I have been watching the excellent coverage of women’s volleyball. This is a fast, exciting sport and is being beautifully and clearly refereed. There are no arguments or appeals – it is entirely fair. What a contrast to boxing!
Barry comes from a boxing family - his father, grandfather and uncle were all good amateur boxers – and his father gave him a pair of boxing gloves when he was nine. His first ‘bout’ was in a ring he fashioned in his back garden. More serious fights followed when he became a full time amateur (shamateur) boxer in the Army and since he retired from the ring he has maintained a key interest in the sport. By default I have also developed an interest in boxing and am always keen to hear the commentary of ex-boxers and the analysis of boxing experts at the ring-side.
The London 2012 Boxing Olympics has gained Barry’s admiration for the high standard of boxers and his utter contempt for the officials (referees, judges, International Olympics Committee (IOC) and the Amateur International Boxing Association (AIBA). The boxing press and boxing notables like Lennox Lewis are universally outraged at the ineptitude (or deliberate bias) of the officials. There have been numerous instances of referees who are either not aware of the rules of the sport or are ignoring them. The links below provide examples from the large press cover on the issue.
Compared to many other disciplines boxing is not difficult to judge yet many of the fights have been blatantly misjudged. I’m no expert but even I can see when a fighter is holding or delivering an illegal punch. The IOC is meant to oversee the quality of judging and refereeing but is mysteriously silent following dreadful decisions. A number of these travesties have resulted in appeals leading to officials being expelled from the Games. Most worrying of all has been the failure of the IOC and the AIBA to respond to a BBC whistle blower’s broadcast last September about AIBA corruption concerning payments to favour certain boxers.
Boxing is a great sport that has done much, particularly for under-privileged youth. It focuses energy and demands self-discipline. Boxing and boxers deserve much better than the treatment they have received in the London 2012 Olympics. The IOC has failed to ensure that the sport is properly regulated and must ensure dramatic changes before the next games. If it cannot do so I regret that it should be excluded from the Olympic stage. A good start would be to demand and secure the resignation of the entire senior level of the AIBA.