The time has come once more where the world focuses much of its attention over a span of two weeks for the Summer Olympic Games. Obviously, this time, the 2020 games is actually taking place in 2021 after a year’s delay due to the ongoing global COVID-19. As most know, even with a year delay from when the games were originally scheduled in the summer of last year, these Olympics have taken place under significant controversy due to the ongoing circumstances of the global COVID-19 crisis around the world, but more specifically in the games’ host country Japan.
While this observer will not give the reader a long thorough rehash of everything that has gone on, those who know me and those who follow yours truly across social media platforms including Twitter know that I have heavily criticized the decision of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) for its decision to go on with the rescheduled games, despite mounting evidence that it was not in the best interest of the country of Japan nor in the interest of the athletes from around the world to hold the Olympics under the circumstances of a worsening epidemic. Despite this criticism of which I stand by, with the Olympics in full swing, the time has come for this observer to provide his take on the Olympic Boxing tournament that is currently ongoing in Tokyo.
While with the exception of the 2012 games that were held in London, England, I have covered every Olympic Boxing tournament in some form since the 2000 Olympic Games that were held in Sydney, Australia, due to the amount of bouts that typically take place over the course of an Olympic tournament, I offer the reader some of my impressions over the course of the tournament in summary-form often broken into two feature columns that are released both during competition as well as shortly after the games have concluded. With well over one hundred bouts having taken place as of this writing, it is now time for me to share some of my thoughts on what I’ve seen thus far.
Ironically, with these Olympics taking place with no spectators beyond essential personnel and the respective Olympic teams in attendance at the various events including, but certainly not limited to the Boxing tournament, I did not feel a sense that the atmosphere would feel unusual. This is perhaps due to the fact that for well over a year now, numerous sporting events around the world have taken place in settings closed to the general public depending on the circumstances of COVID-19 in the given region where events are held. While there is certainly no disputing that there is an element of excitement that comes from the addition of crowds attending events, I found myself feeling as though this would likely not be an adjustment for the athletes competing as more than likely, they were given time to prepare for an atmosphere without spectators.
Nevertheless, the first Olympics in modern history to have taken place with no crowds in attendance does make the 2020 Tokyo Olympics unique even if it is for reasons that will be criticized for years to come. As for the Boxing tournament, the tournament taking place at Tokyo’s Kokugikan Arena has seen highly competitive bouts across both the Men’s and Women’s competitions. While many of the bouts have followed a pattern of very close bouts both in terms of the action inside the ring as well as how the bouts are scored, there has not been an element of “Controversy” thus far.
This is perhaps due to the move by the IOC during the 2016 games to remove the Amateur Boxing Association (AIBA) from both overseeing and hosting the tournament after yet another tournament that was seen as controversial in some aspects, due to the way AIBA had handled matters. The IOC instead implanted the concept of what it called it’s Boxing Task Force, Over the first week of competition, while several of the bouts have been close and frankly could have been scored either way depending on one’s perspective, there has not been the sense of questionable scoring or the feeling of either incompetent scoring or outright corruption that has followed many Olympic tournaments due both to all five official judges scorecards being counted as well as the scores being presented in an open scoring format in an effort to both be transparent as well as hopefully eliminate any potential controversy as far as scoring is concerned. Although it is difficult for any sport to be regulated perfectly, so far, I feel that this has been a significant step in the right direction for Amateur Boxing at least as far as the Olympics are concerned and this should be something that if it is able to remain as it has been during the first week of competition for the remainder of the tournament, should be followed by other Amateur Boxing associations around the world including AIBA in the future.
It should also not be overlooked as the IOC Boxing Task Force in its commitment to transparency, this is the first Olympic Boxing Tournament to feature as many as fifteen female officials between referees and judges, up from six in the previous Olympics as well as it being the first Olympics to see five weight classes represented in Women’s Boxing up from three weight divisions in the previous 2016 games.
As such, Women’s Boxing has taken a significant part of the spotlight of this Olympic tournament and in addition to adding more weight classes for female fighters, the women competing in Tokyo have also seen the addition of one element that many people involved in Boxing, including those of us who cover the sport like yours truly have been screaming to see added to Women’s professional Boxing for years. Three minute rounds.
For whatever reason, it has been a struggle for the women of the sport to be able to compete under the same round duration as their male counterparts. While this is something that is not seen in the sport of Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) where women are able to compete in bouts scheduled for rounds of five minutes in duration either scheduled for three rounds for non-title bouts or five rounds for championship bouts, the same duration of minutes per round and scheduled rounds as male MMA fighters in most MMA promotions, the women of Boxing have been fighting in two minute rounds for decades.
Although the idea of two minute rounds on the surface usually ensures a fast-paced fight, there is not, nor has there ever been evidence that female fighters could not fight at the same length of rounds as men, in my view. Furthermore, like many involved in the sport, I feel removing the third minute of a round for women boxers not only removes an element of strategy that a fighter can implement in terms of tactics, but also has resulted in many bouts being scored draws due to the shorter duration of rounds. Even though one should not generalize the idea that more fights would end by way of knockout/referee’s stoppage if the women of the sport had the benefit of an extra minute per round, I feel at minimum, we would see more conclusive results in terms of scoring if not more fighters being able to end fights within the distance on a more consistent basis.
With the addition of two more weight classes in this Tokyo Olympics, the 126lb. Featherweight and 147lb. Welterweight divisions, joining the 112lb. Flyweight division, the 135lb. Lightweight division, and the 160lb. Middleweight divisions that previously saw competition at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, as well as Female fighters being able to box in three minute rounds, hopefully, this Olympics will be known as a major step forward towards equality in Boxing that ultimately the professional sport will adapt to for the women that compete in it.
While there is certainly more to come in the 2020 Olympic Boxing tournament that will be covered by yours truly in due time, my initial impression of this tournament though there is more to come and more to discuss regarding the fights and the fighters competing, is the IOC is on the right track and if they are able to see everything through to the finish line of this Olympics, Boxing should be elevated going forward. It would be a win both for the sport of Boxing as well as the Olympics.
“And That’s The Boxing Truth.”
Part 2 of Olympic coverage here on The Boxing Truth®️ will be released here on the website in the week following the conclusion of the 2020 Summer Olympics. An announcement on when it will be released will be announced on the website in the next week. Stay tuned.
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