AIBA to invite Pros. to compete in
Rio Olympics according to President CK Wu
by Michael O'Neill
February 24, 2016
(FEB 24) AIBA President Dr
Ching-Kuo Wu speaking in Manchester this afternoon has given to
go ahead for Pros, to compete in the Olympic Games in future and
has not ruled out the possibility of some taking part in Rio
At the AIBA commission meeting at Old Trafford, the home of
Manchester United Football club, Wu said :
"We want the best boxers to come to the Olympic Games. It is
AIBA's 70th birthday, and we want something to change - not
after four years, but now.
"It is an IOC policy to have the best athletes in the Games, and
of the international federations, AIBA is probably the only one
without professional athletes in the Olympics.
"We already have our own professionals, APB and WSB boxers, in
the Games and we will go further."
Could such rule changes be made in time for Rio? Wu replied:
"According to our statutes it is absolutely possible."
It is highly unlikely that countries like Ireland or Great
Britain would ‘benefit’ from any such change especially so close
to Rio as Ireland for example, have four male boxers, Paddy
Barnes, Mick Conlan, Steven Donnelly and Joe Ward through via
routes such as AIBA Pro, WSB, APB and the World championships
but if the top boxers from other countries are allowed to
compete it would certainly hit many of the smaller nations
without whom the AIBA would not be the organisation it is today.
Many in world boxing circles see this as just another step in
the AIBA’s quest to dominate the world of boxing so one cannot
see such as the WBC,WBA etc. taking this ‘lying down’, indeed it
is possible that other bodies would pursue this through the
courts in Switzerland and in the United States with all that
that entails including possible delays and lengthy legal
The general boxing public will of course on the whole be happy
with that but where does it leave countries like the United
States and their own National Olympic Federation? At the time of
going to Press WBAN has not received any Press Release from USA
Boxing or USOC. We will publish any such statement as and when
we receive it.
The “Associated Press” organisation in UK is however attributing
this quote to Mike Martino, Executive Director of USA Boxing.
"Do I think it's going to happen this year? No," Martino said.
"Practically speaking, we're looking at 2020. But it's something
that's been on our radar screen, something we've talked about
for the last four years, knowing that AIBA pro boxers were going
to be in the Olympics. We've talked to the USOC about how it
impacts the sport, and it's huge. The Dream Team changed
basketball in the Olympics forever. This will obviously change
The odd ‘small’ country who has a top ranked Pro will benefit
that’s for sure but by and large as the “rules” between
“Amateur” and “Pro” are so different not to mention the scoring
system, it is possible that the best of the amateurs would
defeat the best of the Pros except perhaps in the “heavier male
At today’s media session no specific mention was made of female
boxers and seeing that four years down the line from London
2012, there remain but three Olympic weights for women it is
thought to be unlikely that any Pro women would be involved in
Rio 2016 albeit two USA Boxing team members did take part in
recent AIBAPro exhibition whilst a third, Claressa Shields was
due to take part but her opponent withdrew leaving Mikaela Mayer
and Ginny Fuchs to represent United States against their Mexican
There is also the question of age limits – who for example would
want an 18/19 years old ‘amateur’ representing his country to
come up against say Klitschko or Fury in the preliminaries of
the Olympic Games. There is the possibility of at very least
serious injury and/or long term brain damage so unless this is
managed carefully it could simply open a huge ‘can of worms’.
Those who talk about Golf and Tennis being open to Pros in Rio
are being naïve. Which tennis player or golfer has suffered
serious brain damage whilst ‘playing’ their sport? This is
perfectly possible if the top Pros are pitted against say an 18
or 19 years old ‘amateur’ in their first season. You don’t
‘play’ at boxing!
Certainly made a good story for the News agencies and media but
this is a longer term project with possibilities for Tokyo 2020
though clearly there could be a few Pros in Rio. It could also
mean the setting up of a rival ‘amateur’ organisation with WBC
likely to lead the way and the AIBA may well lose ‘thousands’ of
amateurs who have no interest at all in the Pro. Sport and would
never be good enough to represent their country.
It seems highly unlikely that any Professional organisation
would release their boxers to compete in an AIBA-controlled
event indeed there may be very few boxers who would relinquish
their Pro. Licence in any event. Can the AIBA ensure that the
thousands of boxers worldwide who make a living from the sport
really will join? Some will, many more will not.
Clearly there must also be official approval from both the AIBA
Executive Council and from the International Olympic Committee
and with Rio qualifiers but weeks away it is difficult to see
many Professionals taking part in Rio.
Tokyo 2020 may well be a ‘different ball game’ as by then time
sufficient time should have elapsed for the AIBA to have got the
necessary agreements and they will have had time to gauge public
and boxers opinions.
The suggestion in many quarters tonight is that the AIBA’s own
APB competition is attracting fewer top boxers than expected
since its inception hence the haste to move on to the next step
though Rio one feels has come too soon.
For many in the sport it could be the ‘straw that broke the
camel’s back’ and we may yet see a new ‘amateur organisation set
up’ for those who have no interest in being at the Olympics.