World Boxing Council (WBC) president Mauricio Sulaiman has hit out at the International Boxing Association’s (Aiba) plan to allow elite professional boxers to compete at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro and stated that he is “deeply concerned” by the proposal.
Sulaiman (pictured) said that Aiba “does not have a clue of what boxing means and represents.” The head of professional boxing’s most prominent sanctioning body also predicted “dangerous mismatches between experienced professional fighters and amateur boxers” if the pros take up Aiba’s invitation.
Aiba president Ching-Kuo Wu this week said that the governing body is seeking to push through plans that would allow elite professional boxers to compete at Rio 2016. Since 2013, Olympics eligibility has been extended to professional boxers who have fought fewer than 15 paid bouts and were willing to sign a short-term contract with Aiba Pro Boxing (APB).
Responding to the development, Sulaiman said: “The World Boxing Council is deeply concerned about the shameful lowest stage that Aiba has reached in the entire history of Olympic boxing. There is a great ignorance and lack of information of what has happened in amateur boxing in recent years, which has positioned amateur and Olympic boxing and its world structure at its worst level.”
He continued: “Boxing cannot be considered without keeping separate amateur and professional boxing, for the most basic principle of safety, by avoiding such dangerous mismatches between experienced professional fighters and amateur boxers. This is something Aiba is not able to understand, because it seems their leadership does not have a clue of what boxing really means and represents.
“Aiba’s priority appears to be the commercial and business aspects of the sport. Boxers are obligated to sign commercial contracts with Aiba and its affiliates, which positions Aiba in an undeniable and clear conflict of interest.”
The WBC is one of boxing’s four major global sanctioning bodies and Sulaiman said that it would proceed with its own platform for the amateur side of the sport.
He added: “In reaction to these circumstances, the World Boxing Council today announces the second stage of the WBC Amateur program. We cannot remain passive in the face of this injustice and the terrible treatment that the sport is receiving from Aiba and from many of the national federations affiliated to it.”