AIBA 2014/15 The Good, The Bad and
the Questions Unanswered – WBAN invites Dr. Ching Kuo-Wu and AIBA
Executive Director Ho Kim to respond
by Sue Fox and Michael O'Neill
January 8, 2015
(JAN 8) The year just ended
was, by any standards, a remarkable one even in the life of the
AIBA with many good news items and yet marred by so many
controversies not least of which was the confirmation during the
2014 AIBA Women’s World championships in Korea that there would
but be three Olympic weights for women in Rio 2016 as was the
case in London four years earlier.
For many years now – and sadly probably for a few more years,
WBAN has campaigned, and will continue to campaign for ‘complete
equality’ with male boxers; after all it (equality for male and
female athletes) is enshrined in the Olympic charter; indeed
some respected writers say that in failing to achieve this by
now, the International Olympic Committee which includes Dr.
Thomas Bach as President and Dr. Wu as an Executive
Vice-President, are already in breach of this article which
applies to ALL sports, not just boxing.
Dr. Wu himself was lending his considerable support for equality
of the sexes whilst campaigning for a new term of office in 2014
but appears to have a different perspective on the issue since
he was re-elected. If indeed Dr. Wu and Korean Chief Executive
Officer, Ho Kim now believe that this cannot be achieved before
Tokyo 2020 then the ‘AIBA family’ (boxers, coaches, many AIBA
officials and fans worldwide) will feel badly let down by those
who purport to promote the women’s sport. So what is the truth?
In early 2014, European Olympic Committee Chair, Patrick Hickey
confirmed that there would be FIVE women’s weight at the
inaugural 2015 European Games (effectively the European
Olympics) in Baku, Azerbaijan. That being the case – and WBAN
does not doubt the sincerity of Mr. Hickey or his EOC Executive,
then how can the AIBA now be happy campaigning for equality in
2020. Surely that is a backward step i.e.: from 3 in 2012 to 5
in 2015 and back to 3 in 2016. That said no one knows exactly
what the 2020 proposals from Messrs Bach and Wu consist of
anyway. Full equality with male boxers (hopefully) or just
another token increase say 3 to 6 or worse still 5 as in
European Games of 2015 or worst of all still 3 as in 2012? Time
for the IOC and AIBA to clarify exactly what they are planning
and better still why EQUALITY has NOT been possible already.
Why for example, in the case of women’s boxing could there not
already be 5 or 6 weights in Rio rather than the miserly 3? All
that would have been needed is for Dr. Wu to recommend dropping
one more men’s weight. After all the I.O.C never ruled out a
fairer distribution between male and female. WBAN understands
that Dr. Jacques Rogge (previous IOC President) agreed that his
successor would not increase the number of 286 boxers in Rio and
thus no increase in medals. That edict did not preclude a better
share between male and female boxers..
There are a number of other issues that may well surface
following the 2014 AIBA Congress in Jeju in December according
to concerns raised in our mailbag from boxing lovers worldwide.
Many of the worlds’ leading AIBA officials, boxers and coaches
were ‘extremely disappointed’ that there was no ‘official’ AIBA
rankings in place for Jeju. Worse still when journalists
questioned why this was so, there was simply a ‘shrug of the
shoulders’, and the unsatisfactory response ‘no particular
Now whether or not that really was – or is – a serious issue is
a matter for debate. The AIBA may well point to the fact that
two of the three Olympic Gold medallists from London 2012 (the
injured Nicola Adams was not in Jeju) did win again (Shields and
Taylor) as a justification that the best will prevail whether or
not there is a seeding system.
Some will agree with that viewpoint, others will not for the
reason that if there are no seeded athletes it is possible that
say a no. 1 could meet a number 2, 3, or 4 in a preliminary
round thus spectators could well be deprived of seeing the very
best in the semi-finals and finals, which after all in Jeju as
in China 2012 and London 2012 is where the greatest number of
spectators are present and the best live TV coverage is
available to viewers. Should the AIBA not considering these
viewpoints rather than just ‘imposing’ their own decisions and
then failing to respond to reasonable queries from the media?
Perhaps the AIBA Executive should consider the greater interests
of the ‘AIBA Family’ rather than just imposing their personal
will? Even at Technical Committee meetings no comment was
forthcoming, we understand. Odd, very odd.
WBAN has long campaigned for women’s bouts to be included in the
World Series of Boxing (WSB) and AIBA ProBoxing (APB)
tournaments and there is some ‘mild’ cause for optimism that
this could happen later in 2015.
After all following the success of the women’s sport in London
2012, there was an ideal opportunity for AIBA and its own
Confederations in every continent to showcase such champions as
Adams, Shields, Taylor, and other medallists eg: Marlen Esparza,
Mary Kom, Cancan Ren etc.
Yet this did not happen and a golden opportunity was lost not
just by the AIBA but their affiliated associates in most
countries. Even in Ireland, the IABA did not arrange for
its medallists, Taylor, Nevin, Barnes and Conlan to promote the
sport. Equally shameful.
Many experts would say that it was the women’s sport that
‘saved’ the boxing programme in London at a time when the men’s
sport had hit an all-time low and boxing itself was in danger of
being removed from the Olympic programme. At that
time, Dr. Wu and many respected writers, felt that in the longer
term i.e. 2012-2020 the women’s sport would bring many thousands
of ‘new’ spectators to the ringside, especially young men and
One had only to see the crowd’s reaction to the women’s
programme in London to see how the ‘times were changing’.
Another lost opportunity? Few would disagree.
In Cuba where the professional sport was banned until fairly
recently, it would also have been possible to have introduced
this year, women’s exhibition bouts before the recently
completed WSB series. That would also have given encouragement
to Cuban women to enter the sport in much greater numbers.
Remember these comments from leading Cuban coaches/officials
"We have no plans at the moment to participate in any
international events because we don't think the sport is
appropriate for women."
and "Cuban women should be showing off their beautiful faces,
not getting punched in the face”. Those from two of their
leading officials according to the Cuban news agency. Now is the
time to revisit the Cuban question.
PART II - WILL BE PUBLISHED SOON...