Equality for Female Boxers in the Olympics

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Part II: AIBA 2014/15 The Good, The bad and the Questions Unanswered – WBAN invites Dr. Ching Kuo-Wu and the AIBA to respond
by Sue Fox and Michael O’Neill
January 12, 2015
Photo: Generic

(JAN 12) In terms of what may – or may not – be now proposed for WSB/APB, perhaps the AIBA could say which two women’s weights will eventually be included in season 6 (if any) and how many boxers will be involved? If only two (as is being suggested in some quarters) which two?

51kg? 60kg? 75kg or what?

Some sources actually do not believe that there is any intention of including women in 2015. Surely it is time to confirm IF every franchise will include female boxers and if so how many? Or could it be that it will effectively be just a Male WSB/APB with an occasional women’s exhibition bout thrown in? If that should prove to be the intention then why not simply call it MWSB or MAPB?

No head guards for men again in 2015 but not (yet) for women? That seems to be the suggestion emanating from the 2014 AIBA Congress. If so why the difference? What new (medical) evidence is there to support such an obviously contradictory decision?
If the evidence REALLY is there to support the removal of head guards for men (and there are many who doubt that it is) then why not publish this evidence in the AIBA News or distribute it via the usual respected medical journals? Surely the boxers themselves, their families etc. should know the good news? (or the risks being taken?)

Seems highly unusual in any walk of life that if something is deemed to make a sport ’safer’ it is denied to one group in this case female boxers. Indeed it could be said that it is putting women at greater risk of serious injury.

News media, covering the 2013 World Men’s championships and indeed also the 2014 Commonwealth and Asian Games heard many complaints that there was an increase in the number of cuts (without head guard). The AIBA believe that the contrary was the case yet again no statistical information or justification has been forthcoming – just the assurance that it is safer and there are fewer cuts.

There has of course been increased use of Cavilon – a moisture barrier cream which protects skin against body fluid and medical tape. WBAN is unaware of any specific detailed tests that would indicate ‘cut protection’. As some media observers reported from Incheon, there was even at suggestion at the Asian Games that it resulted in an increased number of cuts. The same comment was made at Glasgow’s Commonwealth Games. IF you are a boxer, coach or medical expert, what is your view on the head guards/Cavilon issues?

Well at least the issue of ‘short skirts’ for women is no longer an issue… or is it? Surely after the controversies which occurred in Barbados 2010 at the AIBA Women’s World Championships and again just prior to London 2012, this subject is no longer on the ‘agenda’?

Officials from more than one continent are of the impression that the AIBA are ‘seriously re-considering’ the subject and may even soon be proposing ‘ringside girls’ type ‘skimpy skirts’. Surely not?

Perhaps the AIBA Executive are suffering from a lapse of memory IF indeed these ‘reports’ have any validity. Do they not recall the furore of Barbados 2010, when despite protestations to the contrary later Dr. Wu told respected ‘Times Union’ boxing correspondent Michael Rivest:  “I have heard many times, people say, ‘We can’t tell the difference between the men and the women,’ especially on TV, since they’re in the same uniforms and are wearing headgear”. Boxers made it clear that any such proposal would not be acceptable.

As Ireland’s Katie Taylor said when the proposal was still under consideration in March 2012: “I don't even wear miniskirts on a night out, so I definitely won't be wearing miniskirts in the ring." In an interview in the Irish media her coach and Dad, Pete had given a clear indication of what would happen IF the views of women boxers were.

“She won’t box,” says Pete. “Simple as that. We’ve got morals that go above marketing.”

“It’s discrimination”. “It’s men making these decisions and it’s wrong. It’s just marketing. We don’t need the marketing. If they just let the girls’ box as they are, people are going to be amazed how technically good they are. The boxers were actually presented with a new style tight fitting vest and skirt at the semi-final stage in Barbados 2010 and told to wear them”.

At that time he commented:-
“They said to us, ‘You have to wear the skirts.’ I said, ‘Katie’s not wearing that.’ So he (the AIBA official) says, ‘If you don’t wear them, you can’t box.’ And I said, ‘Okay, so she won’t box.’ In the end only 14 wore shorts and many of those were under instruction from their own Boxing associations to co-operate for fear of being ‘marked down’ if they did not agree, or so it was widely reported.

As Michael Rivest said back at the time of Barbados 2010: “Handing women boxers a skirt has implications, and they aren’t good. When a political arch-conservative hangs a confederate flag from his house, he may not intend all the implications of that symbol, but neither can he disavow responsibility for the message he is sending. People get offended, and understandably so.

The comparison between sexism and racism is too rarely made, but it is apt. If Black Olympic athletes were asked to wear something – anything – on their uniforms to distinguish them from white Olympians, the world would explode in opposition, as it should. And what if that distinguishing mark was not a color, nor a stripe, but something much more provocative – like, say, shackles. It even hurts to write it.

Yet women athletes, human beings with prodigious talent and a ferocity of soul sufficient to have arrived on the international stage as fighters, are given skirts”.

Many in China already do so the AIBA may well wish to revisit the subject given the slightest encouragement.

Is Dr. Wu like his football friend and IOC colleague Sepp Blatter of FIFA only interested in increasing the number of male viewers using any means to achieve their aims?

Dr. Wu could consider an alternative which might make the male sport more attractive to viewers as it is already beginning to lag behind – why not have the male boxers wear skirts and see their reaction?

The ‘skirts for women’ issue should die. It was never endorsed by women boxers, nor by the women’s commission. It is NOT being re-considered, is it Dr.Wu?

Food for thought Dr. Wu? As always WBAN welcomes a detailed response from those mentioned in this article thus we invite Dr.Wu or AIBA Executive Director Ho Kim to respond to the points raised herein.

We ‘guarantee’ to offer equal space to the AIBA to put forward THEIR plans for women boxers in the period 2015-2024 and equally if any of our correspondents have misunderstood any issues then we would welcome the opportunity to publish the AIBA’s assurance.

And finally, what are YOUR (our readers) views concerning any of the issues mentioned in this article eg: AIBA attitude to women boxers? Only 3 weights again in Rio Olympics? Have the IOC and AIBA fulfilled the promises made by Drs. Rogge/Bach and Wu following London 2012? Or on the ‘skirts’ issue?

Strong views re head guards or lack thereof, concussion or cuts?

Email us at wban100@aol.com  com or contact via our social media accounts.

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