Boxing faces uncertain Olympic future | Sunday Observer

Boxing faces uncertain Olympic future

TOKYO AFP: Boxing is fighting for its Olympic future amid serious concerns over the governing body AIBA, threatening the participation of the sport at the Tokyo 2020 Games.

Many giants of the sport began their careers as amateurs in the Olympic ring.

In 1960 in Rome, a relatively unknown lightweight 18-year-old called Cassius Clay made his Olympic debut. He would go on to become Muhammad Ali, widely considered the greatest boxer of all time. After failing to win selection for the US team in 1972, Sugar Ray Leonard headed to Montreal in 1976 to take part in what has been hailed the greatest competition in Olympic history, packed with stars.

In the end, the 21-year-old cruised through the tournament, winning every bout 5-0 and dispatching the mighty Cuban Andres Aldama in the gold medal bout, also by a 5-0 decision. American George Foreman arrived at the 1968 Games in Mexico City as a 19-year-old novice with only 18 bouts to his name.

He left a superstar of the sport, winning three out of four of his bouts by knock-out or stoppage, including stopping tough Soviet fighter Jonas Cepulis in the second round in the final.

Floyd Mayweather will forever be known for the 2015 “Fight of the Century” against Filipino Manny Pacquiao -- the highest grossing bout of all time -- but his Olympic career was shrouded in controversy as he won only a bronze medal. Leon “Neon” Spinks is best known for becoming World Heavyweight Champion after defeating Ali in 1978 in a split decision considered one of the sport’s most controversial.

But he too cut his teeth in the Olympic ring, winning gold in Montreal in the light-heavyweight division.