Professional boxers to compete at Rio: AIBA

Wed Jun 1, 2016 7:04am EDT
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By Karolos Grohmann

LAUSANNE, Switzerland (Reuters) - Professional boxers will compete at the Rio de Janeiro Olympics after the international boxing association AIBA approved a constitutional change on Wednesday, its president said.

AIBA boss Ching-Kuo Wu said the change of the AIBA constitution was approved with 95 percent in favor -- 84 of 88 voting members -- paving the way for professionals to fight for medals for the first time at the Olympics starting on Aug. 5.

"We approved it and now they can compete," he told Reuters.

Some 26 Olympic spots will be up for grabs when fighters compete at a qualifying tournament in Venezuela next month, with a total of 286 boxers -- 236 men and 50 women set to compete in Rio's boxing events.

AIBA spokesman Nicolas Jomard said there would be no wild cards, with the age limit at 40 for the athletes.

The move has drawn considerable criticism as many argue it would be unfair to amateur boxers who have trained for the Games for years and may now have to make way for the professionals.

Former world heavyweight champion Mike Tyson, who as an amateur won gold at the 1981 and 1982 Junior Olympic Games, has branded the move "ridiculous".

"It's ridiculous, it's foolish, and some of the pro fighters are going to get beat by the amateurs. It's just going to happen, I really believe that," the 49-year-old told Reuters last week.   Continued...

AIBA President Wu Ching-Kuo attends a news conference in Baku September 24, 2011. REUTERS/Osman Karimov