Professional Boxers Allowed to Compete in Rio Olympics

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In a historic decision, the International Boxing Association (AIBA) lifted a ban today that will now allow professional boxers from across the world to compete in the Rio Olympics.

Delegates from AIBA convened at an “extraordinary Congress” today in Lausanne, Switzerland to remove Article 13(J) from the AIBA statutes. The article previously barred any non-AIBA members from competing in AIBA competitions, including the Olympics. According to a release, 95 percent of the attending delegates ratified the measure.

“This move will ensure the empowerment of National Federations and enhance all future competitions including the Olympic Games,” said AIBA President Dr Ching-Kuo Wu in a statement. “Our mission is to continue to make brave decisions in the best interest of our boxers and for the good for the sport,”

Now, National Boxing Federations must register any non-AIBA members in the World Boxing Council (WBC) and AIBA Pro Boxing Council (ABP)-sponsored Olympic Qualification Tournament in Vargas, Venezuela between July 3-8. According to AIBA, there are 26 quota places available for competition in the Rio games.

However, not everyone is thrilled with the decision. When AIBA first proposed the change this February, the WBC released a statement disregarding the change as “the shameful lowest stage … in the history of Olympic boxing.” In the statement, the WBC notes that the differing rules between amateur boxing (which the Olympics typically host) to professional boxing could result in “dangerous mismatches.”

Perhaps the WBC and AIBA will duke it out over who knows boxing best?