Amateur chief wants to run pro boxing

Posted at 08/01/12 9:43 PM

LONDON - Ching-Kuo Wu, the president of the International Amateur Boxing Association (AIBA), told AFP on Tuesday the professional fight game would be better off if run by his organisation.

At present, professional boxing is governed by several different global bodies, all of whom have their own title belts, meaning the days when general sports fans could name all the reigning world champions have long gone.

Wu, a 65-year-old Taiwanese, wants to bridge the gap between the amateur and professional ranks by providing amateurs with a professional career on a three year contract -- where they can win purse money -- after an Olympics and yet still be able to compete in future Games.

With a couple of top Italian boxers already signed up and a Swiss-based marketing company raising funds required to make it a viable entity, Wu is confident AIBA Pro Boxing (APB) will be up and running as planned towards the end of next year.

"I think the AIBA should govern boxing in all its forms for the simple reason of protecting the interest of the boxers," said Wu.

"Our interest is to protect the interest of the boxers. We will offer them three year contracts and purse money so they can live and also the possibility of another Olympic Games.

"If you look at the professional side of the sport, those that sign for professional promoters, how many of them succeed? Most of them fail then they get dropped and haven't got the option of returning to the amateur ranks so their boxing career is over.

"What a waste, what a pity."

Now Wu hopes he can convince traditional amateur powerhouse Cuba to come on board for the APB even though boxing officials in the Communist country are adamantly opposed to professional sport on ideological grounds.

"We are gradually working on that," he said. "We have paved the way and they haven't closed the door."

Wu, an architect by profession, said the qualities required in designing and creating a building were ones he was bringing to his boxing role.

Wu, who was elected to the elite executive board of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) for the first time last week, believes he has delivered on promises of sweeping reform made when taking up his AIBA post six years ago.

One of those will bear fruit on Sunday when women's boxing -- voted in as an Olympic sport in 2009 on the back of lobbying by Wu -- makes its Games debut, with 36 boxers taking part across three weight categories.

"I say something, I plan something and I will deliver," said Wu.

"Just as in architecture you have to have something on paper before you build the building.

"Without planning you can't implement the work," added Wu.

Wu said that his short time as a boxer had taught him a lot and he tried to bring those qualities to bear in his present role.

"Not for a very long time I was a boxer and to be one you need a lot of courage," he said.

"Courage to enter the ring because once you are through those ropes there is no turning back, no escape. You are either going to leave that ring a winner or a loser.

"It was very good training for this role. You need mental courage for it because without it you will never try anything."

Some boxing traditionalists have expressed concerns about a women's Olympic tournament but Wu said: "I am not worried because women's sport is a trend in the modern world. Who would wish to challenge it?"


© 1994-2012 Agence France-Presse

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