Tuesday, 8 July 2008

Amateur Boxing Association Guidelines for Women's Boxing

The ABAE Equity Commission
June 2008
1) Introduction:
a) Women have been boxing for centuries and records show that female bouts were taking place in London as early as the 1720s. Mostly, however, bouts confined to fairground booths and street entertainment. At the 1904 Olympic Games in St. Louis, women's boxing was displayed as an event. Although this signalled some acceptance, progress towards accepting women as boxers remained slow and women were not allowed to compete as amateurs until 1988.
b) The Amateur Boxing Association of England lifted the 116-year ban against women boxing in 1996 and is now fully committed to the development of Women’s Boxing. The world of Amateur Boxing will support, advice and guide providers of Amateur Boxing on how to include and provide for females.
c) Since 1996 Women’s Boxing has been a fast growing sport with opportunities being developed and created for participation and competition. As of March 2008, there were 508 registered female boxers and this is set to grow. Women are also interested in undertaking a variety of roles within Boxing such as officiating, coaching and various other voluntary roles.
d) Due to the fact that Women’s Boxing is relatively new it has and will provide challenges and pose questions. The Amateur Boxing Association of England is committed to ensuring females gain a positive experience in and through Boxing. These guidelines have therefore, been produced to enable providers of Amateur Boxing with information and advice ensuring that women can safely participate and be successful in and through the sport whether it be to gain skills through volunteering, achieve world level success in competition or to gain self esteem, confidence and benefits from excellent dynamic physical activity.
2) Overriding principles:
The Amateur Boxing Association of England is committed to Equality and Child Protection.
a) Equality:
“The ABAE shall ensure that all communities have the opportunity to participate in the sport of amateur boxing and we shall not tolerate discrimination, harassment or other unfair treatment in any form. Systems, procedures and an open culture will be developed to guard against this.”
(Amateur Boxing Association of England Equity Policy)
i) This statement is fundamental to the development of Women’s Boxing. There are many examples, past and present, of clubs / providers / organisations resisting or attempting to prevent women from taking part in Boxing. The ban has been lifted in England, and the Amateur Boxing Association of England is currently going for the third level of the Equality Standard. The commitment is clear that women are to be fully embraced within the provision of boxing at all levels and within all aspects. Discrimination against women will not be tolerated by the Amateur Boxing Association of England.
ii) To achieve equality the Amateur Boxing Association of England has appointed the inaugural National Women’s Boxing Development Manager to support and develop Women’s Boxing including training, awareness and development of clubs.
3) Child Protection:
“It is the responsibility of every adult involved in Amateur Boxing to ensure that every child, young person and adult is able to participate in our sport in a safe and friendly environment. There can be no excuses whatsoever for any form of abuse and all such reported concerns will be rigorously addressed. All within the ABAE should recognise their responsibility to safeguard the welfare of all children, young people and adults by protecting them from all forms of emotional, physical, sexual abuse and neglect. This includes bullying.
a) All children and young people should be valued and treated with equity and fairness. The interests and welfare of children and young people is paramount and they have a right to expect the highest standards of care and this organisation will expect nothing less from those charged with this duty of care and protection regardless of the child’s age, culture, disability, ability, gender, language, racial origin, religious belief or sexual identity.”
(Amateur Boxing Association of England Child Protection Policy and Procedures)
b) The welfare and safeguarding of women and girls is essential. Boxing was traditionally a male dominated environment and as such women and girls can be classed as potentially more vulnerable by low representation. It is essential that all Child Protection Policies and Procedures are executed equally for both genders.
4) Guidelines
a) Inclusion and equal opportunities
i) Women’s Boxing participation has seen a dramatic increase; however women and girls still only comprise of 3.7% of the total boxing population. This is not representative of the general population which comprises of 51% women.
ii) In order to increase participation an ethos of equal opportunities and inclusion is vital. Equal opportunities can only be achieved if the world of boxing do more and act proactively to develop participation. For instance, women who do not currently participate in Boxing have expressed a lack of information and boxing not being seen as a sport that women can participate in as key perceived barriers. Collectively we need to change such perceived barriers by engaging our communities, being open and demonstrating that women and girls can start and develop in the sport.
