Skirts or Shorts? The debate continues

Updated: November 24, 2011

Most of the attention at the Media briefing at London’s Excel Centre centred round the vexed issue of whether or not the female competitors will be instructed to wear skirts at the 2012 Olympic Games following the January review by the AIBA’s predominantly male, rules and competition committee . What do the boxers think?

As reported in SportsNewsIreland recently world champion lightweight Katie Taylor (who is not here at Excel) has been vociferous in her opposition to the imposition of any such new rule change:

“I won’t be wearing a mini-skirt. I don’t even wear mini-skirts on a night out, so I definitely won’t be wearing mini-skirts in the ring” . On last month’s European Championships in Rotterdam she said: “It’s a disgrace that they’re forcing some of the women to wear those mini-skirts. We should be able to wear shorts, just like the men”. You may recall that the AIBA’s President, Dr C.K.Wu had said : ““I have heard many times, people say, ‘We can’t tell the difference between the men and the women,’ especially on TV, since they’re in the same uniforms and are wearing headgear.”

Certainly from what I gathered from talking with competitors here at Excel , few are in favour of wearing skirts rather than shorts . Typical reaction came from the UK’s 4 times ABAE Champion, Liverpool’s Natasha Jonas : “’There should be a choice – no one should be forced to do anything,’ she said. ‘In other sports like football and cricket, you aren’t forced to wear skirts so I don’t see why boxing should have to.

‘For me, it doesn’t seem practical. I know there are girls in AIBA who wear skirts all the time. But psychologically, I don’t feel comfortable wearing one.’

AIBA’s Communications Director, Sebastien Gillot, believes that under no circumstances will wearing skirts be compulsory for female boxers next summer, and that the organization is simply sounding out opinion from the national federations and the wider public. Privately though the AIBA will have been very surprised , indeed shocked, at the volume of complaints and negative comments received from the public and boxers alike, and even the media , which grew considerably after the Polish team were forced to wear skirts at the European Championships in Rotterdam.

My own view remains, as before, that this is purely a matter of personal choice and should remain so. Equally it would be wrong to suggest that there is no support at all among the competitors, Canada’s three times world 75kg middleweight champion Mary Spencer has worn skirts in the World Championships in Barbados in 2010.

“I actually wore a skirt at the world championship last year “. “ I found them to be much more comfortable than shorts — surprisingly — I didn’t expect them to.”

“There’s different kinds of skirts,” she said. “If you watch my final at the world championships, my opponent and I both had skirts on. She had a shorter one and I had a longer one.
“I guess it’s just preference.”

“To me the short skirt and the short shorts both look a little odd,” “It’s not the style that I would go for. I like the longer shorts or when I’m in the skirt, the longer skirt.”

Women’s Boxing, dear Dr Wu, is NOT beach volleyball – but it is only right and fair that the competitors should be allowed to decide what suits them best. Hopefully common sense will prevail once the AIBA’s committee have review the issue in late January. And from then we can concentrate on the boxing – and do rest assured that this will be an Olympic Games which shows that women’s boxing is very much, here to stay.

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