One of the most interesting points of the first day of the 98th Convention of the World Boxing Association (WBA) that opened Thursday, in Fuzhou, China, was an extraordinary interview of WBA President Gilberto Jesus Mendoza on stage conducted by Argentine journalist Carlos Irusta.
Without pulling punches, Mendoza spoke about hot-button issues including multiple world titles, professionals boxing in the Olympics and much more.
On the way the WBA sanctions world titles…
“I can answer you in one sentence. Promoters and boxers need them for better income. Many media question it romantically because they want only one champion. You have to keep up with the times to go on improving and give opportunities to everyone.”
Others also gave their point of view on this topic. One of them, Ricardo Rizzo, spoke about their necessity and even asked for more (jokingly). He stressed that television in the United States asks for titles and these have been good for boxing, for the business and for the sport.
Afterward, Mendoza returned the question and asked Irusta his opinion about what the president himself called “the multi-title.” Irusta commented that it’s difficult to explain it to people, but TV, promoters and boxers ask for titles and that’s why they exist.
On pro boxers competing in the Olympics…
“The participation of professional boxers in the Olympic Games, by our findings, we definitely won’t be able to go against that flow. It comes from an institution (IOC) which I consider to be one of the strongest of the world sport. So, what I mean is that to avoid or prohibit their participation seems to me an impossible task.
“The IOC is going to allow them to participate, as other sports do, but under amateur boxing rules. I think there is a legal issue in prohibiting an athlete from participating in Olympic Games.
“I invite my colleagues, instead of penalizing, to join forces and put our doctors at their service. I’m sure a lot of professionals would be able to participate if some things were changed in the amateur system.”
The topic sparked a great debate among the audience, who offered their views in support and against participation, always with respect and in pursuit of the best solution to an event that seems imminent for Tokyo 2020.
Mendoza stressed that his opinion is not about demonstrating that he is for or against, but about approaching the IOC and participating, either in support or in detriment. He assured that studies are needed to detect the real dangers and to disclose all the details so that the implementation is made the best possible.
On boxing in China…
“Approximately 12 years ago we held our convention in Chengdu. While China is a world economic power, we have noted its interest in education and sport. Five years ago we set up a regional body called WBA China. As we saw this new market, we took part in a development plan. Fuzhou offers the possibilities of creating a world academy, which is the WBA Academy.”
On the outlook for world boxing organizations…
“I think the boxing organizations are living in a tough time. We are in a market where promoters are on top of our brands. We need a renaissance. We need to re-engineer the institutions to keep this activity alive. One way is to involve amateur boxing and another is through education to complement these alternative markets.”