Lausanne (Switzerland), June 1 (IANS) Star Indian boxer Vijender Singh has been handed a golden chance to represent the country at the Rio Olypics after the International Boxing Association (AIBA) confirmed on Wednesday that professional pugilists will be allowed to compete at the quadrennial extravaganza.
In a vote on Wednesday, 84 of the 88 member-federations of the AIBA approved a rule change allowing professional boxers to compete at the Olympics.
AIBA chief Ching-Kuo Wu informed the media that a total of 26 Olympic berths accross all weight categories will be up for grabs at a qualifying tournament for professional boxers to be held in Venezuela next month.
Vijender took to social media platform Twitter to welcome AIBA’s decision.
“I welcome this move by @AIBA_Boxing for allowing pro boxers to participate in Olympics. Goodluck to all boxers in pro circuit,” Vijender wrote on his official Twitter handle.
However, the move has also attracted a lot of criticism as many argue that it will be unfair to pit amateur boxers against established professionals. Several former professional stars like the legendary Mike Tyson and former world heavyweight champion Lennox Lewis have denounced the move although current British pro boxer Amir Khan has welcomed it.
Wednesday’s development is the latest of several far reaching moves initiated by Wu since he became AIBA chief. Under his leadership, the AIBA set up the semi-professional World Series Boxing (WSB) in 2011 in which fighters earned money competing for city-based teams. He also introduced women’s boxing at the London Olympics in 2012.
Some of those WSB boxers have already secured places at the Rio Games through official qualifying tournaments.