Amateur boxing remains the biggest anomaly in Olympic sport; and the fractious International Amateur Boxing Association (AIDA), which claims to administer the discipline, has been shrouded in controversy since 1946 when the body was founded in London, taking over the functions of the Fédération Internationale de Boxe Olympique, founded in Paris 26 years earlier.
An internal feud which came to a head at the World Championships in Hamburg over the past fortnight, threatens to rip apart the shadowy fabric of the international organisation, which has the exclusive rights by the International Olympic Committee to oversee Olympic competition boxing – with the major target the embattled Taiwanese president Wu Ching-Kuo, who has run the Lausanne-base organisation since 2006.
The changes in direction Wu has instituted since then have not been popular and his opponents claim that AIBA is bankrupt, a charge the president refutes.
At the heart of it is the singular fact that boxing does not easily slot into the definition of Olympic sport, for as the influential Boxing News so succinctly comments: “Boxing is not a game like basketball, tennis, or golf. You don’t play boxing.”
Ever since boxing first appeared at the 1904 Olympic Games in St Louis and, apart from the Stockholm Games of 1912 – boxing was banned in Sweden – there are two stopping points in the debate.
The first is bound to the vagaries of any number of scoring systems introduced and the number of controversial decisions arrived at by AIBA officials.
On August 17 last year, The New York Times reported that the AIBA had removed several referees and judges after “less than a handful of the decisions were not at the level expected” at the Rio Olympics.
It was reported that, in response to allegations of corruption, “AIBA invited people with evidence about bribing judges to step forward”.
The rules of the competition did not allow any results to be appealed, and the AIBA has stated that all the decisions will stand.
The second is tied to the decline of amateur boxing worldwide and the two-pronged decision by the AIBA to drop the word “amateur” and the farcical decision to allow professionals to compete at the Olympics.