Boxers to wear national colours from January

Taking a cue from wrestling, AIBA decided to make the change in amateur boxing; women, in the long run, may fight without headgear.

AIBA technical and rules commission chairman Pat Fiacco said vests and trunks can be of national colours; gloves will stay blue or red.   -  AIBA

Facing stiff competition from other combat sports, amateur boxing is in for some drastic changes, such as allowing boxers to wear their national colours and removal of headgear for women, in the run-up to the 2020 Olympics.

The AIBA executive committee has approved of the recommendation of its technical and rules commission.

“Vests and trunks can be of national colours. The gloves will stay blue or red depending in the corner you are in. By wearing national colours, they can attract a lot more attention. People watching (bouts) on television can identify which countries the boxers are from. It instills a lot of pride,” AIBA technical and rules commission chairman Pat Fiacco told Sportstar.

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“It is a great opportunity for the sponsors of those national teams to get more involved.”

Even as boxing is yet to be confirmed in the Tokyo Olympics, Fiacco said the sport needed to change with times. “We cannot stay stagnant. We always have to look out what are the trends, what sells and what's popular. We have over 200 countries that are affiliated to the AIBA and it's important that they get opportunities. I think this is far more appealing for the spectators.

“We are competing with many other combat sports. In general, if we want to be relevant we need to stay with the times.”

Fiacco agreed that AIBA took a cue from wrestling to effect the change. “It's important we look at best practices and do our best.”

The change of colours will come into effect from January next year, but AIBA will adopt a flexible approach for the countries which have already ordered red and blue uniform.

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Fiacco said since the removal of headgear in men's competition reduced “concussions tremendously,” it might be introduced in women's events as well. “We will soon be conducting a study on whether the removal of headgear will make a difference. The medical experts will make that decision as we look over the next couple of years to conduct those studies.”

Asked whether one could see women fighting without headgear in the next Olympics, Fiacco said, “Absolutely. That's the rule. The recommendation to make that change has not taken place. The rules for the Olympic Games are in place.”

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According to Fiacco, the removal of headgear not only helps in identifying boxers but also makes a bout more attractive as the boxers become more mobile instead of being rooted to one place thinking that taking punches ‘is not causing any damage’ due to headgear.