Rio Olympics 2016: Can India make most of ‘pro boxers entry rule’ in Olympics?
International boxing is undergoing a ‘makeover’ of some kind as a new aspect of boxing will unfold at the 2016 Rio Olympics. For many years, boxing lovers have witnessed top amateur boxers displaying their wares on the Olympic stage before going on to turn pro. But a ‘significant’ rule change by the International Boxing Federation (AIBA) to allow all professional boxers take part in the 2016 Rio Olympics has generated much buzz.
The fact that this move of the AIBA’s top-brass was received warmly can be gauged from the fact that 84 of the 88 members of the International Boxing Association (AIBA) voted to allow all professional fighters at the Rio games.
India have seen many international boxers, who had served the country with distinction before going to turn pro. The names of Raj Kumar Sangwan, Dharmendra Singh Yadav, Gurcharan Singh and Vijender Singh readily come to mind. Of course, it’s a decision that has been hailed by many although the timing of the announcement needs to be questioned.
Among the current crop of Indian pro boxers, who can stand to benefit from this new rule is 2008 Olympic bronze medallist Vijender Singh. No one seems to be sure about it – the AIBA is slated to hold an Olympic Qualification Tournament for the pro boxers at Vargas, Venezuela from July 3-8 – an event where professional boxers will have to fight to secure their Olympic berth.
The general feeling in Indian boxing circles is that the new rule is welcome but has been taken in haste. “To allow pro boxers to take part in Olympics just two months before the Games looks dicey. No, doubt this move is a good one but should have been put to use for the 2020 Olympics,” says a former Indian coach.
The big question that is being asked whether Vijender Singh would be able to wriggle out of his professional commitments and fight for India at Rio. If sources close to the boxers are to be believed the Indian is not really keen as he does not have much time to prepare.
The Venezuela qualifiers will be held in the first week of July and Vijender has a pro bout coming up on July 16. Though the dates of the Venezuela qualifiers are not exactly clashing with Vijender’s July 16 bout, the Bhiwani boxer is unlikely to rock his professional boat and jump into the Olympic fray with just one month of preparations.
One can argue that Vijender is well trained already, given his consistent wins on the pro circuit, it remains to be seen how this rule change can help India to shore up their boxing representation at Rio.