Just a Reminder That Olympic Boxing Has Always Been Shady as Hell
In one of the biggest boxing controversies since the Bradley-Pacquiao decision of four years ago, Irish amateur boxer Michael Conlan made headlines earlier this week when he gave an expletive-filled TV interview following his loss to Russia’s Vladimir Nikitin in the Rio Olympics. After video of his interview went viral across the internet, people started sharing stories of allegedly rigged Olympic boxing matches. Boxing isn’t exactly a “clean” sport, but Olympic boxing might just take it to an entirely different level.
Let’s start with 2016 and work our way backward. Video of Conlan’s fight and full interview are not legally available online in the U.S., but helpful Redditor ItsTyrrellYo transcribed the interview for our benefit. Here are the most relevant portions:
“AIBA are cheats, they’re f*cking cheats… I’ll never box for AIBA again, they’re cheating bastards, paying everybody… They’re known for being cheats, and they’ll always be cheats. Amateur boxing stinks, from the core, right to the top.”
He went on to suggest on Twitter that Vladimir Putin personally paid off AIBA, the commission that oversees Olympic boxing:
When AIBA sent multiple judges home after complaints about decisions in Conlan’s and others’ fights, Conlan weighed in again:
Conlan’s moment isn’t the only time AIBA has been implicated in a match-fixing scandal. In the 2012 London Olympics, Japanese boxer Satoshi Shimizu knocked down Azerbaijani boxer Magomed Abdulhamidov six times in one round — and was named the loser by AIBA judges. Video of the round is available on Deadspin. For those unfamiliar with boxing, three knockdowns in a single round is universally grounds to stop a fight, both for competitiveness and for the health of the fighters.
In September 2011, BBC Newsnight alleged that Azerbaijan had paid AIBA $9 million that year, and alleged that the payoff was to guarantee Azerbaijani fighters two gold medals in the 2012 Olympics. While AIBA admitted that it had received such a payment, it claimed that the medal-fixing allegations were “preposterous and utterly untrue.”
Fast forward a few months, however, and Azerbaijani fighter Abdulhamidov won his match against Shimizu. (The result of the match was later overturned after a complaint by Japanese officials.)
After the Conlan interview went viral on Reddit, the following video of American Roy Jones Jr.’s gold medal bout with Korean boxer Si Hun Park at the 1988 Seoul Olympics also reached the front page of /r/videos:
In the video, Jones utterly dominates Park throughout the fight, landing 86 punches to Park’s 32. But Park takes home the gold. A decade later, a probe by the International Olympic Committee confirmed everyone’s suspicions: South Korean officials paid off the judges. Still, the IOC let Park keep the gold.
These are just three notable examples. There are whole listicles about the many controversies AIBA has gotten itself into.
Now, in 2016, international boxing luminaries have called for AIBA president CK WU to resign. But even if he does, what will change? AIBA has been the subject of so much controversy in the boxing world that we doubt fans will ever trust their name in presiding over a truly clean sport. Watching Olympic boxing with an expectation of fairness might just be, for now at least, a lost cause.
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