Sat | Jan 20, 2018

Keen competition was the feature of boxing in Rio

Published:Friday | August 26, 2016 | 12:00 AMLeroy Brown
France’s Tony Victor James Yoka displays his gold medal for the men’s super heavyweight over 91kg boxing at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on Sunday, August 21.
American Claressa Maria Shields (right) celebrates after she won the gold medal for the women’s middleweight 75kg boxing against Netherlands’ Nouchka Fontijn at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on Sunday, August 21.

Boxing in the Rio 2016 Olympics lasted throughout the 16 days of competition from August 5-21 and was marked by both exciting boxing and controversies.

There were complaints about the judging, and two fights in particular - a bantamweight contest between Michael Conlan of Ireland and Vladimir Nikitin from Russia, and a heavyweight contest between Eveny Tishchenko from Russia and Vassiliy Levit from Kazakhstan - drew the ire of thousands of boxing fans.

In the bantamweight contest, Nikitin was awarded the verdict, which took him into the finals, and this has been challenged far and wide as a bad call. The widespread opinion is that Conlan won, and this belief was heightened when Nikitin was unable to fight again because of injuries to his face and lost by walk-over in the semi-final bout.

This was a particularly bad situation as Conlan gave the middle finger salute to the judges before leaving the ring, and after he left, he launched a broadside against the International Boxing Association (AIBA), the ruling body and the officials, calling them corrupt. He announced afterwards that he would be turning professional, but the last has certainly not been heard of this because it is quite likely be brought up on various charges for his behaviour.

In the heavyweight contest, Tishchenko went on to win the gold medal, but public opinion was that it should have been Levit in the finals. In response, the head of AIBA, Dr Ching-Kuo Wu, pointed to the fact that in over 239 bouts at the time of the controversy, "only a handful of bouts" had been targeted for criticism.

Action was, however, taken against some officials. Some referees/judges were excluded from the competition shortly afterwards and reports are that they were sent home. In addition, and this was a major development, the executive director of AIBA, Karim Bouzidi, was removed from his duties at the Olympics and as executive director. He is to be assigned to another position in AIBA, it was announced.


Apart from these few particularly bad days, the boxing competition was keen and exciting and some of the best boxing at the Olympics was put on show. The new scoring system, which is based on the 10-point must scoring system, as in professional boxing, was used, and was very successful.

Boxing fans were treated to very competitive bouts throughout the 16 days, and the boxing venue, Rio Centro Pavilion 6, was always packed with wildly cheering spectators. The addition of professionals was not a very successful move as only three made it to Rio, and they were all defeated early in competition.

At the end of the day, the records will show that medals were won by 19 countries. Uzbekistan pulled off a surprise by topping the medals table with three gold, two silver, and two bronze. Cuba followed with three gold and three bronze. Russia, France, and Colombia were the other gold medal winners in the male section of competition.

In the female section, Claressa Shields from the USA successfully defended her middleweight title, as did Nicola Adams from Britain, the flyweight champion. The new lightweight female champion is Estelle Mossely from France. Shields was again the only gold medal winner in boxing for the USA.

Shields was named the Outstanding Female Boxer of the tournament, and light-flyweight Hasanboy Dusmatov from Uzbekistan was named the Outstanding Male Boxer. They were both awarded the respective Val Baker trophies.