In March the world governing body of amateur boxing,AIBA,had asked all its federations to drop the word Amateur from their respective names.
This was another step in its push towards going the professional way,one that started with the introduction of the World Series of Boxing (WSB) and AIBA Professional Boxing (APB).
However,it has emerged that member associations are not exactly on the same page as AIBA. This fact was illustrated when the boxing association of England was provisionally suspended by AIBA earlier this week for not allowing pugilists on the rolls of the World Series of Boxing (WSB),a semi-professional event,to compete in the nationals in order to maintain its amateur sanctity.
What has left boxers confused is that amateurs who sign up with the WSB and the APB have a clause inserted in their contracts that disallow them from participating in the Asian Games and the Commonwealth Games but at the same time 70 per cent of quota places for the 2016 Rio Games come through these semi-professional and professional tournaments run by the AIBA.
Beijing Olympics bronze medallist Vijender Singh did not sign up for the WSB in 2010 because of a similar clause. Recently,five more Indians,including youngsters Suronjoy Singh,Devendro Singh and Jeetinder Kumar gave the APB a cold shoulder as they didn’t want to risk being ignored for the continental or the Commonwealth Games.
In its attempt to fast track amateurs into turning professionals,AIBA must not forget that a majority of their members,including England and India,have a young pool of amateur boxers who compete in a well-structured circuit that has been the foundation of their prowess in the sport.
AIBA is forgetting that greats who have successfully turned professional like Lenox Lewis,Amir Khan and James DeGale did so only after winning Olympic medals by coming up the ranks through the amateur circuit.
(Nitin is a principal correspondent based in Chandigarh)