(DEC 23) After the huge success
story that was ‘ London 2012’, one has to say that 2013 has
been a ‘disappointing year’ for AIBA Olympic-style women’s
boxing worldwide with only one major Senior Elite Championships
taking place. The American Confederation (AMBC) event took place
in Venezuela where the three Olympic weights brought success for
the United States trio of Marlen Esparza, Queen Underwood and
A huge disappointment was the non participation of Olympic Gold
medallist Claressa Shields ruled out following the change of age
limits introduced by the AIBA earlier in the year which meant
that Ms. Shields had to compete in Youth competitions in her
native land (where hardly surprisingly no one dared to challenge
her) or later in the year in the AIBA World Youth Championships
in Bulgaria where it would have been the ‘shock of the year’ if
she had not emerged victorious. That World Youth and junior
event in Albena was indeed a success and gives hope for the
future albeit it did nothing for the stars of the Senior Elites
who had made such an impact on London 2012. True there was
limited live streaming coverage from Albena but it gained little
“live” media coverage outside the normal boxing websites and
AIBA/EUBC’s own media sources.
The AMBC event apart, have other continents and countries fared
any better in 2013? On the face of it NO – in England not one of
the three Team GB boxers from London 2012 was entered for the
2013 ABAE Elite Championships in early December so fans of
women’s elite boxing wanting to see such as Natasha Jonas, World
75kg Champion Savannah Marshall or 51kg Gold medallist Nicola
Adams in action were deprived of seeing see their idols in
competitive action on home soil. It was though a difficult year
for English boxing with suspensions and possibilities of long
term bans. An extraordinary general meeting in November resulted
in the formation of a newly appointed executive committee and a
fresh start for the new ‘England Boxing’ (previously known as
In Ireland, not for the first time and possibly not for the last
time, Katie Taylor again took the Irish 60kg crown by virtue of
a ‘walk-over’. Fact is of course that though Taylor has to-date
taken an Olympic Gold, 4 World, 5 European and 5 European Union
titles she has never actually won an Irish title ‘in the ring’ –
not her fault as she would dearly love to have so done.
Irish fans did at least have an opportunity of seeing their
Olympic Gold medallist in action since in the absence of any
promotional activities on the part of the I.A.B.A , ‘Team
Taylor’ themselves were left with no alternative but to arrange
their own bouts in Dublin ‘s Mansion House and in Bray.
Surely a ‘Golden Opportunity’ lost by the failure of the
national authorities and the AIBA to utilize the services of
Adams, Taylor and Shields to showcase the women’s sport in their
native countries, not mind you that the men fared much better,
in England or in Ireland it must be said.
One question that must be posed is do these ‘amateur’ (if such a
word can any longer be legitimately be used), organizations do
enough - if anything - to promote their boxing stars in their
all too short careers? Hardly surprising therefore that so many
of the males turn pro but some at least it can be said that some
males have had the opportunity of taking part in the WSB Series
– the women have had no such option as yet nor in the
foreseeable future. Perhaps an indication that the old style
‘amateur’ volunteers are in the modern world of AIBA Olympic
Boxing simply “out of touch” and living on past glories. Time
for a more professional approach and younger executives with
athlete representatives more in tune with the needs of boxers in
2014 than in the 1990’s?
In Britain, Nicola Adams had this to say on the subject of
‘women in sport’ at a recent news conference: "In women's boxing
things have changed massively," she said. "There has been a 50
per cent increase in numbers since the Olympics and it is
obvious they have been inspired by the Games.
"But there is still a lot of work to be done. It is important we
get more sports women on TV and in the media and if that happens
then I think there is a good chance the numbers will keep
"If they are not aware of the sports they are not going to go
out with any desire to try them. That's what the Olympics does,
and it's what TV and the media could do as well if they show
more women and put them in the sports pages."
In Ireland, despite the fact that 2013 was a very quiet year for
Taylor (just a European Union Gold) though a hugely successful
year for other Irish sports men and women too, the Olympic gold
medallist still came top of the annual influential Pembroke
Communications Sports Index (male and female) with some 25
percent of the votes cast well ahead of all others from all
sports and with almost no assistance from her home boxing
association. So she remains as Ireland’s most popular Sporting
Personality in 2013.
Source: PEMBROKE COMMUNICATIONS’ SPORTS SENTIMENT INDEX
Who, in your opinion, is Ireland’s greatest current sports star?
