Olympic boxing authority to discuss women wearing skirts

The Canadian Press
11/4/2011 5:00:11 PM
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LAUSANNE, Switzerland -- Count Canada's Mary Spencer among the group of women's boxers who are comfortable with the idea of wearing skirts in the ring.

After winning a long fight to get into the Olympics, female boxers are at the centre of a dress code debate ahead of the 2012 London Games. At issue is whether fighters should wear skirts or traditional shorts.

"I actually wore a skirt at the world championship last year," Spencer said Friday. "I found them to be much more comfortable than shorts -- surprisingly -- I didn't expect them to."

Spencer noted that the skirts are not more revealing than shorts, since fighters wear tights underneath. She felt that shorts can be restrictive and hamper leg movement in the ring.

"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."

The International Amateur Boxing Association (AIBA) said Friday that officials will meet in January to discuss the issue and draw up recommendations.

"AIBA is seeking a consensus from the worldwide boxing family and the wider public for reference purposes," the statement said.

The federation said it was responding to recent media reports suggesting that female boxers would be forced to fight in skirts rather than shorts.

"AIBA has not made any final decision on boxers' uniform for women," the governing body said.

Spencer said the shorter skirts are the same length as shorter boxing shorts, which some fighters prefer over the traditional shorts that cover most of the thigh.

"To me the short skirt and the short shorts both look a little odd," she said. "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 will make its Olympic debut in London after being accepted on the program by the International Olympic Committee in August 2009.

Spencer is expected to be a medal contender at the Games.

The Windsor, Ont., fighter wore shorts at last month's Pan American Games in Mexico. She won gold in the 75-kilogram category and was named Canada's flag-bearer for the closing ceremonies.

AIBA suggested to its national federations last year that wearing skirts would help the women stand out from the men's competitions.

It brought to mind FIFA president Sepp Blatter's much-maligned suggestion in 2004 that female soccer players should wear "tighter shorts" to increase the game's popularity. Blatter's proposal was met with widespread criticism.

AIBA's idea has not found much support, either.

At the European Championships held in the Netherlands last month, only fighters from Poland and Romania wore skirts.

"I won't be wearing a miniskirt," Ireland's three-time world champion Katie Taylor told the BBC last week. "I don't even wear miniskirts on a night out, so I definitely won't be wearing miniskirts in the ring."

Spencer doesn't think that miniskirts will even be an option.

"If it's too short, get a bigger size," she said. "You don't have to wear a miniskirt. How can they force you to wear a miniskirt?"

The policy will be scrutinized again when London stages Olympic boxing test events Nov. 24-27 at the ExCeL arena.

Women are set to compete in three weight classes in the Olympics, with 12 competitors each fighting for flyweight, lightweight and middleweight medals.

Boxing for women was rejected as an Olympic sport in 2005 after the IOC said it failed to reach standards of medical safety and universality.

Boxing (Photo: Johannes Simon/Bongarts/Getty Images)


(Photo: Johannes Simon/Bongarts/Getty Images)
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