Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Canadian Spencer wants to wear skirt in Oly boxing ring

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LAUSANNE, Switzerland -- Count Canada's Mary Spencer among the group of women's boxers who are comfortable with the idea of wearing skirts in the ring.

After winning a long fight to get into the Olympics, female boxers are at the centre of a dress code debate ahead of the 2012 London Games. At issue is whether fighters should wear skirts or traditional shorts.

"I actually wore a skirt at the world championship last year," Spencer said Friday. "I found them to be much more comfortable than shorts -- surprisingly -- I didn't expect them to."

Spencer noted that the skirts are not more revealing than shorts, since fighters wear tights underneath. She felt that shorts can be restrictive and hamper leg movement in the ring.

"There's different kinds of skirts," she said. "If you watch my final at the world championships, my opponent and I both had skirts on. She had a shorter one and I had a longer one.

"I guess it's just preference."

The International Amateur Boxing Association (AIBA) said Friday that officials will meet in January to discuss the issue and draw up recommendations.

"AIBA is seeking a consensus from the worldwide boxing family and the wider public for reference purposes," the statement said.

The federation said it was responding to recent media reports suggesting that female boxers would be forced to fight in skirts rather than shorts.

"AIBA has not made any final decision on boxers' uniform for women," the governing body said.

Spencer said the shorter skirts are the same length as shorter boxing shorts, which some fighters prefer over the traditional shorts that cover most of the thigh.

"To me the short skirt and the short shorts both look a little odd," she said. "It's not the style that I would go for. I like the longer shorts or when I'm in the skirt, the longer skirt."

Women's boxing will make its Olympic debut in London in 2012.

-- The Canadian Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition November 5, 2011 C7

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