Pro boxers get green light for Games
Professional boxers will be allowed to participate in the Rio 2016 Olympics. This decision was taken at an Extraordinary Congress of the International Boxing Association (AIBA), which was held in Lausanne, Switzerland, on Wednesday June 1. Delegates from 84 countries participated, and 80 voted for the proposal.
The measure used by AIBA to achieve this goal was to amend Article 13 (J) of their statutes, which effectively prevented professional boxers from participating in the Olympics. The new article gives national associations the right to establish appropriate rules and regulations concerning boxing in their territories, in keeping with the AIBA Statutes, and the right to decide which boxers will participate in national and AIBA competitions.
The effect of giving national associations the right to decide who they will send to AIBA competitions is to remove the specific ban on professional boxers not affiliated with AIBA that existed, and they will now be eligible to participate in all AIBA competitions including the Olympic Games.
In a statement after the successful vote, AIBA president Dr. Chin-Kuo Wu declared that "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".
For the 2016 Rio Games, the number of boxers participating will now be 286. There will be 250 spots for men and 36 for women, and 26 of the male boxers will be professionals. A qualifying tournament for the professional boxers will be held in Vargas, Venezuela, from July 3-8, and the criteria for participating is to be announced by AIBA shortly.
Competition will be in the 10 weight classes for men. Three persons will qualify in the eight weight categories, from light-flyweight up to light-heavyweight, and one each in the heavyweight and super heavyweight categories. The age limit will be from 18 to 40. AIBA also stated that full details for participation in the qualifying tournament will be available shortly.
What this will mean for Jamaica is that some of our professional boxers will be eligible to participate in the qualifying tournament in Venezuela in July, but financing their participation at this short notice could be a challenge.
Contacted by The Gleaner yesterday, Leiza-May Keane, who manages last year's Contender champion, Kemahl Russell, said that it was an interesting development and she would get the details immediately and discuss them with her team.