Exclusive: WBC’s Mauricio Sulaiman talks Rio 2016 fallout, urges AIBA to reconsider changes
WBC President Mauricio Sulaiman has followed up his recent World Boxing Council ‘12th Round’ column by reiterating his position on the current state of the International Association of Amateur Boxing (AIBA).
Sulaiman was fiercely opposed to recent changes to allow boxers to compete without head guards, along with the even more controversial move to allow professional fighters the opportunity to qualify for Rio 2016.
As the dust has now settled on the tournament, which will be remembered in a less positive light than AIBA would have liked, Sulaiman believes it’s only the younger fighters who will ultimately suffer as the AIBA push further towards the professional side of the sport.
“The AIBA made a change to remove head guards. They expected the fighters to adjust to something that is simply not doable,” Sulaiman exclusively told World Boxing News.
“They cannot kill the dreams of a fighter who is just growing up and dreaming of winning a gold medal by trying to be more like a boxing promoter. They do not need to be a promoter and don’t need to be involved in the finances of the fighters either.
“Making a young fighter participate under the same conditions and physical structure as a world champion who has been in the ring for many years at ten and twelve rounds against tremendous opposition. It is two completely different things.
“In boxing, it’s not a game so you can really get hurt. We saw so many cuts at the Olympic Games and it has changed completely the way the Olympic Games are.
“I don’t believe the athletes were given the opportunity to really show what they have to offer. I saw some talent and a lot of great moments of heart but every time you started to feel good about it, in comes another scandal. There were instances of terrible refereeing in some fights and judging in others.
“We don’t want to be negative and really try to be positive but we cannot support something that doesn’t showcase the talent of our athletes.
“I like the scoring system change as it’s a very positive step. The old computerized way was very confusing. The ten-point must system is a good system but even with that system they need to make it more clear.”
Asked about AIBA’s post-Olympic consideration to boost the amount of judges from three to five, Sulaiman agreed that more officials would be a positive step for Tokyo in 2020 – but wanted proper preparation.
“The more judges they have the better but who are those five judges going to be? – They need training, need to have a clear system and AIBA should be back to basics to dedicate all their efforts into amateur boxing.
“We would then participate one hundred percent in whatever is good for the sport. But AIBA cannot say that amateur boxing no longer exists. They should concentrate on supporting amateur boxing all over the world and help young fighters in competition to reach their goal of fighting in the Olympics.
“We have been voicing this for years. You cannot be a sanctioning organisation and be involved in promoting and managing of fighters. It’s a tremendous conflict. Many of the people making those decisions don’t know the sport and If they concentrate on what amateur boxing is, developing boxers around the world, this would be the best way forward.
“Fighters need years to be prepared in the process of being amateur, then going to the Olympics after a few years before trying to become a world champion.
“AIBA has a great opportunity to take what they have and make it great. They have the medals in their hands, fighter’s dreams in their hands and they are simply looking the wrong way.
“They need to re-write their plans and concentrate solely on amateur boxing. At the moment amateur boxing is politics and professional boxing is sports,” said Sulaiman.