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ESPN has just released a press announcement that 'Blackfeet Boxing: Not Invisible,' will premiere on ESPN on June 30 at 7:30 pm EDT

The documentary, follows a group of women practicing and training in self-defense as the epidemic of missing and murdered Indigenous women continues to threaten lives within their community -- is directed by Kristen Lappas and Tom Rinaldi.

It was recently presented with the Audience Award for Best Short at AFI Docs. 

Blackfeet Boxing Poster

Synopsis: The saying is common on reservations across America: A Native American woman who disappears goes missing twice; first, when her body vanishes. Then, when her story does.

According to the United States Justice Department, Native American women are ten times more likely to be murdered than non-Native women. More than one in three has suffered rape, or attempted rape, and more than 80 percent will experience violence at some point in their lives.

On the Blackfeet Reservation in Montana, these are not statistics. They are stories, of lives and families, of loss and pain. The numbers describe a crisis, but its dimensions are intimate and individual.

Frank Kipp, who was born and raised on the Blackfeet Reservation, and worked as a probation officer there, witnessed the damage to its women and girls firsthand. It scarred him, and his people. He decided to fight back, in the way he most understood. In 2003, Kipp—a former welterweight who won 38 bouts as an amateur—opened the Blackfeet Boxing Club. The gym has trained more than 500 boxers on the reservation, but for Frank, over time, its most important fighters were the young women and girls, including his daughter Donna, who came in search of more than a heavy bag. They sought a way to protect themselves, and preserve their hopes.

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Blackfeet Boxing tells the story of one girl who never made it to the gym, Ashley Loring Heavyrunner. Her family still searches for her across the vast sweep of the reservation where she disappeared in June 2017, as her sister Kimberly fights for recognition and justice in the face of collective indifference from tribal and federal law enforcement and state and national government.

Blackfeet Boxing: Not Invisible trailer courtesy of ESPN

Ashley’s vanishing is context, and cause, for the girls at the Boxing Club—and the film tracks two promising fighters in their time at the gym. Donna Kipp, Frank’s daughter, is determined to qualify for the Junior Olympics, but faces challenges beyond her opponents in the ring, testing her resolve, and deepening her motivation, to prevail.

Mamie Kennedy is among the youngest and most ferocious fighters Frank has ever seen in his 18 years as a trainer. But Mamie’s greatest fight is symbolic of so many other girls on the reservation—as she struggles with deep family dysfunction, the temptation of drinking and drugs, and her own uncertainty as a boxer.

Blackfeet Boxing is a film about fighting—for respect, identity and acknowledgment. There are no scorecards or knockouts on the reservation. The prize at the Blackfeet Boxing Club is far more vital: survival.

Key characters

  • Frank Kipp - Third generation boxer of Blackfeet descent. Owner and lead trainer of the Blackfeet Nation Boxing Club. Former probation officer on Blackfeet Indian Reservation in Browning, Montana. Has trained over 500 boys and girls since opening the gym in 2003.
  • Donna Kipp - Fighter for Blackfeet Nation Boxing Club. Frank’s daughter. Bronze medalist at the 2015 Junior Olympic Nationals. Plans on becoming a trainer at the Blackfeet Nation Boxing Club now that she has graduated High School and will no longer be competing competitively.
  • Mamie Kennedy - Former boxer at the Blackfeet Nation Boxing Club. Qualified for Junior Olympic Nationals in 2018.
  • Serenity Youngrunningcrane: Boxer at the Blackfeet Nation Boxing Club.
  • Kimberly Loring: Sister of Ashley Loring Heavyrunner, who went missing from the Blackfeet Indian Reservation in June 2017. Now MMIW Spokesperson and advocate. 

Documentary stills

'Blackfeet Boxing: Not Invisible' premieres on ESPN on June 30 at 7:30 pm EDT