LONDON: Olympic boxing’s governing body (AIBA) is to consider extending its new professional league to include women after they made a stunning debut at the London Games, president Wu Ching-Kuo said on Tuesday.
AIBA (The International Boxing Association) wants to stop losing fighters to the traditional professional ranks every four years and plans to offer fighters a living and another shot at Olympic gold via its own pro league.
AIBA Professional Boxing (APB) is the governing body’s vehicle for stopping the exodus from men’s amateur boxing and Wu said he would examine whether to do the same for women as soon as the Games were over.
“Next year we are going to have the APB, why not for women? The level is so high, the popularity so high, so why not?” Wu told Reuters in an interview.
“With the success of the London Games for women, we will immediately evaluate this.”
Taiwan’s Wu, who was at the forefront of the drive to remove boxing’s status as the last all-male sport at the Summer Olympics, joked on Tuesday that he had little choice given he was outnumbered at home by a wife and two daughters.
He described as fantastic the atmosphere during Monday’s headline fight between Ireland’s Katie Taylor and Natasha Jonas of Britain – a noise measured as the loudest of the Games so far.
Wu said he would keep the footage to show other women boxers how good they could be.
Last week he suggested he would be pressing the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to increase the 36-strong quota of female competitors for the 2016 Games in Rio de Janeiro.
Wu explained on Tuesday he would not strip the men of any berths to let in more women.
“With the performance here, with the reaction from the media, from the Olympic family, the Olympic Games department in the IOC, all of this gives a very strong reason to ask for more and hopefully the IOC will seriously consider,” he said.
Judges sent home
The successful inclusion of women in the ring diverted attention away from a first week filled with judging controversies at the boxing arena that saw two officials sent home and a third suspended.
The most high-profile expulsion was that of Turkmen referee Ishanguly Meretnyyazov who failed to stop the bout when Magomed Abdulhamidov was knocked down six times in the final round.
Wu said the referee received the same intensive training as anyone else and he had performed quite well ahead of the Games.
He added that, like previous tournaments, a number of judges had also been suspended.
“We evaluate the judges every day, all the scoring sheets. Those who don’t meet what we expect, or we found irregularities, we immediately suspend. Tomorrow no assignment,” Wu explained.
“I think every day after the evaluation, the lowest five are suspended, not assigned.”
While AIBA is set to review a scoring system that has been greeted by appeals from beaten fighters at a rate not seen before at the Games, Wu said one simple fact never changes when it comes to complaints.
“When they lose they always complain,” he said.