GLASGOW (Reuters) - Teenage boxer Taoriba Biniati has never fought another woman - only men - because on the tiny Pacific Island where she lives there are no other female fighters.
But that will change when women’s boxing makes its bow at the Commonwealth Games as, on Tuesday, she comes up against Mauritian fighter Isabelle Ratna in the lightweight division.
The 18-year-old, who has only been boxing for a year, arrived in Glasgow having never left the tiny island in the Pacific Ocean before, with a population of just 103,000.
“I probably have more confidence having not fought another woman,” she told Reuters. “The boys have to be serious in their training.
“I have no problem with fighting boys, so I’m looking forward to fighting a woman.”
Regardless of how she performs in the ring, Biniati, who accompanied the Queen’s Baton Relay when it visited Kiribati ahead of the Games, hopes to inspire the next generation of female competitors when she returns home.
“My friends are very envious and they want to start boxing because it is a good way to get recognition,” she said.
“I want to attract more women to the sport so I will start up a training camp for little girls when I get home.”
While a lack of ring experience may hinder Biniati’s chances of becoming the first person from Kiribati to win a Commonwealth medal, the competition in Glasgow will hope to build on its successful showing at the London 2012 Olympic Games.
Thessa Dumas, from Mauritius, faces Northern Ireland’s Michaela Walsh in the first Games fight on Monday before England’s flyweight Nicola Adams, who became the first Olympic gold medallist in women’s boxing, meets Nigerian Oluwatoyin Oladeji.
Adams is expected to be challenged for gold in the flyweight competition by young Indian Pinki Jangra, who beat five-times world champion Mary Kom in the qualifiers, while England pair Natasha Jonas and Savannah Marshall are also tipped to win gold in the lightweight and middleweight divisions.
Women’s boxing reaches its medal finale on Aug. 2.
Reporting by Michael Hann, editing by Tony Goodson