Boxing in the United States is almost a forgotten sport. But globally boxing still matters and the International Olympic Committee and the International Boxing Association are duking it out with the World Boxing Council over the inclusion of professional boxers in the Olympics.
The World Boxing Council is threatening to suspend any professional boxer who takes part in this summer’s Rio Olympics. The fighting group is of the opinion that professional boxers should not be in the same ring as amateurs because there would be dangerous mismatches between the pros and the amateurs and that could result in bad things happening to amateur fighters. The issue came up in February with the International Boxing Association planning to change its constitution and allow professional boxers with 15 of fewer professional fights to compete in the Summer Olympics providing a deal with the International Boxing Association. It is easy to see why the Olympics wants pros, they are established and some could bring their marketing partners into the Olympics and bring additional cash. The WBC released a statement condemning the whole thought: “It is not possible to imagine, much less accept a fight between professional boxers, who already have a physical development and more advanced technical skills, facing young fighters that are just starting this process. Boxing is not a game. There is no scoring with goals or baskets. Rather, it is a contact sport which must be taken seriously. Reasoning must prevail, the function of all bodies must be to always care for and regulate the safety and healthcare of boxers.” Boxing was once a big draw in the Olympics with a good number of medal winning champions going onto having big careers in the sport and that list includes Cassius Clay in 1960 before he changed his name to Muhammad Ali, George Foreman and Evander Holyfield.
The boxing bout is just another Rio 2016’s many problems.
Republished with permission Evan Weiner for The Politics of Sports Business