AIBA wants professional boxers in Olympics
Next to track and field, boxing is one of the most popular sports in the Olympic Games and over the past year, boxers from all over the world have been trying to qualify for the Games in Rio. The boxing programme will run from August 6- 21, and will be held in Pavilion 6, of the Rio Centro Arena.
Many years ago, National Federations could enter any boxer they thought to be good enough to attend the games, but this has changed, and the sport is now allotted 250 athletes, 204 men and 36 women, by the International Olympic Committee (IOC). The men box in 10 weight divisions and women in three. At last count the International Boxing Association (AIBA) had 195 members, so it can be seen how keen the competition is to get on to the list for the Games.
In the male category, boxers qualify from three streams. There is AIBA Open boxing (AOB) which was formerly called AIBA amateur boxing, there is the World Series of Boxing (WSB) which is semi-professional team boxing and AIBA Professional Boxing (APB) which is their professional arm of the sport.
As a result of this expansion, there have been several rule changes in the sport over the past few years and another important change seems to be in the offing. AIBA has stated that it believes that like many other sports, their professionals should be allowed to participate in the Olympics, but although the Games are not far away, it is still not clear how this is going to be done.
AIBA has, however, called an Extraordinary General meeting on June 1, to be held in Lausanne, Switzerland, to discuss and vote on a proposal that would allow this to happen. AIBA Statute 13 (J) at this time effectively prohibits boxers who have competed in non-AIBA professional boxing from going to the Olympics. The proposal to be voted on at the meeting, is to delete this statute, which will in turn allow for professional boxers to participate.
It is expected that the statute will be removed, after which AIBA will make a ruling on just what will happen. There are valid arguments for and against professional boxers being allowed to participate in the Games at this time, and no doubt the debate will get more intense after June 1.
To date, 201 boxers from 58 countries have qualified for the Games. The other remaining places will be decided in three more tournaments. The final tournament for females, the Women's World Championships, was held in Astania took place in Astana, Kazakhstan. Jamaica had an entrant, flyweight Sara-Joy Rae, who lives in Switzerland. She, however, lost in the first round to Yana Burym of Belarus.
The men have two more tournaments, one AOB and the other APB. The AOB tournament will take place in Baku, Azerbaijan from June 16-26. The dates and venue for the APB tournament, which is for the professional boxers, is to be announced. This will quite likely happen shortly after the June 1 vote.