WBC will ban fighters who participate in Rio Olympics

WBC will ban fighters who participate in Rio Olympics

By Daniel Zaldivar

June 3, 2016



The International Boxing Association (AIBA) recently voted to allow professional fighters to participate in the upcoming Rio Olympic games and the World Boxing Council (WBC) is not taking it lightly.

This has been a topic of debate for the past several months, especially since a prominent figure such as Manny Pacquiao expressed his interest in competing. The AIBA reiterated its support to ensure the globe's best athletes are eligible to compete in the Olympic games. 

This move will ensure the empowerment of National Federations and enhance all future competitions including the Olympic Games. Our mission is to continue to make brave decisions in the best interest of our boxers and for the good for the sport.
— AIBA President Dr Ching-Kuo Wu

The WBC came out in immediate opposition, even before the decision was made official. After the news broke of the change, the Mexico City based governing body [WBC] did not hold back in flexing their muscle. Any ranked top 15 fighter or champion within the WBC that participates in the upcoming games will experience a ban from the WBC, according to the statement released on their website. Many current and former fighters have shared their same sentiment. Names like Julio Ceasar Chavez Sr., David Haye, Badou Jack, and Lennox Lewis are also not in favor of the latest decision. The WBC released a statement via their website detailing their opposition stance and how they feel it negatively affects the sport and the Olympic games. 

To have an amateur boxer VS a professional boxer is like having a marathon runner VS a Sprint 100-meter runner, both are runners but they compete in different sports and disciplines.
— WBC

One of the primary arguments in support of the ruling is the fact that other games allow professional athletes to participate. Sports such as basketball, tennis, and soccer are just some of the instances where this is the case. However, the WBC says these games are "played" and there is large difference in the concept of physically fighting.  

Basketball, tennis, soccer and other sports have “Pros VS Amateurs” in Olympics, the difference is that in Boxing, there are no goals, baskets or points, “YOU DONT PLAY BOXING.” Boxing is a combat sport and if the level of opposition is not properly matched, it can be very dangerous. Professional boxing is structured by levels of competition, 4-round fighters, 6-rd, 8-rd, 10-rd and eventually championship fights for 12 rounds. One can only hope that AIBA will filter which professionals will participate in RIO.
— WBC
WBC President Mauricio Sulaimán poses with a title at the Canelo-Khan press conference on March 2, 2016. Photo: Harvey Feliciano - Z-BoxingNews/FrontProofMedia.com

WBC President Mauricio Sulaimán poses with a title at the Canelo-Khan press conference on March 2, 2016. Photo: Harvey Feliciano - Z-BoxingNews/FrontProofMedia.com

Before this recent decision, the sport of boxing was one of the only sports that did not allow professional athletes to compete in the Olympic games. Some of the most legendary fighters competed in the Olympic games before jumping into their professional careers. Muhammad Ali, Sugar Ray Leonard, and Oscar De La Hoya are some of the more recognized former boxers who won gold medals. Current Olympic gold medal winners such as light-heavyweight Andre Ward and featherweight Vasyl Lomanchenko are currently in the midst of their professional careers and like many before them, have benefited from the Olympic games. 

The WBC, who is headed by Mauricio Sulaimán, is potentially open to the idea if strict guidelines and safety measure can be put into place. They believe they're too many "unanswered questions" and that the competition format should have been a long thought-out process before coming to a final verdict. 

The AIBA is the only official body of boxing that is recognized (and has been) by the International Olympic Committee. Regardless of the backlash this decision is seemingly receiving, this is an important change in the sport of boxing within the Olympic games. Whether it is good or bad, only time can tell. But, at this moment, the decision is not being universally acclaimed by the boxing community. When one of the major governing bodies in the sport comes out against something -- this might indicate a problem. However, imagine an amateur pulling off an upset against a professional? The possibility, whether agreeable or not, now exists. 


Daniel Zaldivar is a boxing contributor for Frontproof Media & Page2sports.com. He is the founder and CEO of Z-BoxingNews (a partner with Frontproof Media), a YouTube channel that delivers the latest news, interviews, fighter workouts, & analysis within the sport. Check out the Z-BoxingNews YouTube channel HERE. Also follow on Twitter @Z_BoxingNews

(Feature photo: Joe Camporeale/USA TODAY Sports)

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