Pro boxers in 2016 Olympic GamesBy June Navarro |Philippine Daily Inquirer
TAIPEI—The International Boxing Association (Aiba) executive board has approved a new program that will allow professional boxers to participate in the Olympics starting with the 2016 Rio De Janeiro Games.
Aiba president Dr. Ching-Kuo Wu revealed the new Olympic thrust to Amateur Boxing Association of Philippines president Ricky Vargas and secretary general Patrick Gregorio during their meeting yesterday at the head office of the world governing body for the sport here.
Dubbed “Boxing 16,” Wu said the program has the blessing of the International Olympic Committee and will be ratified by the Aiba Congress during the Aiba World Championship next month in Baku, Azerbaijan.
“Boxing 16 is a project initiated by Aiba to carry out various revolutionary strategies in order to truly govern boxing at all levels, develop a massive grassroots foundation to sustain a continuous high level of production of boxers,” said Wu, who was scheduled to leave for Incheon, Korea after his meeting with Vargas and Gregorio.
“It was also created to upgrade the global image and reputation of boxing and Aiba to take the sport back to its ‘Golden Age.’ All of these are designed to accomplish Aiba’s missions by 2016 in Rio,”added Wu.
Aiba’s Boxing 16 will involve three major components—the Amateur Olympic Boxing (AOB), World Series of Boxing (WSB) and Aiba Professional Boxing (APB).
AOB is assigned specifically for the events leading to the Olympics, the WSB is a prizefight event pitting pro boxers from all countries under the Aiba while the APB takes care of amateur boxers aspiring to become professionals.
“We hope Boxing 16 will redefine all different rules into a single, integrated system controlled by one governing body,” said Wu.
There are restrictions for pros, according to the Aiba website. Eligible pro boxers should be at least 19-34 years old during the Olympics and must also be a regular competitor in the APB within the last three years.
He must not be affiliated with any professional organizations outside of the APB, meaning those who fought in the WBC, WBA, IBF and other professional organizations are automatically disqualified.
“We’ve been seeing our talented amateur boxers turning pro for understandable reasons. This new program will give others a chance to win a medal while earning money on the side,” said Vargas, who also sits as Maynilad president.
“It’s a welcome development, a breath of fresh air for Philippine boxing and a big boost to our Olympic campaign because we will now have an abundant source of amateur and pro boxers combined,” said Gregorio.