Olympic silver medalist Roy Jones Jr. entered the political ring earlier this month in defense of Olympic boxing. The 53-year-old penned an open letter to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) labeling the potential exclusion of boxing from the 2028 Summer Olympics a “crime.”
“I cannot remain silent when boxing is not represented in the LA 2028 initial program,” argued Jones Jr. “To exclude boxing from the Olympic Games would be nonsense, it would be no less than committing a crime.”
Boxing has featured at every edition of the Olympic Games since 1920. However, numerous governance and judging scandals have left the historic combat sport beleaguered.
A scandal ridden presidential election, controversial sponsorship with Gazprom, and two separate suspensions as organizer of the Olympic boxing tournament, among other scandals, have left amateur boxing’s international governing body, the International Boxing Association (IBA), in poor standing with the IOC.
In his letter, Jones Jr. argued, “the new IBA doesn’t like empty talks, but actions. The work carried out in little less than two years is tremendous, and we all have been able to witness it.”
However, many in the Olympic Movement still hold doubts about the global association’s ability to effectively and ethically govern boxing at the Olympic level.
In an interview with PTI earlier this week, Jones Jr. outlined his concerns for the future of boxing if the sport were to be excluded from the Olympic Games.
“So many kids will lose hope, focus and direction,” said Jones Jr. “Look how many boxing superstars the Olympics had produced. It gives boxers and countries the hope of having a new boxing star. With no boxing in the Olympics, where will that hope come from?”
He added, “I was robbed of a gold medal, but the Olympics was my first ever real goal in my young life. If I don’t stand for boxing after all it’s given me, then why even have [I] been given the gift from God? He gave me a gift.”
Jones Jr. dominated the light middleweight category at the Seoul 1988 Summer Olympics. He took a shock loss to home favorite Park Si-hun in the gold medal bout despite landing far more punches. Nonetheless, he would rebound from the controversial loss and go on to have a successful professional career, winning four world titles.
The champion, now turned ambassador for the sport, is campaigning to see boxing readmitted to the Olympic sports program before its exclusion does irreparable damage to amateur boxing.
He is spearheading a social media campaign, #STANDFORBOXING, to rally support for the beleaguered sport, telling his followers, “boxing gave [to] us all, it’s high time we gave boxing everything.”
It remains to be seen if his efforts will pay off.
A final decision on the sports program for the 2028 Summer Olympics is expected next year.