A Knock Out

A film by Tessa Boerman and Samuel Reiziger

Netherlands | 2004 | 53 minutes | Color | DVD | Subtitled | Order No. 05882


Boxing champion Michele Aboro grew up in South London, where life for a girl was never easy, let alone for a mixed-race lesbian girl. Thanks to her tenacious spirit and an uncanny talent for combat sports, she put her difficult past behind her and managed to sign a contract with the biggest boxing promoter in Europe. She won all 21 fights, 18 of them with a knockout - an exceptional achievement in women’s boxing. But despite her spectacular record in the ring, her career came to a sudden halt when her promoter broke her contract under the belief that she was not "promotable."

Refusing to vamp up her image and pose naked in magazines, this undefeated world champion was abandoned by an industry more interested in selling sex than sport. A KNOCK OUT interweaves Aboro’s personal story with interviews with boxers whose wild success strikes a painful contrast with Aboro's struggles. Searching for logic behind Aboro’s case, this poignant documentary captures a universal story of fighting for one's identity and offers a probing look at the intersection of gender, ethnicity, sexuality and the increased commercialization of women's sports.


“Demonstrates how hard it is not to compromise what you stand for in the face of sponsors’ demands, the importance of remaining yourself and following your passion.”

International Documentary Film Festival, Amsterdam

“Tessa Boerman and Samuel Reiziger outline, in an almost classically tragic life story of Michele Aboro, an image of a hyper commercial and frantic circus of professional boxers.”

NRS Handelsblad

“A compelling and revealing story.”

Vrij Nederland Magazine

“…weaves together a compelling mix of news footage, highlights of boxing matches [and] interviews with this articulate and extraordinarily gifted athlete…Highly recommended.”

Educational Media Reviews Online


  • Atlanta Gay & Lesbian Film Festival
  • Festival Vrouwenfilms Assen
  • Inside Out - Toronto Lesbian & Gay Film & Video Festival
  • International Documentary Film Festival, Amsterdam (IDFA)
  • New Festival- New York Gay & Lesbian Film Fest
  • Oakland International Black LGBT Film Festival
  • Out on Film - Atlanta Gay & Lesbian Film Festival
  • Out On Film - Atlanta Gay & Lesbian Film Festival
  • Outfest Los Angeles Gay & Lesbian Film Festival
  • Rhode Island International Film Festival
  • San Francisco Lesbian & Gay Film Festival
  • Seattle Lesbian & Gay Film Festival


Samuel Reiziger

Samuel Reiziger is a composer/musician and director of commercial videos. He worked as a researcher and programmaker for Reiziger in Muziek, an acclaimed music program on VPRO tv station. (03/05)

Tessa Boerman

Tessa Boerman is a Dutch filmmaker who focuses on the representation of women of color. She has made two powerful documentaries that highlight different aspects of beauty, ideals and belonging.A KNOCK OUT looks at the life of Michele Aboro, a black lesbian boxer who was very successful in the ring but was told that she wasn’t sexy enough outside of it; the promoters wanted to see a sexy vamp and terminated her contract early. Her film also implicates that the white beauty ideal does not stand alone but relates to broader issues such as everyday and institutionalized racism as well. Her second documentary, ZWART BELICHT, explores the historic representation of black women in paintings of Rubens. (8/14)


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