(ATR) Olympic boxing’s governing body AIBA and the World Boxing Council (WBC) are verbally sparring over plans to allow full professional boxers the opportunity to qualify for the Rio Games in August.
AIBA confirmed last week that president C.K. Wu is planning an extraordinary congress this May "to agree on the new rules that would open up Olympic Games eligibility for all boxers. "
WBC president Mauricio Sulaiman pulled no punches in a harsh criticism of the plan, calling it "the shameful lowest stage that AIBA has reached in the entire history of Olympic boxing."
"Boxing cannot be considered without keeping separate amateur and professional boxing, for the most basic principle of safety, by avoiding such dangerous mismatches between experienced professional fighters and amateur boxers." Sulaiman said in a statement. "This is something AIBA is not able to understand, because it seems their leadership does not have a clue of what boxing really means and represents."
AIBA wasted little time in responding to the verbal salvo by Sulaiman, issuing a statement of its own.
"The decision to study pro-eligibility at Olympic Games level is guided by the vision of AIBA President Dr Ching-Kuo Wu, who is constantly working to unite the boxing family and create the best possible platform for our boxers to thrive upon. "
"AIBA will be working unreservedly with the National Federations and AIBA Commissions before the Extraordinary Congress to ensure that any decision taken will contribute to the undisputed growth of our sport, and that the Rio 2016 Olympic Games will be of the highest level for the enjoyment of boxing fans worldwide."
Even if AIBA passes the new rules to allow professionals to qualify, it is doubtful we would see a large number of them in Rio.
That’s because many boxers have already qualified for Rio through the current system and there are only a limited number of spots available.
In addition, while AIBA wants to let each individual federation pick their own fighters, each federation would almost certainly have to alter its own qualification guidelines in order to take advantage of the new rules. That could take additional weeks and leave little or no time for any sort of qualification process.
Written by Gerard Farek
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