Olympic thoughts

By Tom Donelson, BASN boxing writer
Updated: August 13, 2012

IOWA CITY, IOWA-–The Olympics are now over and if you want to see the problems with boxing, the Olympics showed it in spades. First, the inability of the American men to garner any medal shows how far American boxing has decline. There was a time that American Olympic boxing became the fertile ground for future boxing stars. We followed these young fighters, waiting for when they turned pro but now, who really cares? There will be no superstar coming out of this Olympic and very little buzz about a group of fighters who failed to medal. The only two name fighters that have potential to be stars are coming from the women side. Claressa Shields pounded her to a Gold Medal and Marlen Esparza won a bronze. Women boxers may help launch women boxing to higher levels and certainly, Ms. Shields has a story to tell plus she is an explosive fighters.
As for the men, the entire program should be blown up and as Ted Atlas noted, International boxing should be blown up as well. As for men boxing program, a new organization and coordination among trainers are needed to train boxers in the Olympic style of boxing. Of course, that is a problematic issue for amateur boxing today is unsuitable for the professional game. It is two separate sports and any American fighter who wants to be a professional boxer; amateur boxing may be hindrance.
Amateur boxing went a different path in the 1990’s as bad decisions and corruption was sinking the sport. The Roy Jones decision highlighted the problem as Jones beat up a Korean fighter only to lose a bad decision in the 1988 Olympics. From that point, amateur boxing began to introduce subjectivity by counting punches and having the fighter with the most points win. This changed the sport radically as boxing often emphasized not just punching but the efficacy of the punches. A punch that sends an opponent down for an eight count counted no more than a weak jab. Amateur boxing became a game of touch as oppose to fighting. This has put American boxers at a disadvantage since being aggressive is an advantage in the professional style but it is losing style for Amateur boxing.
The problem has been compounded that corruption and bad judging hasn’t stopped. Even with a more subjective scoring system, there were more than enough times in this Olympics that fans were left scratching their heads about decisions. There were times that some fighters must have to ask him or herself what do you have to do score? A system that was designed to eliminate or reduce bad scoring and corruption is still riddled with incompetent officials.
The first solution is to have Amateur boxing return to a style similar to professional boxing and maybe it could combine the new system with the return of old. A power punch should count for more than a jab and if you knock an opponent down or force an eight count; that should be rewarded with higher score. A boxer should be able to move seamlessly from the Amateur rank to the professional ranks without having to adjust to a different style. This would not eliminate bad decision or corruption but at least a fighter knows that he or she is preparing for a career in the professional rank.
Not only that, you will actually see better fights and who knows, maybe boxing could return to prime time and maybe American audience might just care a little more. Boxing future is the Amateur and if Amateur ranks are rife with corruption and incompetence; then boxing ability to grow as a sport is compromise. Olympics is a vehicle for the sport to be highlighted and what causal fans saw was a sport riddled with incompetence and controversy. There were very few good stories coming out of the Olympics and for a sport that is struggling; this was a black eye that it could least afford.