Forget Pacquiao v Mayweather a bout of equally large proportions is on the verge of taking place. A battle between the professional boxing ranks and the amateur ranks has been simmering for two years, but they look to be coming to a head.
In the last week the WBC launched what it called “a quest to unmask the imminent threats which AIBA´s actions pose to the detriment of boxing, and that task is ongoing.”
Former President of the WBC Jose Sulaiman, tried to find amicable solution prior to his passing away. He publicly challenged the IOC, and made the WBC’s position clear to national federations and the boxing community as a whole. HIs son who took over as President Mauricio Sulaiman has continued the struggle and has vowed to keep fight until as the WBC state “we free amateur boxing from the monopolistic actions, restriction of trade and abuse of power that AIBA actively seeks.”
The European Boxing Union (EBU) has joined the fight, and along with the WBC, WBA, IBF and WBO are participating in workshops with the National Sports Ministry of Spain. Those sessions will result in the establishment of a National governing entity to oversee professional boxing. This was to counter what they call “subterfuge and manipulation of the governing law in Spain,” whereby the Spanish Boxing Federation (FEB) were alleged to be trying to implement to place boxing there at the mercy and under the sole control of AIBA. The FEB’s activities are supposed to be limited solely to amateur boxing, which is controlled by AIBA.
In recent times AIBA has eliminated the word “Amateur” from their name, so amateur boxing, as we all knew it, doesn’t exist. They now appear to be looking to become the quasi head of world boxing “amateur” and professional.
According to the WBC “AIBA has changed its role in the sport of boxing. While receiving the sole and exclusive authority from the IOC to handle Olympic boxing competitions, AIBA has abused that authority and has put a plan in place to sign exclusivity contracts with fighters. Those contracts are in fact commercial instruments geared to stage professional competitions while attempting to maintain the contractually bound boxers’ eligibility to participate in the Olympic Games. Only those boxers who participate in a commercial contract with AIBA are eligible to compete in the Olympic Games!”
Countries who do not comply have been threatened with expulsion from World Championships and also the Olympic Games.
The four united professional boxing bodies have stated that they believe AIBA should return to its original modus operandi which is to oversee the good practices of “amateur” boxing in the world. They believe AIBA should limit its activities to: “(1) work with National amateur entities; (2) organizing Olympic competition; and (3) dedicating its efforts to make such competitions as honorable as they were in the past.”
Ask any successful World Champion where he learned his craft and he will tell you it was in the amateur ranks. Boxing is a skill that takes time to learn. As much as it is about punching your opponent it is equally about not being hit. The amateur ranks are where you learn this craft. The state of the Professional game in recent years is a direct result of young boxers being pushed into the professional ranks before they are ready. Sure the Professional bodies are protecting their interests as they do not want AIBA moving in on their turf, but at the same time they need a strong amateur side of the sport in order to ensure when fighters turn professional they have the tools to be a box office drawcard.
The sport needs a strong amateur body and it needs that body to focus on that key component and not trying to diversify.