AIBA denies bid to take over the sport

The International Boxing Association (AIBA) has denied accusations that it is trying to take over the sport, following its decision to let professional boxers fight at the Rio Olympics

AIBA president Wu Ching-Kuo said the organisation just wants to open the door for athletes who dream of going to the Olympics.   -  Getty Images

The International Boxing Association (AIBA) has denied accusations that it is trying to take over the sport, following its decision to let professional boxers fight at the Rio Olympics.

At an AIBA congress in Lausanne in Switzerland last month, 95 percent of delegates voted to allow professional boxers for the first time ever to enter the competition.

The decision was met with widespread derision in the boxing world, with many making their views clear even before the change was made.

AIBA president Wu Ching-Kuo said the organisation had no plans to take over the sport and allowing professionals to compete in Olympic boxing was a great step forward for it.

"We never said we want to take over boxing. We just want to open the door because no one can stop athletes from going to the Olympics, that is a fundamental concept," Wu said.

"If the athlete says 'My dream is to go to the Olympics', then we just want to open the door."

In May legendary boxing promoter Bob Arum said that the plan to introduce professional boxers was "total madness" and would result in "serious injuries".

Arum believed the decision was commercially orientated, with AIBA seeing more lucrative opportunities, and part of a wider power grab by the association.

But Wu rejected the charges saying that "only the best AIBA boxers" would be facing professional fighters.

Speaking about the new relationship with Alibaba, Wu predicted a bright future for boxing in China, which he described as a "noble sport" that could "prepare youth for the challenges which they face in society".

Chinese President Xi Jinping has made the development of the country's ailing football team a national priority, but Wu did not see this as a barrier to the development of boxing.

"President Xi Jinping loves boxing -- wait and see," he said.