(Top three with last year’s vote in brackets)
25% Katie Taylor (2012 = 53%)
15% Brian O’Driscoll (13%) Ireland’s most capped International
Rugby Union star
6% AP McCoy (3%) 4000+ winners in National Hunt Racing
So women’s boxing is for sure making an impact on male and
female alike in at least one country and not just in the boxing
community for Taylor has developed into one of the country’s
most sought after guests on TV shows that hitherto would have
had not the slightest interest in boxing, male or female.
And so what does 2014 hold in store for AIBA Olympic style
women’s boxing? That is an important question bearing in mind
that we are in the final days of 2013.
Yes---there IS a 2014 World Elite AIBA Women's Championships on
the horizon – venue and exact dates yet to be confirmed (at the
time of writing) and the British trio named earlier (Adams,
Jonas and Marshall) plus Canadians, Australians, New Zealanders
and those from Northern Ireland and the other countries that
form the Commonwealth, have the 2014 Commonwealth Games in
Glasgow to look forward to in late July/early August. This is
the first time that women’s boxing appears – good news that. As
with the Olympic Games the AIBA had no choice other than to
accept three weights.
What else though? There is also the first ever appearance of
women’s boxing in the 2014 Youth Olympic Games in Nanjing, China
(again three weights for women, ten for males) and that is
preceded by the AIBA World Youth Championships in Sofia,
Bulgaria (once more three women’s weights – ten for males).
There will be the rest of the AIBA Confederations titles too,
Europe included though the EUBC has again thus far not named
location or exact dates for this tournament which has been
postponed from October 2013 at the request of the AIBA according
to EUBC sources.
The boxers themselves also appear to be very much afraid of
“speaking out” publically though that applies to many males as
well as female boxers – same too with their coaches. A fear
factor or just lack of interest?
The response to the
WBAN Petition to the I.O.C was correctly
described as “disappointing” and that was being diplomatic.
many of the 2012 Olympic Games or AIBA World Championships or
Confederations medallists actually signed it?
And of those who
did not, why not? Fear of their home or national association or
simply not interested in doing anything to help their own cause?
As for those who have spoken out, what has been the response?
Ireland’s Taylor spoke on RTE TV in mid-September -and to ‘ the
Irish Media’ about her serious disappointment at the lack of any
new opportunities for women boxers such as the men already have
with the existing WSB and will have in 2014 with the new APB.
The AIBA quickly responded with an unusually detailed statement
which included (but was not limited to) :
“We all admire Katie and recognize that any frustration she
feels stems from her sincere passion for the sport,” the
statement read. “However we have to disagree that the state of
women’s boxing is going backwards, far from it in fact.
It added: “Our development work at grassroots levels along with
the inspiration offered by boxers like Katie Taylor, Nicola
Adams, Claressa Shields and others is visibly taking effect on
the number of young women who are engaging with the sport.”
“For example, even as we speak, the opening day of the AIBA
Women’s Junior/Youth World Boxing Championships is underway in
Albena, Bulgaria. This is the second time the event has been
held (it was launched in 2011 and like the men’s events it is
biannual). This year we have a record of 312 Youth and Junior
athletes taking part from all over the world. This shows that
AIBA’s commitment to developing women’s boxing is bearing
In an even more comprehensive statement to ‘The Irish Examiner’
the AIBA also added that that while the organization had been
hoping to create a professional event for women, it would not
happen in the timeframe Taylor had hoped for.
“She has had correspondence with our president Dr Ching-Kuo Wu
and I was copied in on those correspondences,” the AIBA’s
Director of Communications said.
“In those it said we are investigating and are interested in
launching WSB for women such as the ABP (AIBA Professional
Boxing), the new professional boxing programme starting next
year. We also mentioned that WSB is a very young product and is
still not established so it is too early to put any date on a
potential start to WSB for women.
“It’s something we are evaluating on a regular basis. The market
is still a little bit too young to change the WSB format but we
are constantly looking for the best way to integrate women’s
boxing and make it as big as the men’s are. This is why we don’t
want to just jump in and launch women’s just for the sake of
On the subject of Taylor’s frustrations : “She has to believe in
us that we are pushing as much as we can for women’s boxing, not
only for the Olympic games but we’re also very proud of having
her as our ambassador for women’s boxing.”
