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AIBA must stop inequality between male and female boxers for the Olympic Games

Cette pétition avait 145 signataires

Female boxing got caught in the gears, making each advance a tour de force, while the male boxing is still moving forward. We can read in an article in Le Monde published on March 3rd that, "In Rio, from August 5th to August 21st, unlike female boxers, boxers shall wear no headgear". Since AIBA (International Amateur Boxing Association) recently proclaimed that male boxers will not wear headgears for Rio’s Olympics in 2016, and that the female boxers will continue to wear it, the media debates: will removing the headgear be bad for the health of men athletes or will it make it easier for them to access the professional level? A controversy in which no journalist has thought it necessary to take a stand against the inequality that is openly displayed between female boxers and male boxers.

The AIBA President said that removing the headgear is "something our boxers and boxing fans around the world were waiting for", meaning that the sport will adopt a more spectacular dimension and reach more people in the media. This is precisely one of the problems where their legitimacy stumbles: by removing the headgear, male boxing will be more accessible, disseminated, commented, which means recognition of their sport and major fees involved. Being exposed like that to the public, we assume that male boxers will see an increase in demands from professional boxing promoters. By maintaining the headgear for female boxers, they will be kept in anonymity, without visibility on television channels. They will continue to have lower grants than men (we are talking about thousands of dollars at the amateur level and up to several millions at the professional level for the same championship title) and they will never be able to make a living out of their sport. This difference, established by AIBA, is not based on any valid argument and only intends to maintain a distinction between male and female athletes. Let's remove the headgears for male and female boxers or let’s keep them. Then, only then, can we have a fair speech about the harmful impacts.

This new regulation, effective since 2013, and enforced for qualifications and for the 2016 Olympics, appears as a failure among many from the AIBA. This federation, which regularly crosses the lines, took advantage of the silence of female boxers who were busy training (this way they cannot lead a double battle), and the lack of female subjects to speak up in sports, to perpetuate this poorly disguised misogyny. Indeed, the female Olympics were admitted for the first time in 2012 as a demonstration sport, one hundred and eight years after male boxing took place in St. Louis in 1904. In the program, there were three weight categories for women (thirty-six fighters) and ten weight categories for men (250 fighters). Such a restriction prevented many athletes from attending. We reiterate that male boxers fight three rounds of three minutes, while female boxers fight four rounds of two minutes, creating a sexist space as soon as a woman puts one foot inside a boxing gym. The female boxers who managed to slip into a weight class were thus at risk: either a weight gain forced them to face stronger women who might seriously injure them, or a weight loss put their health at risk. The AIBA President said he wanted to "increase the number of categories in 2016 in Rio, but that the ultimate goal is to do it for the Tokyo 2020 Games", offering only two additional categories. According to his ambitions, by adding about two categories every four years, equality of amateur sport between male boxers and female boxers should happen in 2032.

We find it inconceivable that these inequalities - not even being concealed by subtlety - persist in sports and are reiterated by the media from Quebec and other places, who take part in the debate on the headgear at the Olympics without questioning the root problem. As long as the facts are not publicly and openly reported, AIBA will continue to establish its random regulations. Those regulations are based on gender principles and serve no purpose since the female boxers, just like male boxers, face opponents with the same weight, the same sex, and approximately the same level of experience. As we know, what bothers is the brutality being now associated with women, supposed to represent patterns of kindness; what bothers is the deformation of the female body, supposed to please the masculine eyes; what bothers is the physical force also found in the other camp and threatening the gains of the dominant, reminding that female boxers show the same strength, heart, and talent as male boxers. We demand a sports ethic where injustices will have no opportunities and where female boxers will shine with the notoriety they deserve.

Translated from french by Laurie Pelletier

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