Home Sports Mixed reactions trail AIBA’s decision to feature professionals in Olympics

Mixed reactions trail AIBA’s decision to feature professionals in Olympics


Lagos –  Some boxing buffs on Friday in Lagos expressed mixed reactions over the decision of the world boxing governing body to allow professional boxers compete in the Rio de Janeiro Olympics.

The International Boxing Association (AIBA) had on June1 ruled that professional boxers would feature at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games in Brazil.

The decision was made with 84 out of the 88 members’ federations voting in favour of AIBA’s proposal to amend its Eligibility Rule 13 of boxing in the Olympics.

To that effect a total of 26 entries for the Rio Games can be earned at an Olympics qualifying tournament coming up in Venezuela in August.

Meanwhile, the enthusiasts who spoke to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) argued on the negative and positive results it portends for the sport.

Remi Aboderin, the Regional President, West Africa Boxing Union told NAN that he was dissatisfied with the decision, as it would destroy boxing at the grassroots.

He said that it would be suicidal to allow an experienced boxer to trade punches with a beginner for a gold medal.

According to him, the professional boxer is used in the big money involved in his fight as compared with amateur boxer who sees medal as his hallmark.

Nigeria’s West Africa and Commonwealth champion, Isaac ‘Grenade’ Ekpo described the decision as erratic.

He noted that it would kill the spirit of upcoming boxers if paired with established professionals.

“This should not be allowed, it cannot bring development to boxing in general, because the amateur level and the professional level are two distinct ends of boxing.

“When one is just beginning and learning the skills, the other is already at the stardom and is used to the big moments of boxing, indeed they are not comparable.

“It is like doing injustice to the boxers as the professionals will always use the advantage of his power punch which is not often seen in the armature level,’’ Ekpo said.

Coach Sunday Nwamada who had handled many reputable boxers at the armature level said it would bring development to boxing.

He urged the Nigeria Boxing Board of Control (NBB of C) to adopt whatever rules and structure put in place by AIBA, stressing that it would enable amateur boxers to work harder.

“This is a very important development in boxing; the amateur boxers need to understand the importance and attraction placed on them at the amateur level.

“It will also reduce redundancy on the part of the amateurs and create more competition for them especially when boxers can compete in the Round Four of Five schedule fights.

“I don’t think there will be any problem of being mismatched since boxers are paired on their weight category,’’ Nwamada said.

Coach Yusuf Shehu, a national handler with many established boxers at both levels, said that it may help the armatures to develop but that it would reduce competence of the professionals.

“It will bring about development for upcoming boxers to try and work harder to beat already established boxers.

“However, it threatens the credibility of the professionals once they lose to amateurs,’’ Shehu said.

Nigeria’s Efe Ajagba is the only qualified boxer that will fly the nation’s flag at the coming Olympics having won gold medal in the qualifying tournament in February in Cameroon.

His brother Efetobor Apochi and three others still stand a chance in another scheduled qualifying tournament coming up in June. (NAN)

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