Boxing-AIBA hope Cubans will let their women fight after 2012
- Submitted by: manso
- 04 / 05 / 2011
By Alan Baldwin. LONDON, April 5 | Tue Apr 5, 2011 7:12am EDT. LONDON, April 5 (Reuters) - Officials are confident Cuba will eventually embrace women's boxing despite the country refusing to allow its females to fight in next year's London Olympics.
While women's boxing will be a big novelty at London 2012, with three gold medals up for grabs, the Caribbean communist-ruled island -- for decades a powerhouse in the men's sport -- remains firmly opposed to the idea.
Cuban head coach Pedro Roque was quoted as saying in 2009, when women's boxing was added to the Olympic programme, that Cuban women "are made for beauty and not to take blows around the head".
International Amateur Boxing Association (AIBA) president Wu Ching-kuo told Reuters at the SportAccord convention in London that their position had not changed but was outdated.
"If you don't develop, other countries take part. It is their loss," he said. "So I am sure they will gradually catch up.
"Maybe in Rio (the 2016 Olympics) they may start. Olympic medals are also a very important target for Cuba. We have 13 gold medals now, so everyone tries to get involved and take their share.
"(Sometimes) when people talk about women's boxing, the immediate reaction is 'how could women box, hitting each other's head?'. And Cuba is a typical example. But I think they gradually will change," he added.
Wu said women's boxing was sometimes even better to watch than the men's version.
"They will be very popular. All the television (companies) want to televise it. This is history."
The Taiwanese hopes to expand women's representation in the Olympic boxing competition, currently restricted to just three weight divisions, if it proves a success in London.
The current quota is for a total of 286 boxers across men and women, with the men's side reduced from 11 to 10 weight divisions.
Wu said 10 divisions was the absolute minimum for the men's competition and any expansion on the women's side would have to come by restricting the number of individual athletes or securing a bigger quota.
"For the future we need in London to prove that women's boxing has its value," said Wu. "This is the only sport in the Olympic games without women. Now we have the women and we need to see the performance, without any injuries or any damage to health.
"We hope not to affect men's (boxing) any more. We want to ask the IOC if there is any possibility we increase the quota and give it to the women. If not then we have to maybe reduce the number in each category."
Wu said he also hoped to persuade Cuba to allow its boxers to compete in AIBA's new World Series of Boxing team competition, which allows fighters to earn prize money and fight without headguards or vests.
Each of the 12 franchises around the world has a minimum of three slots open to boxers from abroad but Cuba has shied away from participating.
Part of that is a traditional aversion to professionalism but Wu said the fear of individual boxers defecting was also a stumbling block.
"They are very sensitive about professionals. They lost boxers, taken by the professional promoters," he said. "But we are still trying. They said they want to see the first season."