iii) Many people confuse inclusion and integration. The two can be the same but also different. An integrating boxing scenario provides for everyone in the same way and method. An inclusive boxing scenario puts the needs of participants at the heart of planning and delivery.
iv) Many Boxing Gyms are open to anyone and operate within an integrated environment. Whilst this is extremely positive there may be some females who may find this to be a barrier. To explain this further, two scenarios e.g:
Example 1: A 30 year old woman who is obese and has not taken part in physical activity for some time. This individual may find a male dominated environment intimidating and she is highly likely to be discouraged from attending.
Example 2: A Muslim, 16 year old, female. Due to cultural beliefs this individual may not be allowed to take part in such activity with men present.
v) Given the 2 above examples an integrated boxing scenario will not meet their needs. Their needs may be better met with a different scenario that is inclusive as follows:
Example 1: A 30 year old woman who is obese and has not taken part in physical activity for some time. She is encouraged to join with a friend in a female only introductory course. Once she has gained confidence and improved in her fitness is given the opportunity to join other classes within a Boxing Gym with other women she has been training with.
Example 2: A Muslim, 16 year old, female. A female boxing coach from the club provides a weekly female only session at the club or in a community centre.
vi) There is no one size fits all answer with inclusion however; the golden rule of considering the individual needs and backgrounds of women and girls and catering for their circumstances is inclusive.
vii) We also appreciate that not all Boxing Gyms have the physical and operational capacity to provide fully inclusive activity and may start with an integrated approach but we hope that Boxing Gyms will work towards such an inclusive ethos.
b) Welfare and safeguarding:
i) This document should be read in line with the Amateur Boxing Association of England Child Protection Policy and Procedures and ensure that all aspects apply within the policy and procedures for male and females. Some specific aspects have been included in these guidelines to provide more detail:
ii) Physical contact as a means of demonstrative coaching is often used by coaches. This method can still be applied so long as the following is considered:
(1) Can other coaching tools be used such as videos, verbal explanation, demonstration, diagrams, and mannequins.
(2) Inform / ask the participant.
(3) Carefully position hands and only on body parts that are appropriate e.g. legs
(4) Ensure you can be seen by others e.g. coaches, spectators, parents
(5) Is a female chaperone present in the gym?
iii) Boxing by nature is a weight controlled sport. This has many advantages if the approach is for health related reasons. However, it is important to also consider the sensitivity related to someone’s weight. Eating disorders are a serious mental illness affecting 1.1 million people in the UK. beat[1] provides helplines for adults and young people, online support and a UK-wide network of self-help groups to help people beat their eating disorder. Actions, even if not meant in a malicious way, around someone’s weight can have an affect on someone’s perception of their weight even if they are not overweight in any way. For instance a coach joking with a boxer saying “Fatty, you need to lose some of that puppy fat to make the weight” or saying “you are looking a bit heavy”. It is essential that a coach considers how they approach a female boxer’s weight sensitively and positively.
iv) There are guidelines within the Child Protection Policy and Procedures on weigh ins. Women and girls must be safeguarded within the context of a weigh in and the following guidelines be applied:
(1) Like children, women and girls should be weighed in at separate times to men or in a separate area.
(2) Female chaperones should be provided.
(3) If possible those individuals who need to be present should be female and if this is not possible due to a shortage of females any males unfulfilling roles should not be present.
(4) Boxers should be told in advance to wear a swimsuit or tank top and shorts, rather than underwear.
v) The Travel Safe with Children guidelines should be observed for females. Key points being:
(1) General Staffing Rules - Where there are female athletes then at least one female supervisor should be present and similarly.
(2) Male coaches should not be taking female athletes to tournaments or events on their own without a female chaperone. However, this is not a reason to prevent a female from competing. Clubs should consider solutions to finding a chaperone whether it be a family member of the athlete or a female volunteer in the club.
c) Safety in Boxing
i) Some people mistakenly perceive amateur boxing as a 'dangerous sport', Medical research and data shows a completely different story. Amateur boxing goes to great lengths to protect its athletes. Women amateur boxers must wear a mouth guard at all times, wear protective hand bandages, force absorbent head gear and a shirt to absorb sweat. Women boxers are also recommended to wear breast protectors and crotch protectors.
ii) Female boxers must bring a signed Pregnancy Declaration to the first medical examination at a tournament, declaring that she is not pregnant. The declaration must be maximum 14 days old when signed.
iii) Suppliers of women’s boxing safety equipment include:
(1) TOP Ten (http://www.toptencanada.com/store/shopping.php?category=1&sub=21)

