Professionals should be allowed in the Olympics stated International Boxing Association (AIBA) recently. The group wants to allow female and male pro boxers to compete in this year’s Olympics in Brazil. It’s one of two new possible inclusions to Olympic boxing that has irked many in the amateur and pro boxing world.
“To have professionals compete in the Olympics in the sport of boxing is absolutely unacceptable. Athletes don’t play boxing,” said Mauricio Sulaiman, president of World Boxing Council. “Boxing is not about scoring goals or baskets, it is a contact sport.”
Headgear is no longer used in Olympic boxing. Though it’s maintained in the younger age groups, the international tournaments ages 17 and older no longer use headgear.
The California State Athletic Commission disagrees with both the inclusion of pro boxers in the Olympics and the exclusion of headgear.
“Experienced professionals in combat sports with amateurs that are still learning? It’s inappropriate, dangerous and it’s wrong,” said John Carvelli, chair of the CSAC that oversees all pro and amateur fights in California.
Carvelli feels it’s extremely dangerous and could even cause death in some instances.
“To be a professional it takes time and experience. Fighters like (Wladimir) Klitschko, Golovkin, (Manny) Pacquiao spend sometimes 19 years learning what they are supposed to do,” Carvelli said. “They could beat their (amateurs) heads in. No. It’s wrong and ill-advised to put pros in with young amateurs.”
Every year the sport of pro boxing suffers an average of six deaths from fighters in competition. Last year, the first female pro boxer died from injuries suffered in the ring.
Imagine if a heavy-hitting puncher like Golovkin who has knocked out 31 of 34 foes connected on a vulnerable 17-year-old.
On Dec. 20 in Ohio, 19-year-old Hamzah Aljahmi fought in his pro debut and was knocked down three times. He rallied to finish the fight but collapsed after the fourth and final round. The Michigan native, who had 20 amateur fights, died three days later.
“This is different from pro basketball and baseball. This is combat. People get hurt and people die,” said CSAC’s Carvelli, whose state stages more pro boxing events than any other place in the U.S. “To somehow think this is a good idea, I don’t get it.”
Other boxing commissions across the U.S. such as the Nevada State Athletic Commission are studying the situation.
“Our mission is to contact folks who do a great job in the boxing industry and talk about this. It’s wrong. We need to talk to USA Boxing, local boxing councils, and let them know where we stand on this,” said Carvelli. “I talk to a lot of stakeholders in boxing and MMA. I found zero people that think this is a good idea.”
WBC president Sulaiman said people should not be fooled by the possible inclusion of stars in the upcoming Olympics.
“AIBA is misleading the public. Their only interest is commercial and economics,” Sulaiman said. “To announce that any professional may compete in this year’s Olympic games, which is only four months away, is a clear sign of the tremendous failure during the process of qualifications to the Olympics. And they are now desperate trying to catch attention by using names like Pacquiao and Klitschko.”