THE decision of AIBA —the Alliance of Boxing Associations—the international governing body for the sport under the umbrella of the International Olympic Committee—continues to take a beating from various professional boxing organizations and renowned world champions, led by former heavyweight king Lennox Lewis.
As of this writing, we haven’t seen the entry of any pro boxer in the final qualifier in Vargas, Venezuela, while a couple of boxers from the hotbed of warrior fighters, Mexico, have announced their withdrawal.
In short, the short-sighted effort of AIBA president Dr. Wu Ching-Kuo has fallen flat on its face.
In fairness to Dr. Wu, the approval of the entry of professional boxers into the Olympics beginning in Rio this August was rushed, far too close to the final qualifier and the games themselves.
Just the other day, the International Boxing Federation announced a strong stand against allowing pro boxers to fight in the Olympic Games and warned of the dangers of such a move.
The IBF stand was discussed last week during a meeting of the IBF’s executive officers and Board of Directors following preliminary discussions during the IBF Convention in Beijing, China in May, when the IBF Medical Committee members and ringside physician Dr. Paul Wallace presented the organization with a letter he sent to AIBA’S president Dr. Wu by Dr. Raymond Monsell, chairman of the Association of Ringside Physicians and Dr. Harry Lovelace, president of the Association of Ringside Physicians.
In the letter, the doctors addressed the dangers faced by an amateur boxer competing against a professional boxer and in particular referred to the skill level, the difference in scoring amateur bouts compared to pro bouts and the use of head gear.
In a statement we received, the IBF said that upon reviewing the medical opinions put forth in the letter and conferring with other individuals and organizations involved in the sport, the IBF believes there is an inherent risk with professionals competing against amateurs.
It stated that while the IBF/USBA Rules governing championship contests do not specifically address pro boxers competing against amateur boxers, the organization will apply its rules 5 and 14 in addressing any situation, where an IBF champion or fighter rated by the IBF, chooses to \compete as a boxer in the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio.
Rule 5 of the IBF/USBA Rules Governing Championship Contest says: “A Champion and Challenger must at all times set high ideals and act in a sportsmanlike manner. Any action by a Champion, Challenger promoter, manager or cornerman which reflects poorly on the IBF/USBA or the sport of boxing will subject the contestant to the imposition of discipline and penalties. The provisions of Rule 14 will be applied to any such situation.”
Rule 14 of the IBF/USBA Rules Governing Championship Contest cites: “Should any Champion or Challenger be found in violation of any of the rules of the IBF/USBA, he may be removed from the rankings for a period of not less than one (1) year. Should any Champion, Challenger, promoter, cornerman or manager be found to have acted in an unsportsmanlike or unprofessional manner as provided in Rule
5 (IBF and USBA championship, elimination and unification bouts) by a majority vote of the Board of Directors, the Champion or the Challenger may be subject to fine, forfeiture of monies, vacation of title, lowering or removal from the ratings or any other discipline directed by the Board of Directors. Any boxer, promoter, cornerman or manager subjected to discipline under this rule has a right to appeal the finding of a violation or the imposition of discipline, or both, under Rule 12, Appeal Procedure.”
Essentially, an IBF Champion or fighter included in the IBF ratings that chooses to participate in the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio will be found in violation of rule 5 and their participation in these games will be considered unsportsmanlike behavior due to the potential risks involved with amateur boxers competing against professional boxers.
An IBF Champion found in violation of rule 5 will have the title vacated and will be removed from the ratings for one year, and an IBF rated fighter will be removed from the ratings for one year.
IBF president Darryl Peoples said “Making this decision was not difficult for us. We felt it was important for the IBF to get involved and take a stance against professional boxers competing against amateurs due to safety concerns as part of our commitment to this sport is to promote the health and well-being of the boxers.”
Earlier, the World Boxing Council said any champion, contender or fighter rated in the Top 15 in any weight division who competes in the Olympic Games will be banned for two years from fighting in WBC events.
Obviously, the pro boxing organizations are using their influence to prevent implementation of what they sincerely believe is a poor decision by AIBA.