The International Boxing Association (AIBA) has called on all of its National Federations around the world to drop the term “amateur” from their name as part of the governing bodies’ rapid move towards professional boxing, signaling the end of 132 years of history.
Since taking over as AIBA President in 2006, CK Wu has looked to professionalize the organization. This became clear with the launch of the World Series of Boxing (WSB) in 2010, which is currently the only professional boxing competition in the world that allows participants to retain their Olympic eligibility. At the end of next year, AIBA will launch its ambitious AIBA Pro Boxing (APB) tournament, which will link closely with the WSB.
As part of the revamp, AIBA has called on all its National Federations to drop the word amateur after the AIBA Statutes were amended at the AIBA Extraordinary Congress in September. The history of amateur boxing stretches back to the mid-19th century when it was created partly as a result of the moral controversies surrounding professional prize-fighting.
“As the amendments to adopt the APB Program at AIBA’s and Confederations’ levels have been completed, it is now time for all AIBA Member National Federations to amend their statutes, articles, constitutions or bylaws as they are defined,” said Wu in a letter to all the National Federations. “In 2007, at the AIBA Extraordinary Congress held in Chicago, AIBA had already declared not to use the word of ‘Amateur’ in the organization any longer. Now, even further with the launch of APB, the concept of ‘amateur boxing’ will no longer exist. What was previously known as amateur boxing will, from now on, be known as ‘AIBA Olympic Boxing’ (AOB).
“All AIBA Member National Federations will govern their own AOB and APB Programs in their countries. In order to achieve this, each National Federation must rebrand itself (including changing its name and logo if necessary) and set up a new APB department within the National Federation to handle the day to day running of the APB Program at the national level.
“APB is due to commence toward the end of 2013. Therefore, it is imperative that all National Federations take steps to amend their statutes, articles, constitutions or bylaws and reshape their organization structure in the coming months.
“With regard to those National Federations that already have an existing professional boxing program, they must take steps (to the satisfaction of AIBA) to ensure that such program is subject to the Rules and falls within the structure of APB and get completely transformed within the next five years to an APB Program only.”
The revolutionary move will affect the vast majority of National Federations, including the original governing body, the Amateur Boxing Association of England (ABAE), who will now have to drop “Amateur” from their title, despite having been founded as the Amateur Boxing Association in 1880. The move from AIBA is its latest step in their attempt to stop their best boxers joining the traditional, existing professional boxing ranks following Olympic success.
History has seen many great Olympic boxing champions make hugely successful professional careers, such as the legendary Muhammad Ali – who won the light heavyweight gold medal at Rome in 1960 under the name of Cassius Clay. Other notable names include George Foreman, who won the heavyweight gold medal at Mexico City in 1968, and Sugar Ray Leonard, winner of the light welterweight title at Montreal in 1976. Lennox Lewis, fighting for Canada, won the super heavyweight gold medal at Seoul in 1988 before switching allegiance to Britain and becoming the country’s greatest ever heavyweight.
“AIBA’s mission is clearly stated in its statutes: it is to govern the sport of boxing in all its forms worldwide,” an AIBA spokesperson told insidethegames. “With the launch of AIBA Pro Boxing next year, AIBA National Member Federations will not only govern amateur boxing – what will be now called Olympic boxing – but also professional boxing in their country. Therefore, the use of the word ‘amateur’ in their denomination is not relevant anymore.”
As another part of the move towards professionalism, AIBA will drop head guards and electronic scoring by the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.
Contact the writer of this story at email@example.com. Inside the Games is a blog of the London Organizing Committee that oversaw the recent Summer Olympics. Its writers continue to report on issues affecting the Olympic movement. This article is reprinted here with permission from the editors.