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Which boxers will get the Tripartite Commission places for Rio? Will India's Mary Kom be included?
by Michael O'Neill
June 25, 2016

(JUNE 25)  The International Boxing Association (AIBA) has confirmed to WBAN that an announcement will be made Monday as to which countries have been allocated the remaining women’s slots in Rio 2016. 

As we have said here before, and repeat again, it is inconceivable that the AIBA would deny a final opportunity to India’s Mary Kom to participate in what would be her final major International tournament and more so as she has ‘put her body on the line’ in promoting the women’s sport for so many years. Surely if anyone deserved a ‘wildcard’ or a place via the Tripartite Invitational program, Mary Kom does?

Photo: Courtesy

Mary will go down in the annals of women’s boxing as one of the ‘all time’ greats and has long been championed by AIBA President Dr Ching-Kuo Wu as one of those who with Great Britain’s Nicola Adams and Ireland’s Katie Taylor have done more than most to ensure the worldwide acceptance of women in the ring at a time when many of the male dominated National Federations strongly opposed it, indeed many still do.

Of course there have been many other women and quite a few men who have supported the women’s sport, in many countries, some of them have been or still are long serving members of the AIBA women’s commissions – or coaches - who have fought long and hard for the cause.

Yet, WBAN learns from our worldwide network of sources that the AIBA’s predominantly male dominated Executive are indeed set to deny Mary Kom that final chance in Rio. One cannot believe that the AIBA and their Olympic ‘masters’ the International Olympic Committee (who oversee the allocation of the final three slots) would be willing partners in such a decision. If so the I.O.C Executive (which also includes President Wu) should be duly ashamed.

Perhaps the AIBA will tell us who exactly are the men or women who make and endorse the decisions for the 51kg,60kg and 75kg slots in Rio? Yes of course we are full aware that any nominations for these slots go via the International Olympic Committee and yes we are also fully aware of the laid down guidelines though we do not believe they are truly transparent and not generally understood by many in their own Federations let alone by boxers, coaches or their families?

That said we make a final plea to the powers that be on Mary Kom’s behalf. We would stress that neither the Manipuri boxer or anyone connected with Indian boxing has in any way influenced us in making this plea. We do so for one of two reasons only – one she deserves the slot – and two the AIBA should show its loyalty to one of the sport’s greatest servants who has always been loyal to them. What price loyalty?

She would be the obvious choice at 51kg because she is a bronze medallist from London 2012 , a 5-time world champion, a national hero in her native land, a people’s champion, a good spokesperson, and remains very competitive this year. She has sacrificed seeing her young sons for months on end over the years all in the cause of the AIBA and her country.

Let us not forget that this shocking situation is because AIBA only allows 12 women per Olympic category. Twelve is bad because it isn’t a full bracket — some boxers get a bye, and then only have to win one match to get to medal rounds. How can that be justified?

For the future of the sport, twelve is also bad because we are leaving out – and thus losing - a lot of talent. Another reason that twelve is unfair and is bad is that some of the men’s weights have an excess of men (a lot of men won’t really be competitive), and those athlete quotas could go to women! These indeed are men mainly albeit not exclusively based in countries where the women’s sport has not progressed very much if at all due to the intransigence of local officials and their influence.

Nonetheless if indeed the AIBA and the IOC do NOT include Mary Kom who should these three slots go to? Rumours have been rife in the media and online for weeks now – another indictment of the AIBA’s lack of transparency.

At all times they should be ‘upfront’ and long before now should have provided a list of who is eligible and on the ‘short list.

The Olympic Games is the SHOWCASE for boxing and that means always having the top boxers there. ALL Confederations should have held their qualifying tournaments simultaneously – this has not been the case and thus boxers from some continents have qualified weeks before those from say Europe. How Can that be fair especially when the European tournament was postponed whilst the AIBA considered further options having initially planned for Istanbul then moved it to Samsun (security concerns) but with little or no time to fully recover before the final qualifier in Kazakhstan.

From sources in Panama we believe that at 75kg Athena Bylon has been allocated a slot in Rio at 75kg. We’d fully support that as she has been in great form in recent years and does deserve this chance to upset such as Claressa Shields, Nouchka Fontijn, Savannah Marshall and Ariane Fortin. What about the 51kg and 60kg slots then?

Our view would be that the following should be seriously considered and included on any ‘short list’. They have all competed in the recent AIBA World Championships.

51kg — Mary Kom, (India), Nadia Barrage Villarroel (Bolivia), Anusha Koddithuwakku (Sri Lanka) and Reem Al-Mriheel (Jordan)

60kg — Valerian Spicer (Dominica ), Saraswati Rana (Nepal), Vidusika Mohotti (Sri Lanka) and Lina Al-Fayyad (Jordan)

Do YOU believe that the AIBA system is truly transparent and understood by all? Do you believe that the AIBA is right to only include three women’s weights for women in Rio 2016 as in London 2012 rather than a minimum of five? Do YOU believe that India’s Mary Kom, herself an AIBA Ambassador for 2012 and 2016 has been fairly treated?

Do YOU believe that the AIBA should reveal who makes the final choices recommended to the IOC? Is it President Wu or a special Committee and if the latter who are the members of that Committee and who and when were they elected? Why has the AIBA not included places for women Pros in Rio as they have for men? Is that not discrimination?

Any boxing association would we feel sure be delighted to hear the views of its boxers, coaches or clubs DIRECTLY. It is after all the boxers who put their bodies on the line and without them boxing in any of its formats would not survive. Why only listen to one’s own National Federations, many of whom themselves say they do not regularly hear from their own association let alone the International Boxing Association.

You can of course tell us here on WBAN on any of our Social Media channels or by email at : wban100@aol.com  OR of course feel free to copy us in if you share your views with AIBA President CK Wu and his Executive via : info@aiba.org

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