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Boxing New Zealand announces support for the establishment of an open category in Olympic style boxing
Wellington, 29th August 2022
Today, the executive board of Boxing New Zealand has announced first steps in progressing the creation of an Open category for Olympic style competition boxing.
Like the position many other sports find themselves in, this comes after a period of considerable consideration and discussion about how best to include people who do not identify as their biological sex, whilst upholding the right for safe and fair competition for all participants.
Boxing is a combat sport, where strength, stamina, and physique have a significant impact on both the safety of and fairness for competitors. There is potential for injury or worse if the margins of safety are breached. This is why boxing has sex specific, age specific and weight specific categories to maximise the inclusion of as many people as possible in this great sport, while also prioritizing safe and fair competition for all.
Alongside many other New Zealand sporting bodies, Boxing New Zealand has participated in Sport New Zealand’s recent consultation on it’s draft guidelines for transgender inclusion in community sport. As part of this process Boxing New Zealand raised concerns with Sport New Zealand about it’s advocacy for sex self-identification (allowing an individual to self-identify into the sex category of their choice even if they have not undertaken any form of medical transition).
Boxing New Zealand president Steve Hartley said: ``Our priority first and foremost is the safety of competitors in our sport, all competitors, regardless of any sexual persuasion or gender preference. We wish to continue to provide an environment where people benefit from rules that allow for fair and safe competition.”
The physical advantage a male boxer over a female boxer is significant, and the current evidence is that even if a male has taken to steps to supress testosterone this will never fully reverse the effects of a testosterone fuelled puberty on their strength, stamina, and physique.
For example, there is an average 160 percent advantage in punching force for a male versus a female boxer (World Rugby Summary of transgender biology and performance research). Allowing any male, regardless of how he identifies, to box against a female would be to actively accept that the physical safety of a female boxer is worth less than the wishes of a male boxer to be included in the sex category they identify with.
The safety of, and fairness for, female boxers is not up for negotiation and Boxing New Zealand will not be implementing gender self-identification in the male or female categories. We will not allow male people who have undergone puberty and who may be undertaking a medical transition to participate in the female category given the evidence around retained advantage. This is consistent with decisions recently made by other sporting organisations including the World Boxing Council, World Triathlon, and World Rugby.
Nor will Boxing New Zealand allow people who may be undertaking a medical transition or have transitioned from female to male, to participate in the male or female category.
These rules are consistent with the other Boxing New Zealand rules and procedures in place to preserve safety and fair competition while maximising inclusion.
The president of the Boxing New Zealand Referees and Judges’ Association Trish Howie comments:
“The primary duty of a boxing official is the safety and protection of the boxer. We have to continue to ensure all competitors, regardless of gender identification, are correctly matched in terms of age, weight and gender. The rules from the 1980s that were brought in to allow females to box differ from the rules for male boxing.
``To ensure the safety of competitors, new rules will need to be made to protect transgenders and their opponent during competition. These rules would apply to people who wish to enter competitions, as the care and protection of the boxer is paramount. There have recently been rule changes to accommodate different cultures, and the process of change, while continuing to uphold safety, is ongoing.”
The position of Boxing New Zealand is fully supported by our boxing community. There have been numerous communications with our members and all feedback received by our board is that our members fully support Boxing New Zealand’s stance to protect the welfare and safety of our female athletes.
Female participants in our sport welcome the inclusion and participation of gender diverse people in boxing but have made it very clear to Boxing New Zealand they will not accept transgender females competing in the female category in the name of “inclusion.”
Boxing New Zealand wishes to work with interested community members on the creation of an open category for gender diverse boxers and anyone else who claims to not fit in the traditional gender categories. The Open class will enable people from these communities access to competition boxing.
Steve Hartley, President Boxing NZ
Explanatory notes: Female, Male, and Open categories
< >People born female or people who identify as female who have not undergone male puberty. (i.e. commenced transition under the age of 12 years, medical proof required)Male:
< >People born male.Open Class:
< >A person born female who identifies as male and has undertaken or is in the process of a medical transition. A person born male who identifies as female and may or may not have undertaken or is in the process of a medical transition post puberty.A person who is does not qualify for either the male or the female categories.
Rules and Terms of Engagement:
The terms of engagement must be determined by the community of people who wish to enter this category with the agreement of Boxing New Zealand. The usual rules regarding age, weight and experience will apply.
It will be compulsory for a liability waiver to be signed by the participants that ensures there is no liability to Boxing New Zealand in cases of injury or worse to participants in the open class.
About Boxing New Zealand
Boxing New Zealand is New Zealand's only amateur boxing organisation and was established in 1904. Boxing New Zealand has over 20 local bodies located across New Zealand to act on behalf of Boxing New Zealand.
AOB (Amateur Olympic-style Boxing) Boxing is an Olympic sport, one of the five original Olympic sports (circa 650 AD). Boxing is New Zealand’s eighth best performing sport at Olympic level.
Originally boxing was purely a male sport and was officiated only by male referees and judges. This changed in 1990 in New Zealand with Trish Howie becoming the first New Zealand female boxing official in New Zealand and one of the first in the world. In 1996 the New Zealand Boxing Association was one of the first national organisations in the world to allow women to box in competition. The first women's bout in New Zealand was held in 1997, encouraging the participation of women in boxing which continues to be a key priority for Boxing New Zealand.
Article added: Tuesday 30 August 2022
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