(JUNE 4) There’s widespread
anger in AIBA and Professional boxing circles following the news
from the International Boxing Association (AIBA) that
Professional boxers can now stake a claim for a place in Rio
(L-R) Ted Tanner, AIBA
Vice-President, Franco Falcinelli, AIBA Vice-President, Dr
Ching-Kuo Wu, AIBA President, Karim Bouzidi, AIBA Executive
Director, Osvaldo Bisbal, AIBA Vice-President, Serik Konakbayev,
Few ‘amateurs’ are prepared to be
quoted thus far for fear of being disowned by their own
Federation or by their sport’s Governing body.
AIBA boxers apart, many Professionals have also voiced their
strong disapproval and simply see it as an attempt by the AIBA
to dominate boxing around the world.
It is widely predicted that professional bodies such as the WBC
and others will seek to challenge the changes within months.
It is difficult to see why any current Pro world champions would
risk a 2 years suspension and give up their World titles in the
off chance that they might get one of the 26 remaining Rio
First let us look at the Press Release issued by the AIBA in
Lausanne 1 June, which we include here in its entirety, so you
can study it for yourself. We welcome your comments as always
whether via email, Twitter, Facebook or other Social Media.
AIBA Press Release reads:
“The International Boxing Association (AIBA) convened an
Extraordinary Congress in Lausanne today, June 1st, in a bid to
remove Article 13 (J) of the AIBA Statutes. The new article will
open the doors to boxers from all organisations to participate
in AIBA competitions. This amendment was ratified by an
overwhelming majority of 95% of the delegates attending the
“This is a momentous occasion for AIBA, for Olympic Boxing, and
for our sport as a whole, and represents another great leap
forward in the evolution of boxing. We have embraced reform at
AIBA over the past decade, making historic changes that have
shaped the present health of boxing and precipitated its ongoing
surge in popularity worldwide. This move will ensure the
empowerment of National Federations and enhance all future
competitions including the Olympic Games. Our mission is to
continue to make brave decisions in the best interest of our
boxers and for the good for the sport,” declared AIBA President
Dr Ching-Kuo Wu after the vote.
The amendment of Article 13 (J) will immediately allow all
National Federations to register all non AIBA professional
boxers for the APB/WSB Olympic Qualification Tournament in
Vargas, Venezuela on July 3-8 according to the criteria for
registration of pro boxers. The competition will offer 26 quota
places available for Rio 2016.
AIBA’s decision supports the IOC Agenda 2020 which seeks to
ensure that the world’s best athletes are eligible to compete at
the Olympic Games. Boxing was one of the few sports not to have
been open to all professional athletes, and the changes reflect
the levelling of the playing field and the culmination of
reforms and new competitions that AIBA has been responsible for,
particularly the inauguration of AIBA Pro Boxing and World
Series of Boxing competitions.
The change comes as AIBA, the only official boxing body
recognised by the International Olympic Committee with 197
National Federations affiliated, marks its 70th year at the
forefront of the sport. Its policies are aimed at nourishing
boxing and providing a solid career path for determined athletes
all over the world, from providing essential grassroots training
facilities through to its elite-level global competitions. A
significant element of that care for boxers also covers their
health, as evidenced by the current HeadsUp initiative and the
AIBA Medical Commission’s research that informed the decision to
remove headguards in men’s competitions in 2013.
The new Article 13 J of the AIBA statutes:-
National Federations and provisional members have the following
“To govern, organize, promote and represent the sport of boxing
in accordance with the AIBA Statutes, AIBA Bylaws, AIBA
Technical Rules, AIBA 3 Program Competition Rule, AIBA Code of
Ethics, AIBA Disciplinary Code, AIBA Procedural Rules and the
AIBA Anti-Doping Rules within its territory by establishing
appropriate rules and regulations concerning the practice of the
sport and the eligibility of boxers to participate in national
competitions and AIBA Competitions.”
Two points to note:
Despite the AIBA and IOC having previously talked about the
importance of “Equality” you will note that the rule changes
ONLY apply to Male boxers in Rio and NOT to any Women Pro
A clear case of “discrimination” many influential experts in
several countries have already pointed out and that includes
males and females alike.
It also appears to be in clear violation of the IOC’s own
Olympic charter on equality.
Due to time differences around the world, many countries have
not yet issued any statement but we have included here a number
of comments from various sources in Europe.
London 2012 Olympic medallist, Michael Conlan : "It wouldn't
bother me, I'll beat all of them," the Ireland bantamweight
Eighty-four of the 88 member federations of AIBA approved the
rule changes, which will permit any world champion boxer to try
to qualify next month and win selection for their national team.
Boxing promoter Eddie Hearn was also somewhat scathing in his
comments, as quoted by the (London) Daily Mail.
