Last Woman Standing a compelling look at women's boxing
They hollered, jumped up and down, slapped some hard high fives. Their gold medal triumphs at the 2008 world boxing championships in China were something they could only truly appreciate and celebrate together.
They had been reserved that week around their teammates, who had not fared as well, not wanting them to feel as if they were rubbing it in. They roomed together for a reason – they were kindred spirits, singularly driven in chasing their Olympic dream.
As a story in today's Star details, the once close friends don't speak a word to each other now.
Spencer is a three-time world champion. Fortin is a two-time world champion. Only one can go to the Olympics.
Price and Lammers are in full production on the documentary Last Woman Standing, they're at the Canadian championships this week in Cape Breton, N.S., and will follow the two fighters through and just past the 2012 London Olympics when women's boxing debuts.
“They’re both incredibly driven they both want the same thing so badly that it’s very compelling,” said Lammers.
Both women are no strangers to boxing. Price has fought competitively and Lammers trains regularly at the same gym. It was Price who first heard about the story of Spencer and Fortin shortly after the Olympic poobahs decided to go with just three women's weight classes instead of five.
Price sees the battle Fortin and Spencer are waging against each other right now for the spot in the 75-kg class as more psychological than physical, but doesn't think their once close friendship is a factor anymore.
“They have to train themselves mentally to the same extent if not more that they have to train themselves physically,” she said. “Whether or not they are torn up about it, they certainly try to control those feelings in order to do what they have to do. They’ve done it on many occasions. It’s business.”
The documentary makers certainly haven't picked sides and display a fondess for both fighters, whom they describe as being very similar in a lot of ways as people – determined, incredibly clear about what they want, sweet and funny with an easy laugh but at the same time focused and driven.
Price says they're both good examples of sport building character and they see the documentary as a representation of women's boxing that goes far beyond the stereotypes. Lammers said they want to show people who are champions and that the athletes just happen to be women.
They've witnessed an incredible resilience in Fortin and Spencer.
“Especially Ariane right now, in the position she’s in, she keeps coming back to challenge Mary,” said Lammers. “That takes a lot.”
They went with Spencer to the Pan Am Games in Mexico, where she triumphed, and travelled with Fortin for training in Europe, where speaking to coaches from Holland and Sweden and Germany they learned that the situation Fortin and Spencer are facing is not unique.
“We want to look at the long term effects of what it means to be only given three weight categories for the Olympics, which is why they’re in this predicament in the first place,” said Price. “I mean they’re pitting world champions against each other when really they both deserve to go.”
Prospector Films are the producers. Price and Lammers expect to have the film done in the spring of 2013 and will be preparing a broadcast version for the CBC documentary channel and also a theatrical version.
It has all the elements of a great doc. Can't wait to see it. Plan to be First Man Standing in Line.