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AIBA to invite Pros. to compete in Rio Olympics according to President CK Wu
by Michael O'Neill
February 24, 2016
Photo/courtesy AIBA
     
   
   

(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 2016.

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 processes.

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 boxing forever."

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 weights”.

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 counterparts.

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.

 
     
     
   
 
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