He suggested only countries willing to pay top boxers to compete
in the Games would be represented by elite pros under the new
'The only appetite a top level fighter would have to take part
in the Olympics is if their government were funding them to do
so,' he said.
'I already know of some elite international fighters that have
effectively been offered a fee by their government to take part
- I see it as buying medals but it's not a model that would work
'Our government and funding system already does a tremendous job
with the facilities at the English Institute of Sport in
Sheffield for the GB boxing team and I can't see, nor would I
want to see, a way in for professional UK boxers into the
David Price, former British heavyweight titleholder and Olympic
medallist from Beijing 2008 told the BBC Radio 5 Live:
"It's 10 weeks away from Rio, so I don't think we're going to
see too many professionals go through.
I think it's too soon. I think what they're doing is just
letting everyone know that in future this is how it's going to
GB Performance Director Rob McCracken said, before today’s
announcement that he did not expect any major changes this year:
"It would be very difficult for a pro to take the place of
someone who's been training for three years and who's been very
successful over the three, three-minute rounds with the speed,
reaction and timing.
"It's not so easy for a professional to come back in and do
that, because they're 12-round fighters."
Northern Ireland’s Carl Frampton former WBA and IBF
super-bantamweight champion and an established Irish
international until he turned Pro in 2009 said that allowing
professionals into the Olympics was 'ridiculous'.
"They're two different sports. It's like a badminton player
playing tennis," he said on Twitter.
"A lot of people are saying it would be unfair for amateurs
because the top pros would wipe them out, but that's not the
case," he said.
"I believe the top amateur boxers in the world would be able to
compete with the world's top professionals over that
three-minute round format with soft amateur gloves on."
What does former heavyweight champion Mike Tyson, 49 feel?
The two time Junior Olympic Gold medallist he said : "It's
ridiculous, it's foolish, and some pro fighters are going to get
beat by the amateurs.
"It's just going to happen, I really believe that."
Later at the 33rd IBF convention in China, he added that
professional boxers would find the fast-paced fighting style of
their amateur counterparts difficult to contend with.
"If they are like the amateur fighters that I was fighting in
the 80s... they are going to beat some of the champions, it's
just going to happen," he insisted.
In a poll of its readers tonight the influential (London) Daily
Mirror asked if it was right to allow Professionals to compete
in the Olympics. A resounding 79% said NO, only 21% said YES.
Both Amir Khan and Manny Pacquiao have been ‘courted’ by AIBA’s
Dr. Wu in recent years but tonight the “Philippine Star” had
this to say on the subject of Manny seeking the country’s first
ever Olympic Gold:
“Sen. Manny Pacquiao’s decision not to fight at the coming
Olympics dealt a huge blow to AIBA’s campaign to introduce
professionals in Rio, seriously eroding the credibility of the
international federation in foisting itself as the global
governing body for the sport in both the amateur and
Pacquiao would’ve been the ace in AIBA president Dr. Ching Kuo
Wu’s master plan to take control of all of boxing. Since the
concept of AIBA opening its doors to pros was hatched six years
ago, the process of expansion has been slow. AIBA launched two
pro platforms, the team-oriented WSB (World Series of Boxing)
and the APB (AIBA Pro Boxing), to encroach on the territory that
has long been the domain of money-making enclaves like the WBC,
WBA, IBF and WBO. But neither the APB nor WSB could steal the
thunder from the established pro organizations. Dr. Wu needed an
icon to lead the AIBA charge and Pacquiao would’ve been the
perfect Richard the Lionheart to lead the crusade”.
The newspaper continued: “If Pacquiao decided to fight in Rio,
he wouldn’t have had to go through qualifiers. AIBA has five
wildcard tickets to allocate in men’s boxing and one was
conveniently in the light welterweight class which would’ve been
Pacquiao’s division. Pacquiao would’ve been given a free ride to
As for Pacquiao’s withdrawal, he said it was to prioritize his
legislative obligations, now that he’s a Senator. The pulse was
50-50. So it appears that Pacquiao chose the path of least
resistance, nothing wrong with that. He decided to end his
Olympic dream for the country in favor of another patriotic
mission – to serve in the Senate full-time, without boxing
distractions, at least for the time being. The decision not to
fight in Rio, however, doesn’t mean Pacquiao won’t ever stage a
ring comeback, perhaps for one more outing – a rematch with
Floyd Mayweather, Jr.”
Among former top Amateurs are many who later had very successful
Pro careers including but not restricted to, Muhammad Ali, Joe
Frazier, George Foreman, Lennox Lewis, Oscar De La Hoya and
And finally, here is an exchange of correspondence between WBC,
IOC and AIBA: