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Women to Wear Skirts Boxing?

That's a jab to women's rights as Aiba pushes for skirts to be compulsory for female boxers

That’s a jab to women’s rights as Aiba pushes for skirts to be compulsory for female boxers

Just when womens boxing thought it was making progress, it’s been dealt a brutal double left jab right cross combo right where it hurts the most – between the legs.

Next year female boxing will make its Olympic debut at the London Games, but celebrations and preparations have been soured by a push by the Amateur International Boxing Association (Aiba) to have the competitors wear skirts in the ring.

I kind of thought if there was one sport you didn’t want to piss off then it’d be boxing and the girls aren’t happy. Apart from being sexist and demeaning, it’s simply not practical to wear skirts in the ring. When you have a pumped up fierce competitor with a deadly right jab breathing down your neck, the last thing you need to be concerned about or diverting your concentration is a flimsy skirt, spraying up and exposing your privates.

Surely not? Making women boxers wear skirts is like a throwback to bad old days

Surely not? Making women boxers wear skirts is like a throwback to bad old days

These girls have always worn shorts in the ring and it’s never been a problem plus, as Irish three-time world champion Katie Taylor said ,“I don’t even wear mini-skirts on a night out, so I definitely won’t be wearing mini-skirts in the ring”.

To add insult to injury the association supported its push for the compulsory skirts claiming they want to make it easier for fans to differentiate between the men and women boxers.  I’m sorry, would you like them to wear lacy undies and padded bras as well? I don’t see organisers trying to put track and field athletes, basketballers, wrestlers, kickboxers and the Chinese swimmers into skirts, so why this?

Football codes don’t wear skirts either and the situation does remind you of comments made by FIFA president Sepp Blatter, or to some, “Gaffe” Blatter, when he suggested that female footballers should wear shorter, tighter shorts to increase the popularity of the sport.

Last time I checked, it’s the girls who are the ones putting the trophies in the national sporting cabinet at the moment. Sam Stosur filled it with Australia’s first Grand Slam in a decade, Sally Pearson with every track accolade under the sun including “World Athlete of the Year”. The Matildas won the Asian Cup – a feat the Socceroos are yet to achieve, and our women’s Rugby Sevens won the World Cup – let’s not mention the Wallabies efforts in New Zealand this year.

But if you’re shocked to hear that, I’m not surprised, given the only women’s football code handed a decent amount of air time and prize inside backpages in papers at the moment is…lingerie football.

Now I’m not about to burn my bra, shave my head and call off my engagement here, but I have to say I’m pretty disappointed. Yes it is a ratings success and yes the girls are good athletes and more than just models in skimpy underwear but who’s watching it because of their sporting prowess? And who at the end of the show can tell me which side won? Is that even the purpose of the competition? We all know the answer to that.

Is this, though, what female sports have to do to get media coverage and acknowledgement from the general public? Sadly sometimes I feel this is just the necessary evil evolution female sports have to endure to get a show in sporting

These women didn't find their skirts so comforable

These women didn’t find their skirts so comforable

minds. Female sporting history and organisations don’t go back as far as the men’s, consistent generational change is possibly what is needed for the sports to develop within society like the men’s have, but that won’t happen unless women continue to push boundaries and lingerie football is not the way to do it.

Refusing to give in to Aiba in this instance, however, is. Although, it would be remiss of me to write this article without acknowledging the ironic twist, that most of us didn’t even know women’s boxing was competing at the Olympics until this skirts issue made international headlines.

Basically no one was confused about whether it was women or men’s fight they were watching in the first place and no one is going to watch these girls just because they now have skirts. It’s not going to attract more fans, people don’t go to the boxing to perve on girls, even if they look like Lauren Eagle….they go there for the sport, the skill and the athleticism. The competitors don’t want to be “differentiated” either, they simply want to be known as boxers, as athletes… not as women or girls.

First published in the Punch, 30 December 2011

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