied combat roles, Army women battle men in cage fighting [Stars and Stripes]
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