Dec 2, 2011, 1:56 PM
Professional boxers will be allowed to compete at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games after a historic motion was passed at an International Boxing Association (AIBA) Extraordinary Congress on Wednesday 1 June 2016.
Eighty-four of the 88 delegates present voted in support of the motion.
The historical decision could pave the way for The Gambia’s two professional boxers, Badou Jack alias RIPPER and Patrick John Mendy to compete under the Gambian flag at the 2016 Olympic Games to be held in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil.
Boxing is the last of all the summer or winter sports to make such a decision, meaning there is no longer any ban on professional athletes competing at an Olympic Games.
Badou Jack, born 31 October 1983, is a Gambian Swedish professional boxer. Born to a Gambian father and a Swedish mother, he has represented The Gambia at the 2008 Olympics. He is the current WBC super-middleweight champion.
At the 2nd AIBA African 2008 Olympic Qualifying Tournament he breezed through the competition to win; the final was a shootout win over DR Congo’s Herry Saliku Biembe.
Jack qualified for the 2008 Olympics for The Gambia in the middleweight division, and was the nation’s flag bearer at the Opening Ceremonies. He lost in the first round to India’s Vijender Singh.
Patrick Mendy, born September 26, 1990, is a Gambian professional boxer who was born in The Gambia and currently lives in Maidenhead. He made his debut as a professional boxer on 6 March 2009.
The move, cited as a key priority by AIBA President CK Wu, has not been universally popular, with possible safety risks due to mismatches between professional and less experienced amateur ones concerned.
It remains to be seen how many fighters from the professional ranks will be able to compete at Rio 2016 given the tight deadline until the Games opens on August 5.
No boxers are expected to be given a wildcard, with all having to fulfill specific qualification criteria.
A qualification tournament is now due to take place from July 3 to 8 in Vargas, Venezuela.
Twenty-six quota places will be available and National Federations will have final decisions on eligibility.
With this new development, The Gambia Boxing Association will solely bear the responsibility of selecting the Gambian boxers while the Gambia National Olympic Committee (GNOC) could provide the support to make sure the athletes participate in the game.