Boxing at the Olympic Games has paved the way for numerous fighters to earn a name for themselves and move into the big leagues, with Anthony Joshua, Katie Taylor and Amir Khan all scrapping their way into the public eye with sparkling Olympic displays.
This year looks set to offer a fresh batch of fighters the chance to impress on the biggest stage of all, but who will feature at the Games? And will they take their chance?
RadioTimes.com brings you up to speed with everything you need to know about boxing at the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo in the summer of 2021.
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When is boxing at the Olympics?
Boxing runs between Saturday 24th July until Sunday 8th August.
Medal finals begin from Saturday 31st July and run until the competition ends.
Check out our guide on how to watch Olympics 2020 or see Olympics on TV today for more details, timings, and exclusive expert analysis from some of the biggest names in world sport over the coming weeks.
Sir Chris Hoy, Beth Tweddle, Rebecca Adlington, Matthew Pinsent and Dame Jess Ennis-Hill are among the stars we have to being their esteemed opinions, so don’t miss what they have to say.
Team GB Olympic boxers
GB Boxing will send a team of eleven boxers to Tokyo, including European gold medallists Pat McCormack and Lauren Price, fighting at welterweight and middleweight respectively.
Among the big hitters, Frazer and Cheavon Clarke will be fighting at superheavyweight, while comparative newcomer Caroline Dubois qualified for the Olympics in only her fifth senior fight.
How do you qualify for Olympic boxing?
Traditionally, boxers qualify for a place at the Olympics by winning multiple bouts at regional qualifying events for Asia & Oceania, Europe, Pan-America and Africa.
The coronavirus pandemic caused the cancellation of the Pan-American tournaments, forcing the IOC to allocate places according to the rankings compiled by the IOC’s newly created Boxing Task Force.
GB Boxing had a particularly good European qualifier, earning places for 11 fighters and at one point winning a clean sweep of the day’s bouts.
Why are there no professional boxers in Olympic boxing?
Traditionally, only amateur boxers could compete at the Olympics, a rule that was changed by the Amateur International Boxing Association in 2016. Optimists believed this was an attempt to bring the big names of professional boxing into the Olympics, while cynics saw it as an attempt by the AIBA to muscle into the lucrative world of professional pugilism by signing contracts with fighters that normally fall under the jurisdiction of traditional sanctioning bodies such as the WBC and WBA.
In either case, only three professionals took part in 2016, and while there will be at least four this time, the pros at the Olympics are mostly beginners to professional prizefighting who only turned pro when the pandemic put their amateur careers on ice. Don’t be disappointed if you don’t see Saul Alvarez or Anthony Joshua on the bill!
The AIBA, meanwhile, has been stripped of the right to organise Olympic boxing after reports suggested that the organisation posed a “legal, financial and reputational risk” to the IOC. In its place, an ad hoc Boxing Task Force led by the head of the International Gymnastics Federation, Morinari Watanabe, has been supervising the qualifying tournaments and will oversee the Olympic boxing.
Who is the best Olympic boxer?
Cuba has traditionally dominated amateur boxing, largely because its ban on “professional” sports in that country means that Cuban fighters stay in the amateur ranks long after other nation’s fighters turn professional. It’s not uncommon for the Cuban team to field veterans of multiple Olympics – the great Teófilo Stevenson’s heavyweight gold medals spanned three Olympiads.
Twenty-five-year-old light-welterweight Andy Cruz will be Havana’s biggest hope in Tokyo – he already has four gold medals from the World Championships and Pan-American games, and looks set to hang the Olympic variety next to them in his trophy cabinet due to his speedy counterpunching.
The other great force in Olympic boxing is Uzbekistan, who dominated in Rio and brings an even stronger squad this time around. The most notable squad member is Shakhobidin Zoirov, one of the Olympic “professionals” who won a gold medal in Rio and currently has a 3-0 professional record as a bantamweight.
In the women’s events, six-time world champion Mary Kom of India will draw lots of attention in her final Olympics, while the Chinese team boasts a raft of talented fighters including Huang Hsiao-wen, a likely flyweight rival for Kom, and Wu Shih-yi in the lightweights.
The Olympic boxing schedule runs from the 24th of July to the 8th of August.
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