An Olympics First: USA Boxing to Include Professionals in Tokyo

(ATR) IOC Boxing Task Force names three professionals to Team USA's additional quotas.

(ATR) The vast majority of the Olympic boxing tournament slots for the Tokyo Games have been finalized after a hectic elimination process.

Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the IOC Boxing Task Force (BTF) took two difficult decisions: the suspensions of the Americas Pre-Olympic Tournament and the World Qualifier (the European Pre-Olympic Tournament in London, postponed from 2020, was concluded a few days ago in Paris).

The two cancellations forced what would have been an unthinkable process more than a year ago: a bureaucratic method had to replace the results in the ring in the midst of uncertainty.

As a solution, the BTF resorted to the allocation of quotas based on an international ranking that in the case of the Americas corresponded to 49 places for the eight categories in men and five in women.

After the cancellation of the World Pre-Olympic, an additional quota was added in each of the 13 divisions in the four continental zones: Asia/Oceania, Europe, Africa and the Americas, which was the only region that could not hold its competition.

"We had confidence in some talents who could not go to the Pan American Games in Lima but were in great shape to get their qualification but as they did not have a place in the ranking their Olympic dream went up in smoke," complained a Latin American manager.

"But there was no other choice...the epidemiological situation killed those plans," the official admitted to Around the Rings.

Countries that traditionally develop a rigorous national elimination system to choose their national team, such as the United States, also lamented that several of their promising youngsters who had qualified internally had been left out of the road to Tokyo due to the emerging BTF quota process.

In the midst of their upset, USA Boxing learned that the BTF designated Duke Ragan, Keyshawn Davis and Troy Isley to fill three additional quotas and will join Team USA alongside Rashida Ellis, Virginia Fuchs, Naomi Graham, Delante Johnson, Oshae Jones and Richard Torrez Jr. who had secured their Olympic tickets through the world rankings.

Ragan, Davis and Isley, who signed as professionals during the pandemic, achieved outstanding performances between 2017 and 2019 as members of Team USA.

Davis was considered the top U.S. amateur boxer and was a silver medalist at the 2019 AIBA World Championships, a year in which he also stood on the podium at the Pan American Games in Lima alongside Ragan and Isle.

According to Olympics historian Bill Mallon, the three of them will become the first absolute professional boxers to compete for the United States in Olympic Games.

"Basically yes," Mallon tellsATR. "Although in the 1920s, a couple of guys had, allegedly, professional bouts before competing in the Olympics, but they were never confirmed."

In public statements USA Boxing has clarified that this situation does not mean a change in its position on professional boxers competing against amateurs.

"The IOC BTF adopted the AIBA rule that allows professional boxers to compete in the Olympic Games, so USA Boxing must follow the international rules, not our national rules," the organization said.

As of today, for the men's Olympic tournament in Tokyo, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan are the only ones with full teams of eight boxers. Cuba, Great Britain and Russia have seven each while Algeria, Azerbaijan, Dominican Republic, India, Jordan and the United States have five. On the women's side, the United States, Great Britain, Italy, and Chinese Taipei lead, each with four fighters.

Written and reported by Miguel Hernandez

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