As female boxing gets ready to debut at the Olympics, some 46,500 + people have joined a campaign on Change.org demanding that female boxers be given the right to choose whether to wear shorts or skirts in the ring.
Last year, the Amateur International Boxing Association (IABA) suggested that wearing skirts would make female athletes look “elegant” and help “distinguish” them from their male counterparts; Poland and Romania went further insisting that their boxers wore skirts at the European Championships.
On Wednesday, the Amateur International Boxing Association (AIBA) is meeting to discuss the games and draw up recommendations, including suitable dress requirements.
Elizabeth Plank is leading the campaign on Change.org against the recommendation that women should wear skirts in the ring.
“I love boxing, it invigorates and animates every muscle and fragment of flesh in my body and I want to be judged on my skill, not what sex I am,” said Elizabeth. “This petition is not about a piece of fabric, it’s about athletes. It’s about their credibility.”
“If there’s one lesson I’ve learned through my experience as a boxer is that when someone throws a punch, curling up in the foetal position is not an option. You stand up and you fight. You don’t ask for power, you just take it. I hope lots of women will sign the petition before Wednesday and show the AIBA we’re not willing to throw in the towel before we’ve won the fight!”
Professional boxer Marianne Marston – who also runs women’s boxing classes
across London – is another supporter of the petition.
“I run women’s boxing classes 6 days a week. Most of these classes are for
beginners and for many women, boxing not only increases their fitness and
gives them new skills, it also boosts their self-confidence” said Marianne.
“Unfortunately it’s sometimes difficult for women to go into boxing gyms and
be taken seriously. As soon as guys see women in make-up and revealing
clothes then they begin to pay them unwanted attention. If female boxers are
forced to wear feminine apparel then this will create more problems in
“Prince Naseem Hamed boxed in skirts in the 90s, if professional male boxers
can wear skirts then female boxers should be able to wear shorts. I choose
to wear a skirt while boxing and that’s my decision to make. No-one should
be forced to wear clothes that make them uncomfortable.”
“As soon as you start objectifying female athletes, then you’re basically
reducing it to the level of a strip club. All female athletes should be
judged by their sport, not by how much skin they have on show.”
The huge popularity of Elizabeth’s campaign is likely to increase pressure
on the AIBA to drop the recommendation.
Brie Rogers Lowery, UK Director of Campaigns at Change.org, said Change.org
is about empowering anyone, anywhere to demand action on the issues that
matter to them.
“It has been incredible to watch Elizabeth’s campaign take off,” said Brie.
“She has recruited women from around the world who share her anger and she’s
making the AIBA take notice.”
In addition to Elizabeth’s petition, many thousands more have made their
views known to the AIBA HQ in Switzerland , by email, fax,phone call and
‘snail mail’ whilst many more thousands of boxers around the world (male
and female) have also communicated their views through their clubs or
The great majority support the sensible option which is simply that they
have the right to choose what to wear and recent words from AIBA President
C.K.Wu and the Association’s representatives at the London Prepares Test
event suggest that that is the most likely outcome. Any other decision would
inevitably cast a major shadow over the fledgling sport before the Olympics
and lead to many boxers withdrawing from the Olympics. Such a move would
almost certainly “seriously damage” the future of women’s boxing on which
the AIBA is banking will be one of the big success stories of London 2012.