Boxing is a founding sport of the original Olympics from Greece and has been one of the mayor attractions in the modern Olympic Games.
The Olympic glory has been fundamental stage in some of the greatest world champions in history. Muhammad Ali, Joe Frazier, George Foreman, Sugar Ray Leonard, Oscar de la Hoya and Lennox Lewis, just to name a few, were Olympic medalists.
Olympic boxing, however, has been tarnished in recent years with scandals and accusations, with terrible officiating and with a confusing plan to become involved in professional boxing, with only commercial vision, which have led the sport of boxing to be at the lowest levels in amateur competition ever
Many scandals and questioned officiating led to horrible injustices, for example Roy Jones Jr., Evander Holyfield, Floyd Mayweather and Jeff Fenech and many others who were robbed of the Olympic glory.
In recent years AIBA, who is the international association responsible to organize Olympic competition, has been constantly changing its rules, which they apply worldwide with tremendous inconsistences.
My father, Jose Sulaiman, who was President of the WBC for 38 years and who always had the safety of the athletes as the only concern, was very active in pointing the several negative actions by AIBA.
Today the boxing world is facing AIBA proposal to allow professional boxers to compete in the Olympics.
The WBC wrote a letter to the IOC, which was responded by directing the WBC to communicate with AIBA directly as sole responsible of Olympic competitions.
The WBC representing the opinion and concern of thousands around the world, is absolutely opposed to having professional boxers compete in the Olympic Games of Rio, which is only 78 days from now.
There are many unanswered facts about this step but all leads to the danger of allowing a mature professional fighter facing a young unexperienced fighter.
AIBA is using the names of Manny Pacquiao, Wladimir Klitschko, Andre Ward, Canelo Alvarez and Julio Cesar Chavez, Jr. as candidates to compete in the Olympic Games.
There are so many uncertain factors about eligibility and competition format, which is proof that AIBA is rushing into a decision, which could lead to tragic consequences.
The WBC has spoken to many fighters who have expressed their opinion.
“Letting professional versus amateur boxers is a real crime. It is attacking the very roots of boxing; it endangers the lives and careers of young talented boxers and AIBA is behind this madness for money. The people must raise their voice against this measure and professional boxers should not even consider this criminal offering. Let’s create a common front in benefit of boxing”. Julio Cesar Chavez.
“Olympic boxing is built for amateurs and is the highest achievement you can get, alongside being world amateur champion. All of a sudden you could have a scenario where someone like former world heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko, who won Olympic gold in Atlanta and has so much experience, could go up against a kid of 18 who has had just 10 fights”. Lennox Lewis.
All it’s going to take is one 17-year-old kid from Sweden fighting an American 30-year old current world champion, puts the poor kid into a coma and then everyone will ask: why did you allow that to happen? Obviously it is a contact sport so why would you allow that 17-year-old boy to fight this 30-year-old man who has already won the Olympics 10 years ago? What’s the point?”. David Haye.
“AIBA has done it… They are now the terrorists of boxing, mercenaries that risk the life of young boys that dream with the Olympic glory by matching them against professional boxers. Our humanitarian obligation is to fight and put an end to these absurd practices that prioritize economic interests over the human life. Let’s create a common front in benefit of boxing” Sergio “Maravilla” Martinez.
“I think it is not wise to allow professionals on the Olympics. The Olympic games are a great motivation and if this happens the dream will end. It may occur a tragedy. Professional fighters have more capacity, better technique. Boxing is a process, if you remove the headgear from the amateurs and allow professionals to fight them, a tragedy may occur” Jorge “Travieso” Arce.
“I fought in the Olympics 8 years ago, you can not allow fights between professionals or world champions and young amateur fighters. That would be a big risk” Badou Jack, WBC super middleweight champion.
“Amateurs should not fight professionals, they are in a process and they can easily get hurt, it wont be a fair fight, I would not do it, removing the headgear from amateurs is a huge mistake, the idea is to make boxing safer, not to let them get hurt due to commercial interests”. Larry Holmes.
“Professional boxing is an art, is an exact way of winning or losing with skills, effort and technique. As amateur you are in a learning stage, the fights are scored different. You cannot compare both, for this kind of egoistic initiatives fatal accidents could happen. At the end of the day, amateur fighters are not familiar on what professional boxing is, that would be a great disadvantage to happen on the Olympics. They don’t have the skills, the training, experience. I don’t understand this, professionals have a lot of advantages over amateurs”. Erik Morales.
“It is madness, I agree with Mauricio, we must not have fights between pro´s and amateurs. They would be dumping to the garbage all the illusion of the young fighters; they would be trampling on the dreams of amateurs. The professionals have a lot of experience and I think that definitively, the punches are really different. A big tragedy may happen. We should continue as now, amateurs vs. amateurs and pro´s vs. pro´s”. Marco Antonio Barrera.
IOC has stepped out of the matter and directed AIBA to make all decisions. June the 1st will be the day on which the delegates of AIBA will vote about this matter and will be certainly a day on which all voting delegates will have in their hands the safety and well being of the amateur fighters of the world.