Boxing: Calls for rule change after Asian Games storm

Boxing: Calls for rule change after Asian Games storm

INCHEON, South Korea - Countries may challenge new boxing judging rules after a storm of controversy that nearly brought the Asian Games boxing to blows outside the ring, sports officials told AFP.

Ed Picson and Ricky Vargas, executive director and president of the Association of Boxing Alliances in the Philippines, told AFP they had already written to governing bodies demanding change.

Boxers from the Philippines, India and Mongolia all claimed they were the victims of scoring that favoured the South Korean hosts of the games in Incheon.

Nineteen-year-old Ian Clark Bautista's loss to Choe Sang-Dong was the one that really hurt the Philippines.

"How I am to explain to a 19-year-old kid, who practically threw away four years of his life training away from his family, that the world is not as beautiful as it used to look to him," Picson said in an interview.

"And what about the Korean boy who beat him? What sort of values are we teaching him? That he can win even if he was inferior?" Vargas said Mark Anthony Barriga, another Filipino, should also have won. They were two fights that were stolen from us," he said.

The Philippines body has written to the Incheon Asian Games Organising Committee calling for backing for rule changes after the acrimonious disputes.

"I think there can be a little bit more integrity in this process," said Vargas.

"Boxing is a sport in that you practically put your life on the line every time you step in the ring. And this is what comes out. It's really disappointing." The International Boxing Association (AIBA) introduced scoring rules similar to those used in professional bouts on August 31. The Asian Games was the first international tournament to use them.

Now there are five judges scoring, but only three are counted at random. That means a fighter could win 3-0 or lost 2-1, depending on the scores.

The Philippines body will decide after discussions in Manila next week whether to raise the matter at the AIBA congress next month on Jeju island in South Korea.


Boxers 'wronged'

"Some people from other federations have already told me they would like to raise these issues at the congress," said Picson.

Bat-Erdene Badmaanyambuu, Mongolia's delegation chief, backed calls for change.

"What happened in boxing at these Games was not good. It was there for everyone to see. Our boxer was wronged, the Indian boxer was wronged too ... as were others.

"Once we return home we will write to the AIBA that the rules need to be changed. If they agree, we will co-operate with them in changing the rules. Boxing is not a fair sport under the current rules." The most controversial moment of the Asian Games came after India's Sarita Devi pounded South Korea's Park Ji-Na in the women's lightweight semi-final.

When Park's hand was raised in victory Devi's husband launched into a rant at officials which saw scuffles and police called in.

Twenty-four hours later a sobbing Devi refused to accept her bronze medal and instead hung it on Park's neck.

She has since apologised to the AIBA but they are pursuing a disciplinary case against her. 



"AIBA president Wu Ching-kwo has always championed transparency and fairness, but things like these damage the credibility of the sport," said Picson.

The rows completely overshadowed Kazakhstan's achievement in winning six golds on Friday.

Sheikh Ahmad Al-Fahad Al-Sabah, the president of Olympic Council of Asia, presented some of the medals at the tournament.

"It's not new in boxing. For many years boxing has had problems with athletes claiming unfairness," Sheikh Ahmad said. "They're trying to solve this problem." "I didn't see those matches but I'm hearing a lot of rumours (about) the Filipino guy and the Indian female who deserved a better position than what they got. But in the end we have to respect the judges." The AIBA's decision to do away with headguards which are primarily designed to prevent cuts has also come under fire.

Together with the change in the scoring system the changes were intended to attract more fans by mirroring professional boxing.

Several fights in Incheon were stopped because of cuts which would not have occurred with headguards.

"Now to prevent cuts they are clamping down on ducking, even weaving. But what's a guy to do if a punch comes his way? Keep his head up to be hit?" said Picson.

"How is all this and all the controversy going to attract people to the sport? It needs to be considered very seriously." 

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