Sports Bra with Inserts Description: The 'cool' choice for active women. Flexible plastic inserts in different sizes increase comfort while providing support and protection.
Protective Sports-Bra Inserts Description: Flexible plastic insert comes in different sizes.Increase comfort while providing maximum protection against hard blows.
Female Tuck-Under Description: Padded female crotch protection from hard contact.

(2) Everlast (http://www.everlast.com/everlast-turtle-shells-and-protective-bra.html)

Protective Bra & Cup
This patented sports bra can be worn with or without protective cups. Worn by amateur and professional boxers. USA Boxing and Golden Gloves approved. Every style can be worn easily under ring apparel. Protective cups fit conveniently inside Protective Bra for added chest protection. Patented protective cups are super rigid and durable, yet flexible. Protective cups and sports bra sold separately.

d) Clothing:
i) Women and girls often have longer hair than men. Hair should be tied back or warm in a bandana, head scarf or hairnet to ensure hair does not impair the vision of the individual or their opponent in competition or training.
ii) Women and girls should dress appropriately for training, in non-revealing clothing and clothing that enables them to train comfortably and safely.
5) Being a Female Friendly Club / Provider
a) We understand that clubs and providers may not be fully female friendly; however it is essential that all clubs and providers cater for women boxing and as such clubs and providers need to work towards being female friendly. Below is a list of tips on being / becoming female friendly. Remember, if you require support with any of these factors you can contact the National Women’s Boxing Development Manager.
i) Positive publicity including images of women boxing. Distributing posters and leaflets in outlets that are female focused e.g. girls’ schools, women’s centres, guides and brownies.
ii) Positive images within the boxing environment and recognition of the successes of women boxers.
iii) Weekly female only sessions or an introductory female course of so many weeks
iv) Mixed gender sessions where appropriate
v) Female chaperones and supervisors within the boxing environment
vi) Female coach(s)
vii) Female changing and toilet facilities
viii)Information readily available including other opportunities, welfare officer, grants and safety equipment
ix) Link with other clubs for female sparring sessions regularly
x) Match making to enable women to compete and develop
6) Tournament Information
a) A domestic competitive structure for women and girls exists, and clubs are encouraged to enter female boxers, once they have received their medical card and they are deemed ready by their coach to compete.
b) International tournaments for women and girls currently include:
i) World Championships
ii) European Championships
iii) European Union Championships
iv) The Witch Cup
v) The Ahmet Comert
vi) Nikolaev Cup
c) Weight categories:
(1) Senior and Youth Boxers will be allowed to compete at 46kg, 48kg, 50kg, 52kg, 54kg, 57kg, 60kg, 63kg, 66kg, 70kg, 75kg, 80kg and 86kg as designated by AIBA.
(2) Junior and Novice Boxers will be allowed to compete at 46kg, 48kg, 50kg, 52kg, 54kg, 57kg, 60kg, 63kg, 66kg, 70kg, 75kg, 80kg and 80kg+

7) Further information, support and advice
a) For further information, support and advice contact the Amateur Boxing Association of England’s National Women’s Boxing Development Manager, Rebecca Black on 07515333044 or rebecca.black@abae.co.uk

Please note this document will be updated annually to reflect the fast pace of change in women’s boxing. Last produced in July 2008.

[1] beat is the working name of the Eating Disorders Association

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