Prof’s research project featured in documentary screened in NYC

A scene from the documentary Outside the Ring, which focuses on Prof. Cathy van Ingen's research project on boxing to heal victims of violence.

A scene from the documentary Outside the Ring, which focuses on Prof. Cathy van Ingen's research project on boxing to heal victims of violence.

A Brock kinesiology professor’s research program is the subject of a documentary screened in New York.

Cathy van Ingen, who helped start the Shape Your Life women’s boxing program in 2007, will also be interviewed in the 28-minute film called Outside the Ring, which aired Friday at the Shadow Box Film Fest. The film fest features boxing documentaries and films, including one narrated by Hollywood actor Liam Neeson.

“Boxing rings are refuges of sometimes broken people or people looking for change and going through a transformation,” Van Ingen said. “To have a collective boxing audience, these events sometimes produce unexpected things.”

The same could be said about Shape Your Life.

Nearly seven years ago, van Ingen walked into the Toronto Newsgirls Boxing Club with a grant from the Attorney General’s Office to start a boxing program for women and transgendered survivors of violence.

The project’s goal was to help participants heal from the violence they experience.

Van Ingen partnered with Savoy Howe, who runs the boxing club, and Joanne Green from Opportunity for Advancement, which works with socially and economically disadvantaged women, to establish Shape Your Life. Seven years on, more than 800 women have participated in the program and there is a constant waiting list of those hoping to step into the ring.

The effect of the program on the lives of women isn’t all that has struck Van Ingen.

“It’s quite life-changing for all involved. It’s three of us women running this thing and we’ve been able to keep it going for seven years, which is amazing,” she said, adding Shape Your Life continues to rely on grants and donations to operate.

Outside the Ring, which was produced, edited and scored by Green, shows project participants “unpacking the myth of women’s powerlessness, engaging their bodies and encouraging, celebrating and supporting their own healthy aggression.”

The documentary also tells the story of one program participant who eventually took her own life.

“It’s quite an intense, yet hopeful, short film,” van Ingen said.

The plan is to submit the Outside the Ring to several other film festivals in Austin, Texas, and Toronto for screening before making it available for sale as a fundraiser for the program.

Posted on December 6, 2013

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