“Katie” A Documentary by Ross Whitaker
More than an inspiration. Katie is a role model and icon for anyone who of dreams of greatness.
“Katie,” directed by Ross Whitaker is a documentary following Irish boxer Katie Taylor as she attempts to make the transition from amateur boxing to the professional level. The film deservingly won the Best Irish Feature Documentary award at the Galway Film Fleadh earlier this year.
As a child, Katie was born in a country where there was no such thing as women’s boxing. Yet, she knew that a boxer is what she wanted to be. So, she would box against the boys pretending to be one. Her hair tucked under her headgear so they wouldn’t know she was a girl. As she grew, she began to look to the Olympics. However, women’s boxing wasn’t allowed in the Olympics at the time. Katie was one of the people who spoke before the Olympic committee to get women’s boxing added, which happened in 2009. Already one of the most famous amateur women’s boxers by that point, she competed in the 2012 Olympics winning a gold medal.
This documentary is told through Katie’s eyes, the eyes of her family, and those who supported Katie over the years. We are drawn into her story as an audience rooting for her in each fight even though it happened years ago. Katie’s relationship with her father and coach is an amazing story to follow. All her life she had him in her corner with loving support. Same with her mother and siblings, who are all supportive of Katie. This story isn’t about overcoming family and upbringing it is about overcoming society. A society where women are not provided with many of the same opportunities as men and her unwillingness to accept that.
As the 2016 Olympics come around Katie was competing again. This time, however, she was dealing with some family issues. Even with the family drama Katie was favored to win but ended up losing in the first round. Taking some time off, Katie decided to make a comeback and transition from amateur to professional boxing. It is at this point that the film turns from a movie about boxing to a film about entertainment and self-promotion. At the professional level, she learns that it is not just about fighting but about showmanship. She has to not just prove that she can fight, but she has to prove that audiences want to see her fight. There were scenes in the locker room where Katie was the only women surrounded by men, and witnessing the way they treated her, even though they were on her side was amazing. If that had been a guy in her place it would have been totally different, but as a woman, Katie was being treated differently even by those who support her, in a way that I as a male felt was demeaning.
I went into this movie having never heard the name Katie Taylor before. Yet sitting there watching it, the hair stood up on the back of my neck in anticipation of the outcome. The amount of pressure Katie has endured over the years is inspirational. I currently live in Ireland so it was interesting to see the scenes of the Irish public supporting her. If there is one thing I have learned in living here, is that that Irish support the shit out of their athletes. It was impressive to see Katie get that same level of support from the public as any male boxer would.
To date, Katie Taylor is an Olympic Gold Medal winner, has won six amateur European championships, five world amateur championships, and she is still boxing.
Katie hits Ireland on Friday, 26th October.
Review by Milo Denison the author of “How to Manage Your Manager” available now.