A RADICAL change could see professional boxers entering the Olympic Games, as soon as Rio 2016.
Speaking in an exclusive interview in next week’s Boxing News magazine, Dr. Ching-Kuo Wu, president of AIBA, the governing body of the Olympic sport, explained how the process could work. Currently the proposal to make professional boxers eligible for the Olympic Games is a recommendation to come out of last week’s AIBA Commissions meeting. To allow pro boxers into the Olympics, AIBA would have to ratify this recommendation by changing its rules and statutes. It is possible for that to take place ahead of the Rio Olympic Games. AIBA will call an Extraordinary Congress, expected for June 1, to vote on the change.
There is an Olympic qualification event open to boxers from their existing pro style formats, World Series Boxing and AIBA Pro Boxing. That tournament (in which each bout would be three-three minute rounds) was scheduled for May but its dates would be changed to see it held as the last qualification event. It could be put back to late June or early July, although the Olympic Games themselves begin in August.
If the rule change is made, as expected, individual national federations would be able to, but by no means obliged to, select current pro boxers for their team going to this final qualification event. The pro boxers would still need to do well enough in this tournament, where the final 26 places for Rio 2016 will be on offer, to qualify for the Olympics.
AIBA therefore would give national federations the option to select pros for their own Olympic programme and the team they put forward for the final qualification event. “For the Olympic Games [national federations could] consider other professionals if they want to come but they have to fit into our system,” Dr. Wu said. “The other professional boxers have to go through the system and get qualified, get their national federation’s support in order to be qualified. If you look at the design of this, it’s very difficult [to qualify].
“We certainly consult with all the national federations. We had a survey. In this survey’s feedback more than 90% of the national federations all confirmed their support.”
Some big names have voiced an interest in entering the Olympic Games, although it’s too early to say whether any would go through this process. “I think many good professional boxers made their comments. Manny Pacquiao was at our World championships last year. He already expressed his strong desire to go to the Olympic Games. Now this time he reconfirms again. Will he be in the Olympic Games? Maybe, if like everybody he qualifies and the national federation supports him and puts him into the qualifier, he would have the chance to go to the Olympic Games. [Wladimir] Klitschko, certainly many media already report he openly expressed his desire. Nothing new and many others also start to express they want to come,” Dr. Wu said.