On Friday, Reduxx published an exclusive story about female martial artists who refused to participate in a jiu-jitsu tournament after men took over the women’s category. The news sparked intense backlash, and in less than 24 hours after the article was posted, the North American Grappling Association (NAGA) amended its rule book.
The boycott worked. From now on at NAGA-sponsored matches, only females may compete in female events.
Riley Gaines, American competitive swimmer, speaks before Florida Governor and presidential candidate Ron DeSantis at the Greenville Convention Center on Friday, June 2, 2023. (MCKENZIE LANGE/ Staff / USA TODAY NETWORK)
Riley Gaines joined Charly Arnolt on OutKick the Morning Monday to discuss the massive victory for women’s sports.
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“It’s huge. That is what we have needed to see,” Gaines said. “We have needed to see girls [fight] back and look what happens when you do. It took 21 hours — just 21 hours — for NAGA to change their policies and protect women’s sports, prioritize fairness over inclusion.”
Gaines praised both Reduxx and the Independent Council on Women’s Sports (ICONS) for bringing attention to the issue.
A sign for The Protection Of Women And Girls In Sports Act outside the U.S. Capitol on April 20, 2023 in Washington, DC. (Chip Somodevilla)
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“Let’s be real: I don’t think a lot of people would know about this had someone not drawn attention to it because it’s jiu-jitsu,” Riley said. “It’s not a probably a high revenue, sport or anything like that. So a lot of people wouldn’t have known about this.”
But one small step for jiu-jitsu is one giant leap for womankind.
“Those girls who boycotted did so effectively that they protected not just themselves, but generations of women to come,” Gaines said. “I just think that’s how powerful it is.”
Riley Gaines gives a speech at Penn State. (Riley Gaines)
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Riley Gaines hopes the bravery of these athletes will inspire women across all sports to stand up for themselves, too.
“When the gun goes off, you don’t jump off the block,” she said. “That’s how you say enough is enough and really communicate the message that we’re not putting up with it.”