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Boxing

Women toss hat in rings

August 19, 2008
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BEIJING - Amateur boxing's top officials think it's long past time for female fighters to stand on the Olympic podium.

Women's boxing should be added to the 2012 London Games, the executive committee of the International Boxing Association (AIBA) formally proclaimed yesterday, announcing plans to develop a detailed proposal to put before the International Olympic Committee later this year.

AIBA president Wu Ching-Kuo, who has enacted a wide slate of reforms in the last two years to cleanse a long-shady amateur sport, thinks the growing women's sport is highly likely to be successful in its bid.

"The level of boxing is very high, very good," Wu said. "Many of our federations have asked us to support women's boxing in the Olympics. We hope we'll soon have the women competing there."

AIBA's women's committee will present the proposal to the IOC, and committee chair Joyce Bowen echoes Wu's anticipation of success when the IOC decides in December.

"We have every opportunity to get in there," said Bowen, of Barbados. "We're looking forward to it. The time has been there for a long while. We were just waiting, but we've been ready long enough."

With the arrival of women's wrestling in Athens, boxing is the only summer Olympic sport without a female analogue. Ski jumping also doesn't have women's competition at the Olympics because the IOC believes the sport is too new.

But after 14 years of oversight by AIBA, Wu believes women's boxing is sophisticated enough to meet the Olympic criteria for competition - and it also could help fill the deficit of total female athletes in the Olympic field.

AIBA has approved and governed women's boxing since 1994, establishing its women's committee a decade ago and holding world championship tournaments and regional events. Those tournaments would serve as Olympic qualifiers if the sport is put on the London program.

Women's boxing wasn't included in the Beijing field three years ago, in part because of concerns about AIBA's tangled tradition of cronyism, judging corruption, and incompetent management. Those concerns have been assuaged by Wu's more transparent presidency. (AP)

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