A local boxing pioneer was recently recognized for reaching new levels for women in the sport on a national and international level.
Jo-Anne Newman was inducted into the Carolinas Boxing Hall of Fame on June 3 in Charlotte, N.C. She was inducted as the first and only woman in the United States to certify as an international AIBA (International Amateur Boxing Association) boxing referee and judge in 2002. She represented the United States in four countries at international boxing events.
Newman became just the second female to be inducted into the hall of fame.
"It was emotional for me," Newman said.
Newman said her love of boxing, which she shares with her husband, Noah, began with their family.
"My husband and I had two children, a boy and girl, and whatever they got involved in, we got involved in," Newman said. "In 1976, my son decided to box, so we went to the Augusta Boxing Club, and from Day 1 my husband was with them learning to keep time and coach. I started off judging."
Newman took a certification class to learn how to score amateur events. By 1979, she judged her first national event.
Her enthusiasm for boxing reached a new level when she participated in the 1996 Olympics. She was one of the results control operators, working the computers as the scores were entered from the judges.
"The '96 Olympics is what got me started," Newman said. "I knew I wanted to do more. In 1999, I tested for continental AIBA and had the highest score. In 2002, I tested for international AIBA, the only woman who tested for world. I was able to travel to four different countries representing the U.S."
Newman retired from international events in 2009 because of her husband's health problems, but their love for the sport did not wane. They continue to run the North Augusta Boxing Club, which has a membership of approximately 60, she said.
"The reason we stay in the sport is we see firsthand how many lives of young people it affects," Newman said. "We just love the aspect of working with children."
Newman's induction into the hall of fame honored years of volunteer work to the sport of boxing, both nationally and internationally.
"Even though I won't be there for the women's boxing in the Olympics, for them to nominate me and put me in the Carolinas Hall of Fame preserves my lifetime of volunteer work, because this is all volunteer, you don't get paid to do this," Newman said. "It's important to have that memory to leave my family, and I am grateful."