By Ronnie Nathanielsz
The president of the World Boxing Organization has joined a growing number of the world professional boxing organizations and outstanding promoters and criticized the plan of the International Amateur Boxing Association or AIBA headed by its president Dr. Ching-Kuo Wu to include select pro boxers in the Olympic Games beginning in Brazil in 2016.
Francisco “Paco” Valcarcel, in answer to a query from this columnist on the AIBA plan noted that many of the greatest WBO Champions were Olympic Boxers and they benefited greatly from their Olympic experiences.
Valcarcel said “Professional Boxing has had a great resurgence of popularity over the last 25 years, with countless new venues worldwide where Professional Boxing Championships are contested and numerous new media outlets competing for Boxing’s ever increasing television audience. During this same period AIBA has presided over a decline in popularity and fairness of amateur boxing.”
The WBO president said “We have all recognized for many years how unfair it is that Communist Countries have permanent professional teams competing against true amateurs. 30 year old Cuban professionals have competed against 16 to 18 year old free world amateurs. One Gold Medal is a glorious accomplishment for any athlete. 3 Gold Medals for a Boxer only happens through gross exploitation of the Boxer by the National Association.”
Valcarcel indicated that every Olympic Medalist “should be able to profit from his success and glory and attain his or her fair share of the value that the Boxer’s skills and talents generate. Professional Boxing, whether it is conducted by AIBA or through the traditional structure, is not physical education. It is a professional sport conducted for the entertainment of the fans, by athletes motivated by the revenue they can earn. They make great sacrifices to reach the pinnacle of the sport. They deserve to receive the fair reward for the sacrifices they make and the risks they take.”
He said AIBA “now wants to structure permanent National Team that competes as professionals until they miraculously reemerge as amateurs every four years at the Olympics. They have recognized the unpopularity of the sports style they have advocated and their answer is to copy the professional style, but compete as national teams of indentured, underpaid house fighters. “
Valcarcel insisted “No one seriously believes any of the AIBA boxers would be competitive against WBO Champions. This is because WBO Champions are formed through free and open competition to determine the best boxers in the world. It is tragic that AIBA is advocating that countries with many millions of people and many thousands of athletes should restrict the opportunity for its citizens to compete professionally to its National Team in AIBA structure where they are paid not like Professional Boxing Champions based on the amount of revenue that a free market will determine, but based on a set structure determined by the National Team. “
The WBO president expressed the hope that “colonialism and exploitation should be diminishing as the World progresses” even as he criticized AIBA’s concept as “an exploitive and foolish step backward from democracy and free markets to collective determination of opportunities and economic colonialism. “
Valcarcel referred to the April 13 WBO super bantamweight championship between Nonito “The Filipino Flash” Donaire and former Cuban two-time Olympic gold medalist Guillermo Rigondeaux as “ A great example of the gross distortion of market dynamics that AIBA is perpetrating on its participants.” He pointed out that Rigondeaux “earned more in that one evening than the entire Cuban AIBA team will be paid by Cuba in their lifetimes.”
He accused AIBA under of wanting to “create a monopoly in the name of the International Olympic movement through government fiats, and there doing diminish the popularity of the sport of Boxing and the opportunities of athletes to compete and benefit from professional boxing. Boxing is too hard a sport to ask its competitors to endure closed shops, suppressed earning and diminished opportunities. AIBA should be reformed to return Olympic Boxing to its prior excellence and popularity. It has no business in Professional Boxing and approaches it with the same imperious and feckless manner that it has abused amateur boxing.”