Katie Taylor’s hopes of entering the professional ring in the coming weeks while still retaining her ambition of claiming a gold medal at the 2016 Olympics have been dashed.
Taylor had expressed her frustration with the International Amateur Boxing Association’s (AIBA) lack of progress in developing the women’s sport earlier this year, and threatened to turn her back on her Rio dream to enter the world of professional boxing.
Currently male boxers are allowed to compete in the World Series of Boxing (WSB), a professional tournament potential Olympians can enter. But last week she said: “My dad has been emailing them back and forth and hopefully things will get sorted in the next few weeks. That’s what they promised anyway and hopefully the WSB will get going in the next few months.”
However Sébastien Gillot of the AIBA confirmed that while his organisation were hoping to create a professional event for women, it would not happen in the timeframe Taylor had hoped for.
“She has had correspondence with our president Dr Ching-Kuo Wu and I was copied in on those correspondences,” he said.
“In those it said we are investigating and are interested in launching WSB for women such as the ATB (AIBA Professional Boxing), the new professional boxing programme starting next year. We also mentioned that WSB is a very young product and is still not established so it is too early to put any date on a potential start to WSB for women.
“Saying it will be done in the next few weeks or months is a bit too much. Unfortunately there has been a misunderstanding there. We absolutely want to launch WSB and ATB for women but it will be within the next year.
“It’s something we are evaluating on a regular basis. The market is still a little bit too young to change the WSB format but we are constantly looking for the best way to integrate women’s boxing and make it as big as the men’s are. This is why we don’t want to just jump in and launch women’s just for the sake of it.”
Gillot claimed Taylor had been invited to discuss the issue with Dr Wu at the AIBA Women’s Youth and Junior World Championships in Bulgaria at the end of September but the Bray boxer declined as she was meeting with professional promoters. “We understand her frustration,” said Gillot.
“She has to believe in us that we are pushing as much as we can for women’s boxing, not only for the Olympic games but we’re also very proud of having her as our ambassador for women’s boxing. The president invited her to Bulgaria for the youth championships to speak with her face to face to hear her frustration and let her know what the AIBA is doing for women’s boxing but she could not make it as she was having discussions with professional promoters at the same time.
“It was unfortunate because she is a huge inspiration for young boxers. That’s why we are proud of having her and we hope she will be able to join one of our youth events as soon as possible because we want her to be able to inspire our young female boxers.
“We also hope to see her next year at the world boxing championships in Canada. Whatever we can do to develop women’s boxing we will do, believe me, and we will keep her involved.”
The AIBA’s efforts to keep Taylor away from professional boxing is understandable, given massive growth in numbers they have noticed since the success of last year’s debut at the Olympics. Gillot outlined the organisation’s disappointment at not securing more medal events at the Rio Games in 2016 and vowed to continue developing women’s boxing.
“We have tried to defend our position as much as possible but ultimately it comes down to the number of medals the IOC (International Olympic Committee) wants to have in the Olympics and they didn’t want to increase this number. It hasn’t changed our minds though and we will come back and back and back.
“We can understand the frustration of Katie but actually our work and the dedication of boxers like her is paying off.
“At the youth and junior women’s world championships the number of participants increased by 30%. It’s a huge factor that shows due to our work and Katie and the other women boxers that we are developing women’s boxing. We’ve got to go further but that will take time unfortunately.”
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