Equality for Female Boxers in the Olympics

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WBAN responds to recent AIBA proposals on future of AIBA Women's Boxing.
by Sue Fox and
Michael O'Neill
January 21, 2015

(JAN 21) WBAN is encouraged to see that the International Boxing Association (AIBA) has responded in a positive manner to our previous two part article on the future of AIBA women’s boxing including possible future extensions to APB or WSB tournaments.

Unlike other organisations competing with the AIBA for women’s boxing – and boxers – WBAN’s only interest is to ensure that the AIBA, like all of the Professional organisations should be looking after the best interests of the boxers rather than just their own funds.

Many would argue that in boxing in general there are too many organisations offering ‘World title belts’ already, some of them excellent, others questionable.

WBAN knows though that the AIBA has a special part to play in the future of women’s boxing, whatever that future holds and it is for that reason that WBAN will continue to watch the progress made (or not made) by Dr Ching Kuo-Wu and his Executive Director/ CEO, Ho Kim and how they proceed to take their responsibilities through to the future. WBAN will highlight their good deeds – and any not so good or bad ones, without fear or favour and we feel sure they would want to be so judged by their faithful followers.

The AIBA is the ONLY organisation recognised by the International Olympic Committee (I.O.C) thus only those boxers who qualify via AIBA designated tournaments worldwide can take part in the Olympic Games, whether in Rio in 2016, Tokyo 2020 or thereafter and this is not going to change in the foreseeable future, if ever it will. WBAN and the Pro.organisations know that the world of ‘women’s boxing’ has changed and will continue to change in the coming years, hopefully for the better of all concerned and not just the few.

It is the boxers who put their bodies on the line, it is the boxers, supported by coaches and families who are the lifeblood of the sport, now and always. There can be no place in any organisation, nor will WBAN support anyone who puts themselves ahead of the boxers neither can the sport progress if any corrupt practices continue to be allowed by the licensing authority be it “biased referees” chosen by promoters or alleged poor quality of judging by officials some of whom have arguably been inadequately trained and many of whom are perhaps from countries where ‘women's boxing’ has been unknown until very recently, some not even now.

Organisations – and we include AIBA in this, no more or no less than any similar body, - who receive numerous complaints regarding judging or scoring systems should not and cannot simply ignore such claims. They need to be thoroughly investigated, preferably by competent authorities not linked to that organisation directly or indirectly. If it is the case that in a major Championship event a boxer clearly wins a bout but is judged to have lost in dubious circumstances then that title or medal should be withheld until an appeal is heard and a final decision agreed by the parties concerned including the boxer or their coach or professional body.

One idea we would strongly encourage the AIBA to adopt is to include current (female) Amateur champions and coaches (at least one of each) on their Executive Council for no one can surely believe or accept that anyone but ‘current’ boxers/coaches can truly represent their views? There is a ‘wealth of talent’ to choose from all confederations of the AIBA but no more males please – too many already in the AIBA, one might argue despite some additions to the Women’s Commission. How much TRUE authority do they REALLY have?

It has to be said that the AIBA has done much good work over the years to prevent corrupt practices, especially during the reign of Dr Ching Kuo-Wu but we feel sure that he and CEO Ho Kim will have been disappointed at the negative publicity which came from the Asian Games especially that bout between the representatives of India and Korea. Anyone who saw that bout, live or via TV or online, can but surely agree that an injustice was done to the Indian boxer, and by simply sanctioning the boxer and coaches it has appeared to many observers that the AIBA has chosen simply to turn a ‘blind eye’ to the performance of the judges or if not the judges then the scoring system in place. WBAN does NOT and NEVER would condone some of the scenes that followed that bout and understands why some action was necessary.

Lessons need to be learn from that debacle and we hope they will indeed we will continue to watch – and comment upon – any such injustices be they in Professional or Olympic AOB style boxing.

The AIBA knows, from its male programs, that there will always be some of its boxers, including some near if not at the top, who will continue to turn Pro for a variety of reasons. Equally some of the world’s finest women boxers are to be found in AIBA ranks and they too need to be looked after rather than having to look after themselves.

Boxers like (but not exclusively) Nicola Adams, Katie Taylor and Claressa Shields have brought great credit to the sport and need to be ‘properly’ looked after – it may well be that some AIBA organisations provide limited funding and limited promotional opportunities but others do not and some do not benefit as much has others for reasons such as what their own families or agents can arrange. Who knows who will win Gold in Rio and if, for example, Claressa Shields takes Gold again will her funding from USA boxing leave her with enough money to live on when her boxing career is ended? Arguably not.

That said the AIBA and the IABA should recognise a ‘national legend’ when they have one in their midst for it is ‘no given’ that she will remain in the ‘amateur’ ranks throughout her career albeit that may be how it looks just now. As she said herself recently: “I was offered a few contracts from the pro game. but my heart was never in the pro game from the start... for me in the end, representing my country in the Olympic Games , nothing outweighs that.”

“It’s not hard to motivate myself. I love my sport and boxing is my passion.. It’s a privilege to be representing my country whether it’s in the European championships or the World championships or the Olympics”.

Peter joked that he suggested Katie might retire after the last Olympics because he was thinking about his own health.

But whatever Katie decided we were going to be behind her 100pc.

“Katie decided to stay amateur and look towards Rio.”

He added: “To stay on top of any sport for ten years, like Katie has, she’s left a huge legacy.” It’s been unbelievable the journey she’s had.”

WBAN is however disappointed that in their detailed yet very helpful response to our previous articles the AIBA have chosen NOT to comment at all on the ‘safety issues’ nor what medical evidence they hold that proves that boxing without headguards is safer than with them and that apart if that is indeed the case why women are having to wait a longer period. Surely if safety IS assured (and many doubt that such evidence exists as yet) then by extension they are jeopardising women boxers again as in the case of only 3 weights again for Rio 2016 as for London 2012 i.e.: lots of women gaining or losing too much weight just to be able to take part.

We would welcome YOUR views dear readers and of course if the AIBA should wish to further clarify any points raised here and which were accidentally omitted from their previous one then we will be delighted to give them equal prominence. Respond by email to wban100@aol.com or via our Facebook/Twitter social media accounts, as before.

In conclusion we will continue to encourage the AIBA, perhaps even more so if they can make good their promises and ensure that the women's sport achieves true equality with the men. After all Dr Wu would surely wish to see his term of office end with his having achieved all he has set out to do rather than the limited progress made to date. Three weights again for Rio 2016 really is nothing more than an insult, to our gallant warriors, whether the blame lies with the I.O.C or with the AIBA.

Or are we saying that boxing remains very much a ‘man’s sport’ and women should be grateful for whatever crumbs they are offered? This is 2015 – surely not back to the really Dark Ages?

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