Boxing: Could the Pro Ranks Be Invited to Compete in the 2016 Rio Olympics?
It has been reported in various news outlets that professional boxers could be allowed the chance to compete in the summer Olympics from 2016 onwards in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil.
It is unlikely though that you will get to see Manny Pacquiao, Floyd Mayweather and friends blasting their way towards Olympic gold.
The International Amateur Boxing Association (AIBA) are entering the professional ranks of boxing in order to prevent amateur boxers leaving for the paid ranks straight after major Olympic success.
Since the late 1940's the AIBA has been responsible for governing boxing in the Olympic games.
Many amateur boxers tend to assume that they have to leave the amateur ranks once they are successful in order to progress in the boxing world. To counter this the AIBA introduced the World Series of Boxing (WSA) which is a step between the professional and amateur ranks. The WSA is about to start its second season.
The WSA involves fighters of any nationality fighting for a 'team' comprising of no more than 20 boxers. A match consists of five bouts with each bout having five rounds of three minutes. No head guards are used and three judges are used for scoring.
The bouts are presented as if they were professional contests. There are five weight classes from Bantamweight up to Heavyweight.
As well as the WSA tournaments, the AIBA are introducing a APB system which will see an emphasis placed on individual glory rather than boxing as a team. This elite category will be an almost professional rank.
The proposed APB system will have its first season from early 2013. At this time professional boxers will be allowed to join provided they meet limited terms and conditions.
From this it would appear that the AIBA seem to opening the doors to pro boxers out there who would like the opportunity to compete in the Olympic Games.
And the International Olympic Committee (IOC) have not ruled out that professional boxers could be allowed to compete at the Olympics.
Obviously it would mean that the pro boxer would still have to don the head guard to have a shot at Olympic gold. But since the AIBA don't refer to the Olympics as an 'amateur' competition it would mean that they can open it up to whoever they want although it is seen as an amateur event.
It is unlikely though that many major professional boxers would join the WSB or APB system in order to get to the Olympics because there is little money at the moment to justify it. Also it seems very unlikely a well paid boxer would enjoy fighting in a team sport against amateur opposition.
Naturally many national amateur boxing organisations around the world are furious. According to BBC Sport, the British Amateur Boxing Association has called for a commission to look into this move by the AIBA.
It may be that the national organisations are worried that with the door now slightly opened by the AIBA, it could precipitate the full professional ranks forcing their way into the Olympics in the future.
The obvious comparison is that of the professional ranks being able to compete in Basketball which resulted in the USA's Dream Team of 1992 winning Olympic Gold in Barcelona.
Maybe it could be good for boxing. But if the AIBA fail to keep the door well guarded, what could the implications be for amateur boxing?
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