Boxing: 11-year-old Australian girl set for tournament bout

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AN 11-YEAR-OLD girl is set to fight in a tournament on Australia's Gold Coast which has been banned by one government and condemned by medical authorities. Zoe Norford, 11, has nominated for the girls under-13 championship of the breakaway Australian Amateur Boxing League next week, an official said yesterday.

"There is nothing illegal about what we are doing," said the AABL secretary, Dennis Magnay. He admitted the organisation was forced to move the event from New South Wales to neighbouring Queensland, because laws against female boxing existed in the former.

He conceded that some people might be shocked by the idea of young girls boxing. "I understand how it can be a shock to their systems because it's something new but given a few years it will be absolutely nothing," Magnay said. "We make sure that they are well protected - that's the main thing. They wear a headguard, a compulsory breast protector, slightly softer gloves and box shorter rounds than the boys."

The Australian Medical Association is opposed to all boxing but will campaign to ban all fighters under 18 years. The AMA's national president, David Brand, said young boxers exhibited early evidence of brain damage in some studies, despite not being able to punch as hard as older fighters.

The officially sanctioned Amateur Boxing Union of Australia does not endorse female boxers.