MILAN, Italy -- The International Amateur Boxing Association voted Wednesday to move ahead with a bid to include women's boxing in the Olympics, starting with the 2012 Games in London.
Boxing is the only one of 26 Olympic summer sports federations without female competitors.
AIBA president Ching-Kuo Wu said the executive committee voted unanimously to introduce women's boxing into the Olympics and that an official application would be submitted to the International Olympic Committee at the end of the month.
The IOC would vote on the proposal at its session in Copenhagen in October.
"The IOC understands the importance of women's boxing and knows the current developments and its popularity," Wu told The Associated Press. "We are the only sport without women in the Olympics. We are the only sport where women's rights are not fully respected. We have to work with the IOC to gain their understanding and support."
After intensive lobbying, Wu believes the AIBA has garnered enough support to ensure a positive vote.
"We started this promotion of women's boxing some time ago," he said. "We also have a lot of support from the head of the IOC's women's commission, Anita De Frantz. She is also on our advisory council."
Wu said safety was a prime concern, but noted that the 2008 Women's World Championships in Ningbo City, China, had a safety record the sport could be proud of.
"It was a high standard of competition and what is more important is that at the end of the competition there was no single injury," he said.
Britain's Olympic sports minister Tessa Jowell recently called for complete gender equality at the London Games.
"In the Olympic movement there should not be any discrimination -- racial, sexual, political -- so women [boxers] should have the right to compete in the Games," Wu said.
With the arrival of women's wrestling at the 2004 Athens Games, boxing is the only summer Olympic sport without a female group competing. Ski jumping doesn't have women's competition at the Winter Olympics.
AIBA has approved and governed women's boxing since 1994, establishing its women's committee a decade ago and holding world championship tournaments and regional events. Those tournaments would serve as Olympic qualifiers if the sport is put on the London program.
Wu was in Milan to oversee the city's preparations for the men's world championships in September. AIBA also awarded the hosting rights to future tournaments -- the 2010 women's world championships went to Barbados and the 2011 world championships to Pusan, Korea.