A statement regarding boxing and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) from Mauricio Sulaiman, president of the WBC:
Boxing is one of the sports found in the original Olympic Games and has been a part of the modern Olympic Games since 1904. Boxing is extremely popular and legendary professional champions such as Muhammad Ali, George Foreman, Sugar Ray Leonard and Oscar Dela Hoya, just to name a few, found their roots in Olympic glory.
AIBA, 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. AIBA modified the nature of boxing in the amateur field and began a process in which they, among other disgraceful measures: i) became managers and promoters of boxers, which is a direct conflict of interest; ii) removed the head guard from competition; iii) orchestrated a corrupt officiating system; and, most importantly, eliminated the distinction between amateur and professional athletes. That last measure allowed professional boxers to qualify and compete in the Olympic Games, starting with Rio 2016.
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 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 IOC is responsible for giving the Olympic Games to the world. Each sport is responsible to organize competitive, clean and safe athlete participation during the Olympic Games. It is now up to Boxing to save itself and collaborate with the IOC to give to the world what it expects from that ancient sport during the Olympic Games.
The IOC appointed a Task Force to oversee the process and competition for Tokyo 2020 under the leadership of Mr. Morinari Watanabe of Japan. The IOC has given each country the responsibility and opportunity to conduct their own qualification process organized by their national Olympic committee in conjunction with the corresponding national boxing federation.
It is the absolute responsibility of each nation to produce the talent which will have the opportunity to compete for Olympic glory.
It is understandable that the IOC would not get into complicated details of the sport of boxing and has carried on with the rules established by AIBA for Rio 2016. Boxing is struggling with the burden of AIBA’s collapse and failure, as well as AIBA’s actions which were contrary the health and safety of the athletes … but 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.
The WBC conducted a world consultation within Boxing Federations, Boxing Commissions, promoters, managers, trainers, media, fans, and most importantly boxers, both amateur and professional. 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 conclusion was clear and unanimous: NO PROFESSIONAL BOXER SHOULD COMPETE AGAINST AMATEUR FIGHTERS, LIMITS SHOULD BE PUT ON THE EXPERIENCE OF THE PROFESSIONAL FIGHTERS, BEFORE THIS TOPIC MAY BE REEVALUATED.
* There is no distinction in the definition between one professional fighter and another; there are no levels, limits or criteria: a professional boxer is a professional boxer regardless of whether he or she is a 4-round fighter or a World Champion. However, there are marked differences between a 4-round fighter and a world champion in skill, development, strength, maturity and ability to hurt another and/or be hurt.
* Professional fighters are much more mature and hold superior physical and mental strength when compared with young amateur fighters.
* Professional fighters are required to make weight one-day and for one fight at a time. Amateur fighters to have to remain under a set weight for 15-days or more.
* The mindset and purpose of amateur fighter are to score points. Professional boxing is more about inflicting punishment upon one’s opponent.
* Amateur boxers are motivated by growing as athletes and bringing glory to their locality, region and country. Professional boxers’ motivations are closely linked to business and financial interests.
The WBC Board of governors listened to the opinions and formal positions of many during the open floor meeting and it was unanimously voted to state the official position of the WBC, which represents the voice of the community of boxing worldwide.
It is recommended to all National Olympic Committees and National Boxing Federations to consider the words of concern about the dangerous disparity in level of competition and to organize their national qualification process exclusively with amateur fighters or fighters with very limited professional experience.
For those reasons, the overwhelming majority of countries around the world have already decided that professional boxers will not be allowed in their Olympic teams. Among those countries, most notably listed are:
* USA * Canada * Ukraine
* Japan * Spain * Russia
* Romania * And many more
No Olympic medal is worth a person’s life. The boxing community of the world must be united and support the International Olympic Committee’s efforts to bring back boxing as the major sport that has always been during the Olympic Games.
We respectfully confirm our position and with the hope that all like-minded people stand together for the safety and protection of our athletes.