“We also hope to see her next year at the world boxing
championships. Whatever we can do to develop women’s boxing we
will do, believe me, and we will keep her involved.”
The AIBA’s Communications Director went on to outline ‘the
organization's disappointment at not securing more medal events
at the Rio Games in 2016 and vowed to continue developing
“We have tried to defend our position as much as possible but
ultimately it comes down to the number of medals the IOC
(International Olympic Committee) wants to have in the Olympics
and they didn’t want to increase this number. It hasn’t changed
our minds though and we will come back and back and back.
“We can understand the frustration of Katie but actually our
work and the dedication of boxers like her is paying off.
“At the youth and junior women’s world championships the number
of participants increased by 30%. It’s a huge factor that shows
due to our work and Katie and the other women boxers that we are
developing women’s boxing. We’ve got to go further but that will
take time unfortunately.”
Perhaps the AIBA through its excellent Communications
Directorate needs to sit down ‘face to face’ with its stars like
Taylor, Adams, Shields, Ochigava, Mery Kom, Mikaela Mayer and
others and explain to them just how the AIBA intends to use
these superb ambassadors? When frustrations arise as is
inevitable surely ‘face to face’ discussions is a vastly better
solution than statements via the media?
Are national associations not also seriously at fault and
failing their own stars by leaving it to the boxers to try and
impress upon the AIBA their frustrations? What one wonders are
the local associations doing – are they not failing in their
duty of care to their ‘boxers, who are putting their bodies on
line in the cause of their country? Food for thought certainly.
So the AIBA firmly believes that everything is on course for a
hugely successful future for women’s boxing. Is that a view
shared by YOU, our readers, supporters, boxers and coaches
throughout the world?
WBAN would like to hear YOUR thoughts on the hugely important
subjects raised here.
1. Are the boxers doing enough to help themselves?
2. Do they fear ‘punishment’ by their local associations if they
speak out? Is that fear justified based on actual experiences?
3. Do YOU accept that the AIBA could not have had another 2/3
weights included in Rio 2016 albeit at the expense of male
4. Are the IOC and by association other bodies such as the AIBA
meeting their responsibilities under the Olympic Charter towards
5. Was it ‘unreasonable’ for women elite boxers to expect faster
progress in the development of the women's sport after the
hugely optimistic statements coming from Dr Wu and the AIBA at
London 2012 and for months thereafter?
WBAN has one interest and one interest only and that is the
promotion of women’s boxing for benefit of ‘amateur’ and
We have no hidden agenda – but we will
continue to do all in our power to ensure that women’s boxing at AIBA level is treated with the respect it deserves and in
accordance with the ‘promises’ which we believe that every
female boxer was led to believe would happen at a much faster
rate of progress than is now the case. If the AIBA feels that it
was genuinely misinterpreted so be it but is it not just
possible for the AIBA to accept that perhaps some of the
optimism did give boxers the real impression that progress was
just around the corner?
It is inconceivable that the AIBA was misled by the I.O.C re
‘only 3 weights for Rio’. The question remains why then did the
AIBA Executive not proceed to defend its own policy ‘promise’ of
5/6 weights for Rio? We cordially invite AIBA’s respected
President Ching Kuo-Wu to outline at length and with no
restriction on space, what the AIBA did from the moment they
first became aware that there would be no more than 286 boxer
places for Rio. Above all why not more weights were made
available even if at the expense of another one or two male
weights. Fear of a male backlash from more powerful countries
where women’s boxing is in its infancy if at all acceptable?
We do appreciate that Dr Wu has tried very hard to persuade his
I.O.C colleagues but truthfully was there still not the golden
opportunity to make good the promises made following that Golden
Summer of 2012? We await with interest the AIBA’s response early
in the New Year but meantime let the I.O.C and the A.I.B.A
accept that WBAN will continue to fight the cause for not only
must justice be done but justice must be seen to be done if the
AIBA is not to be seen as a predominantly male dominated
organization whereby influential factions in some countries can
apply pressure on the AIBA Executive to let the status quo
Equality, true equality means hard decisions must be taken and
promises delivered – and soon. For the boxing community will
judge by the speed of future progress . As the old saying goes :
“Action speaks louder than words”. WBAN has faith in the AIBA
and Dr Wu – to deliver. And sooner rather than later.
Sue TL Fox / Michael O’Neill