It’s hard to fathom that anyone could have come up with such a ludicrous, terrible, and potentially disastrous concept, let alone actually believe it was a good one.
Can Professional Boxers Compete in The Olympics
Last week, the Associated Press (via ABC News) reported that Ching-Kuo Wu, president of the International Boxing Association (AIBA), has pushed for a proposal that would allow professional boxers to compete in the Summer Olympics, potentially beginning with the 2016 Games in Rio de Janeiro this August.
When asked by the Press Association, Wu said, “We want the best boxers to come to the Olympic Games” (per the AP). He said that the switch could be implemented in time for professionals to lace up this year, though others appear to think 2020 is more plausible.
I Think it’s Important That We Not Sugarcoat This.
If Wu truly believes that permitting professional athletes to compete against amateur kids outweighs the possible benefits, he needs to get his brain checked. It’s been done before, but the situations are so dissimilar that it’s scarcely instructive.
The Idea of Professional Athletes Participating in The Olympics is Not Novel.
The 1992 American Dream Team (the first to feature NBA players) won gold and humiliated every other team it faced at the Barcelona Olympics.
Nor are the periodic discussions about how a top college basketball or football team might be able to compete with or beat a terrible professional team.
Last year, when John Calipari’s Kentucky Wildcats (loaded with NBA talent and a consensus No. 1 team for most of the season) faced the incompetent Philadelphia 76ers, this story surfaced frequently.
Even Calipari was able to see the huge gulf in skill and maturity levels between professionals and amateurs and stomp on the idea.
And That’s Just Basketball.
Of course, there will be some rough play, but remember that the point of the game is to score more goals than your opponent(s). Unlike in boxing and similar combat sports, it is not the exclusive purpose.
Gennady Golovkin has won his last 21 professional fights by knockout and has decided to try out for the Kazakh Olympic team in order to boost his worldwide profile.
The same can be said about Sergey Kovalev, a cold-blooded, calculated stalker who, if not the actual light heavyweight title, at least owns the title that matters. The Russian national team is the one he’ll be competing for.
Unsurprisingly, they would be a major draw in the Olympics and prohibitive favourites to win a slew of hardware.
The First Ones They Face?
Some 18-year-old kid from the centre of the United States or Southeast Asia who has fought a couple of times in the amateur ranks and has a much better chance of walking out of the ring wounded than with his hand raised.
As if things couldn’t get any worse, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) approved a regulation modification that will allow male fighters to compete this summer in Rio without protective headgear.
Given these factors, it’s possible that we could witness seasoned, mature, professional fighters facing off against young, inexperienced rivals without the benefit of even fundamental precautions as early as 2020 instead of this summer.
The president of the World Boxing Council (WBC), Mauricio Sulaiman, has been outspoken in his criticism of the two steps that could lead to professionals fighting amateurs sans headgear.