MIAMI, Florida: Famed boxing promoter Don King ripped the International Amateur Boxing Association (AIBA) on Friday for a plan to launch a professional fight league whose boxers could compete in the Olympics.
AIBA Professional Boxing would offer fighters from 19-40 a chance to work their way through national, regional and world levels in 10 weight categories starting later this year.
Olympic boxing was once closed to pro fighters but those who join the new league rather than sign with promoters such as King or rivals Bob Arum and Oscar de la Hoya could compete in the Olympics under the AIBA plan.
The AIBA would require current pro fighters join the AIBA pro league two years ahead of their first Olympic qualifying event and stay with the league at least two years after the Olympics while current amateurs must join within three years of their first Olympic qualifying event.
“I am extremely concerned by the commandeering of those participating in the Olympics by the AIBA,” King said in a statement.
“Their policy demanding that participants sign exclusive professional contracts with AIBA in order to participate in the Olympics is tantamount to monopoly, coercion and restraint of trade.”
King, whose once-mightty stable of top names in boxing has faded in recent years, could lose young prospects to the AIBA. He aims his criticism at the idea of pitting pro fighters against amateurs with the Olympics as a lure.
“I am frightened, shocked and appalled the AIBA and International Olympic Committee could support such a harmful policy,” King said.
“I strongly advise the AIBA and the IOC to dismiss their efforts to emasculate the boxers in their monopolistic practices and circumnavigate the boxing organizations and professional promoters, giving the AIBA and IOC veiled control over the sport of boxing.
“This policy is not only implausible, it is immoral, harmful and highly dangerous.”