Le, founder of women’s athletic company Society Nine, is trained in mixed martial arts, has a brown belt in Krav Maga, and taught kickboxing for two years. She started Society Nine in 2015 after watching too many other companies hawking their lowest-quality boxing gloves to women by making them pink—that’s what girls like, right?—without adapting them to actually fit women or keep them safe in a fight. In the company’s original Kickstarter, Le suggested Society Nine was out to prove that way of thinking was dead wrong. In 2015, women already made up nearly 25% of a then-$50 billion combat sports market. “Make it pink” was bad for women fighters and a weak business model. Society Nine wanted to build something smarter, stronger.
Society Nine’s name is itself an homage to Title IX, the 1972 law that assured women equal access to federally funded educational activities, including sports. Just making men’s equipment pink and sending women into the ring wasn’t equality, and it didn’t reflect women’s power or potential.
Despite the rise of fighters like Amanda Nunes and Claressa Shields, and the crossover appeal of someone like Ronda Rousey, there’s been little philosophical discussion around what combat sports can do for women on a deeper level. “There’s less talk around what spiritually it can do for an individual and in the context for women in boxing, in combat sports—this desire to release as well as address and encourage that feeling of fighting in boxing and combat,” says Lynn. Sports, she continues, are a special way to manifest a feeling, not of helplessness, but rather ownership. “Ownership of your own body. It’s an ownership of your power, and an ownership of protection and security for oneself.”