As the Olympics looms near many boxing enthusiasts are still flabbergasted by the latest rule. June saw the revelation that Olympic boxing will now enable professionals to compete against amateurs.
It’s a decision that’s been met with huge dismay in the boxing circle, could Rio 2016 escape the ludicrous ruling?
Techincally, no. The rules have been enforced with immediate effect meaning that professionals are eligible to take part in this year’s Olympics. Despite this, many of the qualifications for the podium squad have taken place and amateurs have already secured their position in Brazil, this hasn’t stopped big names being rumoured for a place in the GB squad though. But it seems that the next tournament won’t be polluted with the newfound aspirations of reminiscing pro’s, well, not entirely. Thailand and Cameron have revealed that ageing pro’s will be taking to their teams, both with respected professional records too. Fortunately one of their records doesn’t suggest much ‘banging’ power, which was much of Johnny Nelson’s concerns with the newly implemented rules. Amnat Ruenroeng from Thailand has a record of 17-1 (5 KO’s) but Hassan N’Dam 'CV' displays 33-2 (19 KO’s), although knockouts occur in the amateur sport it isn’t something that has as much of an emphasis. The two codes differ in many ways and one of those reasons is because amateur boxers usually aim to skilfully outpoint their opponent at a ferocious pace.
Issues and Contrasts With Amateur And Professional
For those that aren’t familiar with boxing or simply see it as fighting, you may be wondering what the difference is? A huge misconception is that amateur solely suggests a change of level, although this has some truth to it, it’s a little more complex than that. Olympic level is the pinnacle of amateur boxing (or at least it has been up to now), it’s a feat for any participating boxer and is usually part of the most successful boxers’ journey. Many of the gold medallists who make the transition to professional boxing are touted to triumph. There are many amateur boxers whom could ‘school’ professionals with their technique-based background, getting to the Olympic stage take numerous assessments, fights and travelling. Whereas turning professional can sometimes mean finding a manager, promotion team and being able to sell tickets. It’s not just that simple but being a ‘run-of-the-mill pro’ is something that’s more achievable for the average man than building a successful amateur career. That sums up how the two forms of the sport differ and how being an amateur isn’t always what it’s conveyed to be by those outside boxing.
What’s the difference between the paid ranks and the amateur code?
Amateurs are used to fighting over three rounds opposed to boxers who often fight six rounds and more. A professional world championship is contested over 12 rounds, this changes the whole aim for each fighter. But this could surely work in the amateur boxer’s favour when facing an adapted paid pugilist.
Gloves will be bigger in the Olympics with those in the 64-kilogram weight fighting in 10oz gloves opposed to professionals who usually wear 12oz and heavier weights will be in 12oz in contrast to the professionals who wear 10oz.
With the different conditions comes the different tactics, amateurs are used to setting a vigorous pace early as they set to make an early impression on the judges. Professionals usually pace themselves and look to set-up bigger punches. So new match-ups would most certainly be intriguing but surely if world class pro’s took to the Olympics, it would be a complete mismatch? Many people have envisioned how amateurs would match up when faced with the likes of Gennady Golovkin, renowned for being the biggest puncher in boxing today. There have also been rumours of Chris Eubank Jr and Amir Khan who have wanted to join the Great Britain set-up for Rio 2016. It may just be rumours and if it’s true, it came to no avail as the British team already have their skilful amateurs ready for this year’s prestigious competition. But it has been a concern for many and it’s expected that if the most capable paid athletes become keen to compete there could be trouble for the amateurs.
All of the aforementioned contrasts between the two codes have been slowly changing. The gap has been closed and since the introduction of World Series Boxing (WSB) in 2010 there has been many changes that bring both sports closer together. The World Series of Boxing enabled amateurs to compete against one another in longer rounds with no head guards and no vests. Amateur Amateur International Boxing Association (AIBA) then changed how they score rounds and they are now judged by a 10-point system like the professionals. Now the news of pros in the Olympic boxing could change the sport for good, it could even affect the ‘grassroots’ and interfere with those coming up. With the exponential growth of the sport and especially the amateur scene it’d be a shame if these new rules of incorporating paid competitors diminish the quality of Olympic boxing or amateur boxing as a whole.
Compete In Boxing
Don’t be deterred by the latest news, it seems as though many of the Olympic bouts this year will contested between amateur fighters. Hopefully the rise continues in the sport, both pro and amateur. For anyone looking for an avenue to compete there are many ways to get involved with amateurs in your area.
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By Daniel Treasure, 8th August 2016