Can professional boxers compete in the Olympics?
Boxing has been contested in all Olympic Games since it was first introduced in 1904. But can professional boxers compete in the sporting macro event?
The boxing competition, one of the most ‘traditional’ in the Olympics, is organized as a set of tournaments, one for each weight class. The number of weight classes has changed over the years (currently eight for men and five for women).
The USA has been the most successful country so far in the medal table, with a total of 114 medals (50 gold, 24 silver and 40 bronze), followed by Cuba, with 73 medals, and Great Britain in third position (56 medals).
From the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, male athletes no longer have to wear protective headgear in competition, due to a ruling by the International Boxing Association (AIBA) and the International Olympic Committee (IOC).
Will we see pro boxers in the Tokyo Olympic Games?
The protective headgear rule was not the only one to be introduced during the 2016 Rio Summer Games. Five years ago, professional boxers were allowed to compete in the Olympics.
The inclusion of professional boxers was decided upon by the national federations after 84 of the 88 delegates presented at an extraordinary congress at Lausanne in Switzerland in 2016.
Allowing pros to compete in the Olympics isn’t a new idea. The 1992 American Dream Team was the first to use NBA players and ended up winning the gold and embarrassing every team they played against.
Why pro boxers wouldn’t compete at the Olympics
Most high-level boxers would choose not to participate in the Olympic Games for a number of reasons.
Boxing in the Olympics has different rules compared to professional boxing in the US, as the number of rounds, how the rounds are scored and the level of competition. For all these reasons, pro boxers don’t feel comfortable enough taking part in the Olympic competition.
Another factor to take into account is the risk of getting injured, as their fitness is extremely important for themselves and their teams. Taking into account that even if boxing is seen as more of an amateur tournament in the Olympics, if they want to seek gold and deliver a good performance they will need to be in top shape and healthy.
Top professional boxers can earn millions in a fight, amounts they cannot even dream of in the Olympic tournament, not to mention the risk of getting injured and the future revenue they would be losing in their professional careers.