Amateur Professionalism in Olympic Boxing

An unfair fight?

The rumblings of professional boxers entering the Olympic boxing arena began shortly before the summer Olympics of Rio De Janeiro in 2016 and Rio did in fact play host to 3 professionals in the tournament. Fast forward to 2019 and the subject is still as raw as ever.

The WBC as well as other leading governing bodies hold firm on their view that the professionals should most definitely not compete against amateurs in the games. Recently several superstars of boxing took to social media to express their distaste for the concept, amongst them former Olympic medal winners Lennox Lewis and Amir Khan.

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Lewis tweeted:

“Professional boxers should NOT be fighting in the Olympics against amateur fighters. Someone could get seriously hurt. You don’t PLAY boxing like other many other Olympic sports. This is a very bad idea. #MyTwoCents”

Perhaps unsurprisingly, this was met with opposition from fellow heavyweight legend Wladimir Klitschko who said that under amateur rules it would in fact be the professional that was at the disadvantage. Lewis kicked back and what resulted was a media surge on the Twitter ‘beef’ between legends.

Olympic boxing, it’s a different sport

As a lifelong fight fan, I tend to fall on the side of my countryman Lennox Lewis. From a purely logical perspective it’s clear that the sports are very different and, in theory, a professional who is used to longer contests with different rules could find it difficult to adapt to multiple 3 round fights over a short period.

However, what cannot be ignored is the level of experience that a top level professional has in terms of training, sparring and ring IQ. At this point let me say that I am in particular referring to world and elite level pro’s, all of which would be eligible to compete.

Take the example of Floyd Mayweather, who won a bronze medal (not gold) at the Olympics in Atlanta 1996 before plying his trade to become the pound for pound number 1 fighter in the world for a number of years.

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Would it really be fair for the 2007 peak Floyd Mayweather, with a wealth of boxing knowledge, to take on any amateur boxer in a no-headguard, 10oz glove contest?

Amateur boxers wouldn’t stand a chance

Surely there isn’t an amateur boxer in the world that would have the tools to stand a chance?

And look at heavy punching, come-forward examples such as Gennady ‘GGG’ Golovkin.

Two or three years ago, it was almost impossible to beat GGG.

With a punch like a mule and a chin of granite, he had made light work of every contender and fellow champion available; arguably defeating Canelo Alvarez twice since then.

What amateur boxer with limited experience and possibly limited training set up (not all are as fortunate as Team GB or USA) would want to stare down the barrel of a fight with GGG or similar?

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The fact is that the professional sport of boxing has always been a progression opportunity for those amateurs wishing to further their careers and make a living.

World champions serve as an example of something to emulate for aspiring young amateurs. The journey is long, even for a gifted specimen like Vasyl Lomachenko.

So, in my opinion, professionals thinking of returning to compete with amateurs in the Olympic games would be a regression, not progression in their careers.

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