New Delhi: The move to allow professional boxers by the International Boxing Association (AIBA) from all organisations to compete in the Olympic Games has invited both bouquets and brickbats. But the opening of the door to professionals will allow many a celebrity boxers to once again compete in the world's greatest sporting event.
And one of the first boxers to announce the desire to compete in the 2016 Rio Olympics is Amir Khan. The celebrated British boxer is plotting a Olympic comeback, this time for Pakistan. The 2004 Athens silver medalist in light-weight category has welcomed Wednesday’s decision by AIBA at its extraordinary congress in Lausanne.
The 29-year-old said last year he would love to “turn it into a gold medal” if pro boxers were given the green light to go to Rio and just after AIBA's announcement on Wednesday, he expressed desires of representing the country of his parents’ birth – Pakistan.
Speaking at a promotional event in Karachi, the former light-welterweight world champion said: “It’s a decision which I welcome.
“It will help boxers, and if I am permitted as per rules and by my promoter then I would love to compete for Pakistan. I will be very happy if I can compete in Olympics. I want to serve Pakistan,” he said.
Khan turned pro one year after the Athens Games.
But in 2012, the AIBA had denied him permission to fight for Pakistan at London Games as he had represented Britain at various levels.
And his gamble to win the world middleweight title by stepping up two weight divisions ended in a brutal knocked out by WBC champion Saul Alvarez in the sixth round last month.
Meanwhile, Vijender Singh is not in the mood of Olympics. That's understandable, considering how he has managed to carve out a successful professional career, a hitherto unknown path in Indian boxing.
But, Vijender being Vijender, India's most celebrated boxer, many have already started promoting the middle-weight boxer for yet another go at the world's greatest sporting event. No harm in that too. People go at war, literally, to go to Olympics.
The 2008 Beijing medalist also questioned the timing of the AIBA decision, just around ten weeks before the Rio Olympics. “I have been hearing about this proposal from the start of this year. It’s strange that you take a decision with such little time to go before the Olympics,” he said.
Professional boxers who are willing to compete in Rio will have to first qualify in a tournament to be held in Venezuela in early July.