The World Boxing Association (WBA) is the oldest among the four sanctioning organizations that recognize professional boxing world champions and sanction world championship boxing bouts. The WBA, along with the WBO (World Boxing Organization), WBC (World Boxing Council) and IBF (International Boxing Federation) are recognized by the IBHOF (International Boxing Hall Of Fame) as major world championship groups.
Formerly known as the NBA (National Boxing Association), the WBA was founded by 13 state representatives in the United States in 1921.
The representatives had collaborated to form the NBA in order to neutralize the influence that the New York State Athletic Commission (NYSAC) exerted in the boxing community. There was often confusion about who the real champion in a particular division was because the NBA and NYSAC would crown different champions in the same division.
It wasn't until 1962 that the NBA would name itself as the WBA, in recognition of the growing popularity of boxing worldwide. This move also helped gain other nations as members.
By 1975, the headquarters of the WBA was moved to Panama because the majority of the votes were held by Latin American nations. In the 1990s and early 2000s, the headquarters was located in Venezuela before returning to Panama in 2007; and has been located there ever since.
The motto of the WBA is "Simply the pioneers". The current serving president of the body is Gilberto Mendoza Jr.
The first bout to be recognized by the WBA was the Jack Dempsey-Georges Carpentier Heavyweight Championship bout in New Jersey.
From 1982 until his death, Gilberto Mendoza of Venezuela was the president of the WBA, following which Gilberto Mendoza Jr. took over the post.
The title holders from the WBC, WBO and IBF are recognized by the WBA. A "Super Champion" or "Undisputed Champion" or "Unified Champion" in the WBA refers to a champion who holds two or more of these titles in the same weight class. This holds good even if the WBA title is not one of the titles held by the "Super Champion".
If a boxer holds the WBA's title along with multiple titles, the boxer is promoted to "Super Champion", and the WBA title - which is then is referred to as the "Regular" title - becomes vacant; boxers who are listed in the WBA ranking then contest for it. Because of this rule, the official list of WBA's champions often shows a "WBA Super World Champion" and a "WBA World Champion" for the same weight class.
There have been instances when the WBA has recognized three different boxers as one form of champion or another in the same weight class. There have been occurrences where different versions of the same title of the same weight class have been defended on the same night, in two different parts of the world, by two different WBA "World" champions.
When the title-holder has defended his title successfully five times, the WBA promotes him to a "Super" champion.