Boxing: IOC weigh in but are wrong about women

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The Independent Online

The news on Thursday that women will box at the Olympics was great for Ireland's Katie Taylor, officially the best female amateur boxer in the world, but a disaster for England's Nicola Adams who will have to lose or gain six kilos to take part in the 2012 Olympics.

The IOC's decision, which will inevitably be ratified in October in Copenhagen, to allow 36 women from just three of the 13 female weight categories to fight at the London Olympics completely overlooked the risky business of losing and gaining weight.

The IOC decided that women flyweights of between 106-112 pounds, lightweights between 123-132 and middleweights between 152-165 would have the dubious honour of competing for glory at the Olympics.

The world's most successful female amateur boxer is India's magnificent Mary Kom, who has won four gold medals and a silver at the five women's world championships, but even she will now have to switch weight categories and gain just under ten pounds to compete.

In the middleweight division, it is possible that some women will try and drop in excess of two stone to become an Olympian. The reason that women have 13 recognised categories compared to the 11 that men compete in is to reduce the disparity in size and power of the smaller boxers. The IOC has simply made the women's two lowest weights disappear and to compound the potentially hazardous decision the men's lowest weight category has been sacrificed to make way for the 36 hopefuls.

In Beijing 29 men competed at light-flyweight and the weight's disappearance is sure to have serious side effects in nations where there was a definite No 1 and No 2 at the two lowest weights. The men's world championships, which start in Milan next month, will in theory have a fully redundant weight category and any naturally tiny men will need to bulk up or switch sports. Incidentally, 237 boxers from 42 nations competed in last year's women's world championships in China compared to the 722 boxers from 113 nations who will fight in Milan.

It was in China that Adams, a bantamweight, won a silver medal and Taylor won her second title at lightweight. If Adams can gain the weight the pair could meet next year in Barbados at the world championships in what would inevitably be a terrible mismatch created by the IOC's failure to introduce all of the women's weights.

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