The International Boxing Association (AIBA) will introduce a right of protest against controversial judging “to ensure fair play” and prevent a repeat of ugly scenes that marred the Asian Games.
Two North Korean boxing coaches were thrown out of the Asian Games on Saturday after refusing to leave the ring and inciting the crowd after their fighter lost gold on a split decision to a Chinese boxer.
Police had to move in to escort the duo, who had their Asian Games credentials immediately removed, from the Jakarta International Expo arena. They will now face disciplinary action by AIBA.
And there were ugly scenes earlier in the week after an Iraqi fighter lost a close fight and a fan jumped over barriers and tried to storm the ring encouraged by the boxer’s cornermen.
“AIBA has a responsibility to ensure fair play and we’re going to make sure that happens,” AIBA executive director Tom Virgets told AFP.
“We’re going to have a protest committee in place because even in the best of times there will be (controversial) decisions, officials get tired, it’s like any other sport that is subjective.”
Currently AIBA’s technical regulations Rule 5 states: “No protest is permitted and the decisions of the referee in a bout are final.”
“Years ago we had a right to protest,” said Virgets. “The organisation felt it was being abused. They removed it from the rules.
‘Pendulum swung too far’
“I think we swung the pendulum too far. We should have just corrected the process to get rid of the abuses, instead we did away with the protests.
“I think that increased the problems, because it increased the frustration by not having any avenue to see if a perceived wrong could be corrected.”
Boxing is fighting for its Olympic future, under threat of being removed from Tokyo 2020 after a series of judging controversies at Rio 2016 when several officials were sent home after allegations of bout-rigging.
Following Rio, all 36 judges and officials were suspended and there has been turmoil within AIBA since, with former president CK Wu of Taiwan ousted and Uzbekistan’s Gafur Rahimov installed as interim president earlier this year.
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has demanded that boxing get its house in order or the sport which gave the world Olympians and legends such as Muhammad Ali, Joe Frazier and Sugar Ray Leonard faces Olympic extinction.
“Now the AIBA executive committee has voted to have a protest allowed and right now we are investigating different tools to use in order to have an appropriate process,” Virgets confirmed.
“The technical rules committee is working on that and in the very near future we are going to see this rule implemented across all out competitions.”
It is not the first time boxing at the Asian Games has been dogged by controversial judging.
Four years ago there were astonishing scenes in Incheon as India’s Sarita Devi – who battered her Korean rival in a women’s semi-final but still lost a unanimous decision – refused to accept her bronze medal and tried to hang it around the neck of her victor.
Devi, who dumped the medal on the podium and stormed away in tears, was later banned for a year.