By Tom Degun

women boxing_in_skirts_17-01-12January 17 - Nearly 50,000 people have joined a campaign asking that female boxers be given the right to choose whether to wear shorts or skirts in the ring with the Amateur International Boxing Association (AIBA) Technical and Rules Commission set to make a formal recommendation on the issue at their meeting in Bangkok at the end this week.

Women's boxing will make its official Olympic debut at London 2012 but the controversial issue of forcing women to wear skirts has dominated the lead up to the competition.

All seven AIBA Commissions are meeting in Thailand this week but all eyes will be on the Technical and Rules Commission, which is chaired by Franco Falcinelli, as they will discuss whether women should wear shorts or skirts in the ring.

The Technical and Rules Commission will then make recommendations to the AIBA Executive Committee, who will make a final decision on the skirt issue in July although it is highly unlikely that they will overrule the recommendation of the Technical and Rules Commission.

Indications suggest that the Technical and Rules Commission will give female boxers the choice of what to wear after AIBA President C K Wu confirmed to insidethegames at the end of last year that "the most likely decision is that the uniform will be optional for women".

Such a result would please the thousand that have joined the campaign on for women to have a choice of what to wear in the ring, particularly Elizabeth Plank, the London-based amateur boxer who is leading the campaign which has over 49,000 supporters.

"I love boxing, it invigorates and animates every muscle and fragment of flesh in my body and I want to be judged on my skill, not what sex I am," said Plank.

"This petition is not about a piece of fabric, it's about athletes and it's about their credibility."

"If there's one lesson I've learned through my experience as a boxer is that when someone throws a punch, curling up in the foetal position is not an option.

"You stand up and you fight.

"You don't ask for power, you just take it.

"I hope lots of women will sign the petition and show the AIBA we're not willing to throw in the towel before we've won the fight."

Professional female boxer Marianne Marston, who runs women's boxing classes across London, is another supporter of the petition.

"Unfortunately, it's sometimes difficult for women to go into boxing gyms and be taken seriously," she said.

"As soon as guys see women in make-up and revealing clothes then they begin to pay them unwanted attention.

"If female boxers are forced to wear feminine apparel then this will create more problems in gyms."

"I choose to wear a skirt while boxing and that's my decision to make.

"No one should be forced to wear clothes that make them uncomfortable."

C K_Wu_at_Congress_Baku_September_23_2011
Wu (pictured), who is known as a strong supporter of women's boxing and played a major role in getting it on to the Olympic sporting programme in his capacity as an International Olympic Committee (IOC) member, admitted that the decision is up to the Technical and Rules Commission but that he is in favour of giving women the choice of what to wear.

"Some [female boxers] like skirts and some don't like skirts so I think we should keep the freedom for the athletes," he told insidethegames in November.

"But that is my opinion so it is unofficial at the moment because we must respect the Technical and Rules Commission and wait for what they decide from their research at their official meeting.

"It has become a very hot issue in the media but some of the reports are wrong because we have never made skirts compulsory or mandatory for women at all.

"Some people have maybe overreacted a little bit but I can confirm to them that AIBA has not made any final decision on the issue; that will come in January and be made public to all."

The petition is available to view here.

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November 2011: Exclusive - I don't want to force women to wear miniskirts at London 2012 says AIBA chief