By: Sean Crose
If there’s anything that might equal professional boxing in the shaky reputation category, it’s the Olympic Games. Fans from pretty much every country in the world can probably recall at least one time when one of their countrymen was robbed by scoring judges. Gymnastics, figure skating, and other Olympic sports often appear in the hands of officials that comes across as incompetent at best, outright corrupt at worst. This is particularly true in the case of boxing, where fighters getting hosed is almost as common as the awarding of medals. Roy Jones Jr. was probably the most famous victim of horrid judging until Michael Conlon came along and let the whole world know exactly how he felt about the whole matter with his middle fingers.
Now, the World Boxing Council, which itself hasn’t always had the most stellar of reputations, is stepping up to help clean up Olympic Boxing. “Boxing is one of the sports found in the original Olympic Games,” the Council announced in a press release, “and has been a part of the modern Olympic Games since 1904.” The Council went on to assert that “Muhammad Ali, George Foreman, Sugar Ray Leonard and Oscar De la Hoya, just to name a few, found their roots in Olympic glory.”
Yet the Council argues that Olympic Boxing has recently been severely tarnished. “AIBA,” the Council states, “the International Federation in charge of Olympic Boxing competition, fell into disgrace, and in fact ruined amateur boxing with its multiple scandals over the past two decades.” The Council argues the Federation’s biggest sin was that it “allowed professional boxers to qualify and compete in the Olympic Games, starting with Rio 2016.” Yet the press release claims that the Olympic Committee itself has stepped in to help clean things up.
“The international Olympic Committee and its President Thomas Bach have heroically stepped in and have taken unprecedented actions in an attempt to save boxing and its participation in the Olympic Games,” the Council claimed. “The IOC took an aggressive role in investigating AIBA’s operations and, after a process which lasted more than a year, finally suspended AIBA and took away their role as administrators of boxing leading to Tokyo 2020.”
The press release makes clear the Council itself has become engaged in the issue. “On Tuesday, October 22nd, during the WBC 57th annual convention in Cancun, Mexico, a very lively discussion took place which involved delegates from all over the world,” the release stated. “The conclusion was clear and unanimous: NO PROFESSIONAL BOXER SHOULD COMPETEAGAINST AMATEUR FIGHTERS, LIMITS SHOULD BE PUT ON THE EXPERIENCE OF THEPROFESSIONAL FIGHTERS, BEFORE THIS TOPIC MAY BE REEVALUATED.”
The Council went on to offer a list of countries that will not send professional boxers to the Olympics. Ultimately, the WBC argued that “now there is a great opportunity for boxing to find the right path and bring back the Olympic dream to the minds of the young athletes of the world.”
“It is now up to Boxing to save itself,” the Council stated.