Lausanne, Switzerland, 18 August 2012 – Considered to be one of the finest Olympic boxing competitions of all time, London 2012 will hold fond memories for the boxing family and the Olympic Movement. With the International Boxing Association (AIBA) and the London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (LOCOG) working closely together, fans and pundits alike praised the entertainment, format and atmosphere at the ExCeL Arena in east London.
Just a few weeks after the conclusion of the groundbreaking World Series of Boxing (WSB), when its Team Final and Individual Championships had set the competition on fire, 50 WSB boxers participated in the Olympic Games, the very first pro boxers to compete in the greatest show on earth.
The introduction of women boxers – the last Olympic sport to include both sexes – was considered to be one of the highlights of the entire London 2012 Olympic Games, enticing spectators and media from around the world to one of the hottest venues of the past weeks. The hosts will be delighted after securing five medals including three gold, one silver and one bronze. But despite the packed venue and raucous crowds, support was not limited to the home boxers.
Perhaps the story of the competition was the victory for Ireland’s Katie Taylor. The Irish have always been fanatical about boxing but the Women’s Lightweight (60kg) champion – and Best Women Boxer of the tournament – who was trained by her father prompted an unofficial national holiday when she beat Russian Sofya Ochigava in the final. For her quarter-final against Brit Natasha Jonas, the 10,000 ExCeL seats shook the loudest venue of the Games, reaching 113 decibels, louder than a plane taking off which reaches 100 decibels.
Great Britain also had something to cheer in the Women’s competition with Nicola Adams winning the very first gold against China’s three-time AIBA world champion Ren Cancan in the Flyweight category (51kg). Despite being a flat-footed asthmatic who previously appeared on television soap operas to support herself while training, Adams is already looking forward to the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.
She may well be joined there by Anthony Joshua, who claimed the Super Heavyweight (91+kg) title with a dramatic win over Roberto Cammarelle of Italy in the final bout of the competition. Joshua became a pin-up for the home team, having overcome adversity through boxing and joining Men’s Bantamweight (56kg) Luke Campbell in winning gold.
China’s defending world and Olympic champion Zou Shiming won the men’s Light Flyweight (49kg) gold with a 13:10 victory over Thailand’s Kaeo Pongprayoon, becoming the first boxer to defend the Light Flyweight title and is the first Chinese to win two boxing gold medals.
He is also the first man to win three medals at Light Flyweight having taken bronze in Athens in 2004 and is the oldest Olympic champion at that weight. Ukrainian Lightweight (60kg) Vasyl Lomachenko proved once again why he is one of the top Olympic boxers with a second successive gold, following up the title he won in Beijing four years ago.
Whereas before the best Olympic boxers used the Games as a platform to join the pro ranks, AIBA will launch the AIBA Professional Boxing (APB) in autumn 2013, its own fully professional competition that will still allow participants to compete in the Olympic Games with Lomachenko’s teammates, AIBA World Champions Oleksandr Usyk and Taras Shelestyuk, as well as Italian superstars Domenico Valentino and Clemente Russo announced as participants during the Games. APB will revolutionize the world of boxing and establish a blueprint for its development.
Boxers will be supported and guaranteed fights while retaining eligibility for the Olympic Games while the World Series of Boxing also grows with new franchises set to enter the third season within a couple of months, providing further opportunities for Olympic boxers.
AIBA President, Dr Ching-Kuo Wu stated: “The Olympic boxing competitions inspired the world and we now look forward to carrying on the momentum from London 2012 over the course of the next four years. Certainly the introduction of women’s boxing was one of the Games’ highlights and there were so many wonderful stories that captured the imagination. We will look into further developing the sport by reviewing the scoring system and other elements such as headguard to ensure we continue to raise the standards of the sport.” —- AIBA