USA Boxing Battles the Lure of the Professional Ranks
USA Boxing continues to battle with professional promoters and managers attempting to sign young amateur boxers before they are mentally and physically ready to enter the professionalranks, ending their run at Olympic glory. This practice will have a dramatic impact on future Olympic teams as well as the athletes who sign away their rights for a significantly smaller value thanthey could receive at a future date.
Due to the negative impact of such practice on our young athletes and their potential for Olympic medals, USA Boxing is taking steps to stop this process.In addition, USA Boxing is attempting to create legislation to prevent professional promoters from attempting to sign athletes in the Olympic pipeline.
USA Boxing Athlete Benefits
Top athletes have an opportunity to participate in USA Boxing’s recently recreated resident program at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colo., where they have the ability to train full-time and pursue further educational programs. The athletes in the resident program not only have all of their room and board covered but also enjoy access to world class training facilities, medical care, and a wide array of athlete services. They receive all of these services at no cost and would not owe anyone a percentage of future earnings.
USA Boxing is also pursuing legislation to protect athletes in the Olympic pipeline and allow them to win medals for the United States without distraction or interference. The potential legislation would prevent professional promoters from signing national team athletes that will be age eligible for next Olympic Games. By doing so, the athletes will have the opportunity to physically and mentally mature and win Olympic medals for the United States.
Olympic Glory Leads to Professional Success
While every young athlete dreams of being rich and famous, their rush to reach those goals can be a strong deterrent to their career aspirations. History suggests that the athletes who fully commit to the sport and gain valuable experience through the Olympic Games go on to reach the highest levels as professionals. Currently, world champions in nine of the 12 professional weight classes from super bantamweight (122 lbs) through heavyweight are former Olympians or Olympic medalists.
Over boxing history, the vast majority of the great champions started in the Olympic Games. From Muhammad Ali (as Cassius Clay) and Joe Frazier to Sugar Ray Leonard and Oscar de la Hoya and now the top two pound-for-pound boxers in the world, Floyd Mayweather, Jr., and Andre Ward, many of the world’s best professional boxers started in the Olympic Games. This trend continues today with Olympians from across the globe enjoying success at every level. Olympians are not only winning world title belts but also enjoying awards on the way up. Since 2001, nine of the 12 ESPN Prospects of the Year competed in the Olympic Games prior to turning professional.
Recently, high profile Olympic champions from three major boxing nations have entered the professional ranks with great excitement and will have the opportunity to move quickly towards a world title due to their extensive amateur backgrounds. Cuban two-time Olympic gold medalist Guillermo Rigondeaux won his world championship in only his eighth professional fight and similar plans are in place for China’s two-time Olympic champion Zou Shiming and Ukraine’s Vasyl Lomanchenko.
**per Julie Goldsticker, USA Boxing