Women's boxing split as governing body suggests skirts

By Jessica CreightonBBC Olympic sports reporter
Polish boxers wore skirts at the recent European Championships
Polish boxers wore skirts at the recent European Championships

Women's boxing has always divided opinion but now there are splits within the sport over suggestions that competitors should wear skirts.

The latest talking point is not whether women's boxing should become the newest Olympic discipline at London 2012, but what the boxers will actually wear when they compete.

During last year's World Championships, the Amateur International Boxing Association (AIBA) presented competitors with skirts, rather than the usual shorts, which it wanted to "phase in for international competitions".

AIBA asked boxers to trial the skirts, which they said would allow spectators to distinguish them from men,external-link but at last week's European Championships in Rotterdam only two nations - Poland and Romania - had taken on the alternative outfits.

Poland Boxing actually took it a step further and made it compulsory for their boxers to wear skirts, saying they are more "elegant".

"By wearing skirts, in my opinion, it gives a good impression, a womanly impression," Poland coach Leszek Piotrowski told BBC Sport. "Wearing shorts is not a good way for women boxers to dress.

"At the world championships in Barbados, Romania wore skirts from AIBA. We decided to design our own, they're more elegant."

While AIBA advises that its new uniform is optional and they have no plans to make it compulsory, some leading boxers have questioned the integrity of the suggestion.

Ireland's three-time world champion Katie Taylor, who won her fifth consecutive European lightweight title in Rotterdam, said: "It's a disgrace that they're forcing some of the women to wear those mini-skirts. We should be able to wear shorts, just like the men.

"I won't be wearing a mini-skirt. I don't even wear mini-skirts on a night out, so I definitely won't be wearing mini-skirts in the ring."

And British lightweight champion Natasha Jonas added: "Personally, I think it's more for the aesthetics; nothing practical is going to come from wearing a skirt. The only people who would want to see women in skirts are men.

"It should be the boxer's choice whether they want to or not. You shouldn't be forced to wear one."

Since the Amateur Boxing Association of England (ABAE) lifted their 116-year ban on women's boxing in 1996, women have always worn shorts similar to their male counterparts.

"It should be optional," said Britain's European flyweight champion Nicola Adams. "I don't think it's fair to say female boxers should be in a skirt; you don't see female footballers going around in a skirt.

"Boxing has always been in shorts. I don't see why it should change to skirts just because you're a female."