Mixed views over professional boxers competing at Olympics

Special Report by Ben Law

Professional boxers could be allowed to compete in the Rio Olympics if a new proposal goes ahead.

The Amateur International Boxing Association (AIBA) president Dr Ching-Kuo revealed plans to amend the qualification rules which would allow established boxers to take part.

The move would be controversial as it would be a move away from tradition as the Olympics is seen as a platform for young amateur fighters to showcase their talent.

There is also a change to the rules of the fight as the boxers will have to wear professional standard gloves and will no longer wear a head guard for the first time in 32 years.

Boxing has had a long history in the Olympics and has featured in every Games since its introduction in 1904.

The AIBA president gave his reasons for the proposal and 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.

A spokesman for the British Amateur Boxing Association has welcomed the news and said: “The proposals have the potential to broaden the talent pool from which we are able to select boxers and we look forward to hearing more about them in due course.”

Qualifying is already underway and has seen 60 boxers already secure their place for Rio, but the rule change could still come in time to allow big names such as Floyd Mayweather and Wladimir Klitschko to qualify.

Klitschko has already expressed his interest in potentially having another shot at the Olympics this year having previously won gold in 1996.

Allowing professionals to compete in the Olympics would certainly raise interest in the sport during the summer games but it could lose the sense of intrigue of watching youngsters come through the ranks on the world stage.

Factfile:
  • Before the 2013 rule change Olympic boxers had to be between the ages of 17-34, however this has now been changed to 17-40
  • Beijing 2008 was the last Olympics which didn’t allow females to compete in the boxing
  • America are the most successful nation at boxing in the Olympics with 50 gold medals, followed by Cuba and Great Britain
  • 1988 Olympic Champion Lennox Lewis has branded the proposal as “preposterous”

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