Power struggle overshadows Paris Games as boxing's future hangs in balance

Power struggle overshadows Paris Games as boxing

Alkass Digital

Boxing has been an almost ever-present fixture at the Olympics but a bitter conflict over the sport's governance has cast doubt over its future, with this year's tournament in danger of being the last for a while at least.

Just as in Tokyo, the boxing tournaments in Paris are being organised by the International Olympic Committee (IOC), which stripped the International Boxing Association (IBA) of recognition last June.

The IBA's decision to award prize money to boxers at the Paris Games has driven yet another wedge into relations between the bodies and there are fears the sport might be excluded from future Olympics and it is not on the initial programme for Los Angeles 2028.

It is hard to imagine an Olympic landscape without the 'sweet science' - which has been a part of every Games since 1904 with the exception of Stockholm 1912 - and even amid the doom and gloom, there is hope that the allure of the brutal sport will prevail.

"The future of boxing is the best and brightest we can possibly imagine," IBA president Umar Kremlev told Reuters.

"In the world, there are only two sports that can always fill out stadiums, football and boxing. We just need to continue with the work that we have been doing and prove that boxing is the flagship of all Olympic sports."


Inside the ring, Cuba once again looks set to lead the way when the July 27-Aug. 10 tournament kicks off.

Despite sending just seven boxers to the Tokyo Olympics, the amateur boxing powerhouse stole the limelight as they won four gold medals to top the podium ahead of the United States, their much larger and wealthier neighbours.

This time around, their contingent will have even fewer boxers, with only five pugilists making the trans-Atlantic trip, but with two twice gold medallists among their ranks it would be foolish to count Cuba out.

Julio Cesar La Cruz and Arlen Lopez Cardona, champions in both Tokyo and Rio, will be looking to carve out a small slice of history in Paris by winning their third gold medals and joining an exclusive club alongside Teofilo Stevenson, Felix Savon and Lazlo Papp.

However, the North American nation will be disappointed not to have any women boxers on their Olympic roster, after they ended a decades-long ban on women competing in tournaments in 2022.


Since the introduction of women's boxing at the Olympics in 2012, organisers have gradually increased the weight divisions, with Paris featuring six categories for women - twice as many as at the 2012 and 2016 Games.

Ireland's Kellie Harrington will aim to retain her lightweight gold from Tokyo but her preparations have not been ideal after she suffered her first loss in over three years at the European Elite Championships in April.

The 34-year-old, who will retire after the Paris Games, said the defeat had strengthened her resolve to bow out with a win, adding: "It has put a bit of a fire under my arse to get me going again."

Welterweight boxer Busenaz Surmeneli, who clinched Turkey's first-ever boxing gold in Tokyo, has looked imperious in the build-up to Paris, having won the World Championships, European Games and European Championships since 2021.

The men's super-heavyweight category is also one to watch, with Olympic, world and Asian Games champion Bakhodir Jalolov of Uzbekistan up against the likes of Britain's Delicious Orie and Teremoana Junior of Australia.

The United States, the most successful nation in Olympic boxing history, did not win a gold medal in Tokyo and are likely to struggle again with a team made up of rookies, with 2021 world champion Jahmal Harvey looking like their best shot.