The inside perspective
To learn more about the allure of the sport—and the debut of boxing at the London Olympics—we talked to Elizabeth (Liz) Plank, a boxing enthusiast turned boxing activist.
“I’ve always been very sporty, and boxing and kickboxing were two sports that always intrigued me,” says Liz. One try was all it took. “It felt so liberating, and so good, to just punch. My hair was flying all over the place and I was sweating, and it didn’t matter what I looked like. I think it’s really rare in life for women to have a moment when appearance doesn’t matter, when it’s not even a factor.”
It wasn’t just the physical aspect of boxing that appealed to Liz, but also the symbolism. “There’s something really fun about doing something people don’t expect you to do,” she says. “Gender bending is my favorite thing to do in the world.”
It comes as no surprise, perhaps, that Liz—who has a Masters in Social Policy and Gender Policy from the London School of Economics—became the leader of efforts to prevent female boxers from having to wear skirts at the summer Olympics. Yes, you read that right. Skirts. How very demure!
It all started when the Amateur International Boxing Association (AIBA) suggested that having female boxers wear skirts would make them look “elegant.” Fortunately, not all women—and men—agreed this was a good idea. One petition and 47,000 signatures later, the AIBA dropped the recommendation. Like male boxers, female boxers competed at the Olympics in outfits appropriate for the sport. What a relief! At the same time, what a debacle. Was this whole fight really necessary?