The sport of boxing doesn’t do itself too many favours when it comes to safeguarding its reputation.
That idea was given legs this week with the utterly ludicrous idea that professional fighters would now be eligible to compete at the Olympic Games in Rio de Janiero later this year.
This week it was also announced that male boxers competing at the Games would do so without the use of protective headgear after the International Olympic Committee (IOC) gave the amateur body the stamp of approval.
Headgear has not been worn in amateur boxing since the world championships in 2013.
“In my opinion it shouldn’t be allowed,” current minimumweight world champion Hekkie Budler said yesterday when asked for his opinion on the issue surrounding professional participation.
“Amateurs train their whole lives to go to the Olympic Games while professionals train for world titles. Why should that be taken away from the amateurs now?”
Budler, who defends his WBA and IBO titles against Byron Rojas at Emperors Palace on March 19, feels that the quality of amateur boxing has improved since the abolition of headgear in men’s bouts.
He’s also wary of professionals taking on amateurs without protection if those fighters in the paid ranks are allowed to compete in Rio.
“You already see some mismatches in the amateurs and now adding professionals into that equation is just dangerous. People will get hurt,” Budler, who was robbed of a chance to compete at the 2008 edition in Beijing, said.
It’s a similar sentiment to that echoed by former Olympic medallist and heavyweight world champion Lennox Lewis this week.
“I think it is preposterous to a certain degree,” Lewis told BBC SportsWeek
“Olympic boxing is built for amateurs and is the highest achievement you can get, alongside being world amateur champion,” he said.