"This will be the first Olympic Games in history to include men and women in all sports." This statement by Dr. Christy Halbert in her acceptance speech received a thunderous applause from the Olympians, leadership, sponsors and fans in attendance.
Halbert, this year's recipient of the esteemed Olympic Torch Award, joins past winners Gerald Ford, Bud Greenspan and Bonnie Blair. The Olympic Torch Award - established by the U.S. Olympic Committee in 1965 - annually recognizes an individual who has made a positive impact on the Olympic Movement in the United States and has made contributions to promoting the Olympic ideals throughout the country. Halbert received this award at the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Assembly, at the awards ceremony hosted by 2002 Gold Medal figure skater Sara Hughes, and with NBC's Bob Costas as the keynote speaker.
Coach Halbert says, "I am honored and humbled by this award. I feel it is a validation of the work that I and so many others have devoted to the women's boxing movement. It has inspired me to continue working on behalf of athletes." For 15 years Dr. Halbert has worked tirelessly on behalf of women boxers around world, not only to better the women's program at USA Boxing, but also to improve the visibility, skill level, and participation numbers of women's boxing worldwide.
Halbert has coached four multiple-time US Champions, served as a head coach for numerous Team USA events including the Women's World Championships, and Continental Championships where Team USA has brought home dozens of medals. In addition, Halbert has created initiatives for US boxers to improve their skills as they expand their exposure. Her book, "The Ultimate Boxer: Understanding the Sport and Skills of Boxing" is used domestically and abroad as a training tool, valued for its perspective that combines knowledge of boxing, and a thorough familiarity with the latest sport training technologies.
Her Commission and Committee work includes serving as the Chair of the Women's Taskforce of USA Boxing, Secretary to the Women's Commission of AIBA, and chair of the Continental Federation's Women's Commission. She has twice been invited as an instructor/coach for boxing's international federation (AIBA), development program "Road to Dream," as the only woman, and only U.S. coach, to serve. Most recently she was appointed Head Instructor in Antalya, Turkey, for the first-ever Junior & Youth Women's World Championships. Halbert says, "I was surrounded by young athletes hungry for competition, and for the opportunity to learn and excel in their sport -- boxing. I coached women boxers from Vietnam, Rwanda, Madagascar, Nicaragua, Syria, Afghanistan, and many other countries, who now have the opportunity to participate in boxing. The Olympic nod gives legitimacy to their athletic pursuit, and I often find myself reflecting on the effect their experience as boxers has on their lives beyond the ring."
Halbert was the primary U.S. advocate working to get women's boxing included in the Olympic Program in 2012. Author of numerous reports, documents, and proposals for USA Boxing, AIBA, and the International Olympic Committee concerning the propagation, improvement, and inclusion of women's boxing in the Olympic Movement, her work has included reports on the safety of women's boxing, the state of women's boxing in various countries around the globe, reports on top-level international competitions, and proposals for Olympic inclusion, finally culminating in success for 2012.
Halbert has stayed consistent to the goal of improving the state of women's Olympic-style boxing worldwide, and of improving the performance of US elite-level athletes. Says Coach Halbert, "All athletes deserve an opportunity to participate in their chosen sport, to reach their fullest potential in the sport of their choosing, to be respected in the sport they make their avocation."
Halbert lives in Nashville, Tenn., where she directs Boxing Resource Center, a non-profit boxing center dedicated to training youth and young adults in the art and science of Olympic-style (amateur) boxing.
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