Following AIBA’s (International Amateur Boxing Association) announcement last year that professional boxers will be allowed to compete at the Olympic Games in Rio in 2016, they have now raised the age limit for competitors from 36 to 40 years of age.
This is believed to have been done to accommodate current World Heavyweight Champion 38 year old Wladimir Klitschko who has previously stated his interest in competing at the Olympic Games again. Klitschko won the Super Heavyweight title at the Atlanta Olympics in 1996. In 2016 he would be 40 years of age and now still eligible to compete.
Interestingly though as much as AIBA have opened the door for him to grace the Olympic stage again, the Ukrainian Boxing Federation initially stated that they would not support such a move; however there is plenty of time for them to change their mind.
Currently the new Olympic regulations prohibit professional boxers with more than 20 fights to their name from competing at the Games, but yet again a great deal can change in two years.
If this rule did change it would be a major coup for AIBA Chairman Dr C.K. Wu who has made it his mission to move away from the amateur ranks of boxing and try and unite and control the sport as one.
“I already have an Olympic Gold medal and it would be fantastic to get another 20 years later. I’d like to think that in two years time I will still have enough health and motivation to perform in the Olympics.” Klitschko is quoted as saying.
Of course these changes also open the door for the likes of Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather junior to compete in Rio, the only requirement would be that they participate in AIBAs Pro Boxing Tournament prior to the games.
In terms of television viewers the Olympic Games would welcome such possibilities, but one wonders if like tennis the Olympic gold will carry as much kudos with professional boxers who are World Champions participating. It may be good for the games, but it is not good for boxing. Fighters need to learn their craft and the Olympic gold medal was always a sign that a fighter was ready to turn professional, even though it was never a guarantee that a World Title would follow.