• Jess 'Jessy Jess' Lomax is a National Representative for Mixed Martial Arts (Supplied)
Women in combat sports get less spectators than men, less sponsorship and according to guest editor, Jessica Lomax, less recognition.
By
Erin Riley

8 Jul 2016 - 4:11 PM  UPDATED 8 Jul 2016 - 4:38 PM

While women’s sport competitions have been growing around the world over the last two decades, there’s one arena in which female athletes are often still eyed warily: combat sports. 

 

Perhaps that is most apparent in the fact that, despite boxing having been an Olympic sport since the beginning of the modern Olympics in 1896, it was only opened to women in 2012. 

 

Mixed Martial Arts fighter Jess Lomax, who fights under the name 'Jessy Jess', knows this problem only too well.  

 

“I think it’s mostly got to do with the fact nobody likes to see a female beaten, even by another female,” she said. “It just doesn’t sit right in society’s thoughts.” 

 

“All they see is the cage and blood. They don’t see all the hours of hard work and technical learning, all the behind-the-scenes stuff.” 

 

“All they see is the cage and blood. They don’t see all the hours of hard work and technical learning, all the behind-the-scenes stuff.” 

 

Lomax says she has a different attitude to the sport: that it’s testing yourself against an opponent. 

 

“When I’m fighting, I’m not out there to kill someone, I’m out there to defend myself and to test my abilities against an opponent in a controlled environment.” 

 

Despite this, female fighters still get far less support than their male colleagues.  

 

People are more open to watching a man fight than a woman fight, so when it comes to support, the only real support [female fighters] get is from their coach and their family,” Lomax says.  

 

“Whereas male fighters have friends, they have backing, they have everything they could need. They do have to work for it, just like women do, but with a male it’s more accepted. With female supporters, it’s a little bit more on the down low.” 

 

This has flow-on effects, especially financially, as sponsorship opportunities are not readily available for female fighters. 

"A sponsor needs to know that the person they’re sponsoring is going to be a drawcard. I think males have most of it, but the industry itself is still evolving. The more that everyone gets out there and helps, the more sponsorship we’ll get as well." 

“The sponsorship is quite limited, because again, it’s not very widely known. A sponsor needs to know that the person they’re sponsoring is going to be a drawcard. I think males have most of it, but the industry itself is still evolving. The more that everyone gets out there and helps, the more sponsorship we’ll get as well.” 

 

While people are rarely openly hostile when Lomax says she is a fighter, the responses are often negative.  

 

Most of the responses come back with well, we’re not going to mess with you, then or I suppose you don’t have a boyfriend,’” she said.  Little comments like that that they don’t think are negative, but with the female psyche the way it is, we tend to take it that way.” 

 

The ‘I suppose you don’t have a boyfriend’ comment is very illustrative of people’s responses to women in fighting: it suggests a woman loses her appeal if she is strong. What may have been intended as a light-hearted comment ultimately demonstrates one of those key resistances to women in combat sports: that somehow their toughness is unappealing. 

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Lomax says women are fighting back to counter this, though. 

 

“You can see, mostly through social media, women are slowly changing that and empowering each other. I see that in training other women too and sharing my core values and watching them evolve as well. 

 

There are a few simple ways to show your support for female fighters and help combat the idea that women don’t belong in the ring. 

 

Go along and watch!” Lomax suggests. 

 

Get involved in your own classes to learn a bit of self-defense. Go speak to them. Follow them on social media outlets, because that’s where sponsorship comes from mostly these days. Everything is online, so just get them out there and make them aware that you are a supporter of that person. 

 

As for the advantages of supporting female combat fighters? 

 

Mostly, I think they would get to see someone who has confidence and determination,” said Lomax. 

 

“They would see a female who feels empowered and is willing to put themselves through something that most people wouldn’t to accomplish a goal.”

 


 

 

Jessica Lomax is a National Representative for Mixed Martial Arts, a champion competitor in National All Styles and with a Black Belt 3rd in Bon Karate and has more recently made her mark as the pioneer trainer at 9Round Forest Lake. She is guest editor for a special edition of Zela articles and has written, commissioned and created content for readers around her passion of sport and her broader interests.

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