It was a quick bit of women's work, and the victor, in breast protectors and 10-ounce gloves, jumped her trainer in a four-limbed hug to celebrate.
Behind her the crowd stomped the bleachers and called her name: "Mar-gar-et! Mar-gar-et!"
After two weeks of hype, two months' training and endless jabs from critics, Margaret "The Tiger" MacGregor easily defeated male opponent Loi "The Earthman" Chow at Mercer Arena Saturday night in boxing's first sanctioned mixed-gender match.
Each of the three judges scored the four-round junior lightweight bout 40-36 in MacGregor's favor.
Some of the 2,768 in attendance complained that the "Male vs. Female" bout was a mismatch, not a match. She was a punching machine. He was in duck-and-cover retreat during most of the bout, and made several complaints to referees.
"They should have gotten a better guy," said a disappointed Tony Prescott. "He did not represent the male gender. He was a whiner, a crybaby."
Chow, 0-3, stands 5 feet 2. A 33-year-old jockey from Vancouver, B.C., he usually fights at 115 pounds, but put on about 10 pounds for the bout. He complained afterward that elevated blood pressure--185 over 115--likely slowed him down in the ring Saturday night.
MacGregor, a landscaper from Bremerton, Wash., is 4-0, with one knockout. She stands 5-5, weighed in at 129, has a black belt in karate and is a former women's kickboxing champion. She has fought numerous men in martial arts tournaments, and often spars with male partners.
The match was approved by the Washington State Department of Licensing, which took over duties from the disbanded state boxing commission several years ago. Officials said they had no authority to prevent the match under the state's gender-equity laws.
Former state boxing commissioner Dale Ashley appealed to the governor. Men, he said, were supposed to open doors for women, not beat them up. Seattle radio talk jocks complained that the match was a freak show, boxing's version of "The Jerry Springer Show." One state legislator tried to stop the fight and Seattle Times columnist Steve Kelley wrote: "Call me old-fashioned, but I don't want to see a man hitting a woman."
Laura Vecsey, sports columnist for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, differed. "Whether you're appalled or intrigued, it would be wrong to deny her the right," she wrote.
The "Male vs. Female" bout was the last on a seven-fight card. The main event was a lightweight match between Tito Tovar and undefeated local fighter Martin O'Malley, who won by technical knockout.
But it was MacGregor's show from the go. She entered the ring to cheers and a soulful recording of James Brown singing "It's a Man's Man's Man's World." Lights were left on to accommodate the dozens of photographers and television crews covering the historic event. Under those lights, she jabbed and charged, sweat flinging off her short-cropped, sandy-blond hair, muscles massed beneath the tattoos on her back.
In a post-match session with reporters, MacGregor--who has talked about past stints in prison and drug rehab centers in recent interviews--said Chow was not her toughest opponent to date. That honor belongs to pro women's boxer Layla McCarter.
MacGregor said she had envisioned Saturday night's victory long before the fight, right down to the chanting crowds and the referee holding up her gloved arm. "It was like my dream come true, right before my eyes."
She hopes to fight in Caesars Palace or the MGM Grand in Las Vegas and said she doesn't care whether the opponent is male or female.
MacGregor, a childhood tomboy, said she was born for the ring. She held her hands up for inspection in the TV camera lights, palms out, long fingers spread: "I didn't get these big huge hands for knitting."