LONDON – As female boxing gets ready to debut at the Olympics, nearly 45,000 people have joined a campaign on Change.org demanding that female boxers be given the right to choose whether to wear shorts or skirts inmthe ring.
Last year, the Amateur International Boxing Association (IABA) suggested to its national federations that wearing skirts would make female athletes look “elegant” and help “distinguish” them from their male counterparts.
Women’s boxing will make its Olympics debut during the London 2012 games. On Wednesday, the Amateur International Boxing Association (AIBA) is meeting to discuss the games and draw up recommendations, including suitable dress requirements.
Elizabeth Plank, a London-based amateur boxer, 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 fetal 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 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 gyms.”
“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.”
Live signature totals from Elizabeth’s campaign: