Olympic boxing group mulls skirts for female fighters
Elite female boxers around the world are waiting to see whether they'll be forced to make their long-awaited Olympic debut in skirts.
The International Boxing Association (AIBA) is expected to meet in January to discuss the dress code for female boxers ahead of the 2012 London Games.
Skirts are slated to be one of the most contentious items on the agenda with AIBA officials discussing whether women should wear them in lieu of traditional trunks.
The consideration has some critics crying misogyny and accusing the Olympic boxing authority of pandering to male audiences.
But Mary Spencer, a Canadian boxing champion, said many are misunderstanding that the skirt debate is about the garment's ease not sexism.
"A lot of people who are not in the sport don't realize how practical it is so they make a big deal about it," she told CTV's Canada AM. "You could turn on Friday Night Fights and you'll see some men who are wearing a skirt because it's so practical."
Spencer, who wore a skirt at a world boxing championship last year, said she found the apparel to be more comfortable than boxing trunks.
Her rationale is that shorts are sometimes restrictive and can limit leg movement while going toe-to-toe with an opponent
As for the risk of being too risqué in the ring? Spencer told The Canadian Press that fighters wear tights under their shorts to prevent them from being revealing.
Women's boxing will see its hard-won debut at the London Games after being accepted by the International Olympic Committee in 2009.
Four years earlier, the IOC rejected the sport saying it failed to reach standards of medical safety and universality.
Regardless of what the fighters show up in, Karin Lofstrom said it's crucial that female boxers have a choice in what they're wearing.
As a representative for the Canadian Association for the Advancement of Woman and Sport and Physical Activity (CAAWS), she said she hopes that the boxes are given agency over their outfits.
"It's a choice," she said. "Some people may find it comfortable, others may have other reasons that they don't want to wear it."
Women in sport have been at the centre of several dress code debates.
Bikinis worn by women during professional beach volleyball games have been a sore point for several critics. More recently, some have taken issue with the skirts and dresses required for female badminton players at the 2012 London Olympics.
Responding to the current debate, Spencer stresses that male Olympic authorities have never demanded that she wear a skirt.
She adds that it was the female members of the boxing authority who were encouraging skirts at the world championships last year.
"I was never approached by a single man saying you girls should wear these skirts, not one," she said.