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9-min read

Pro boxing no walk in the park; will Vijender Singh's gamble pay off?

Pro boxing was never so famous or talked about in India until Olympic medal winner Vijender Singh announced that he is ready to take the plunge leaving his amateur career.

Abhishek Nandwani | News18Sportshttp://abhinandwani

Updated:July 28, 2015, 12:31 PM IST
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Pro boxing no walk in the park; will Vijender Singh's gamble pay off?
Pro boxing was never so famous or talked about in India until Olympic medal winner Vijender Singh announced that he is ready to take the plunge leaving his amateur career.
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"Boxing is the ultimate challenge. There's nothing that can compare to testing yourself the way you do every time you step in the ring," boxing legend Sugar Ray Leonard once famously said.

Pro boxing is one sport in which you have to be disciplined and focussed while in the ring. It's a sport that is a combination of money and fame but you can't rule out a violent turn. Pro boxers are passionate about their profession but are mostly seen as spoil brats with bad boy attitude, but exceptions are always there.

Pro boxing was never so famous or talked about in India until Olympic medal winner Vijender Singh announced that he is ready to take the plunge leaving his amateur career. India has a history of producing amateur boxers and this is one sport that is now seen as a major source of medals for India in Commonwealth Games, Asian Games and Olympics.

Last month, Vijender announced that he was turning a professional and signed what was called a 'landmark, four-year deal' with a British promoter, thus excluding himself from representing India at the Olympics at Rio 2016.

But Vijender is not the first Indian boxer to turn professional - the likes of Raj Kumar Sangwan, V Dev Rajan, Dharmender Yadav and Gurcharan Singh have tried their hand in pro-boxing but did not get the fame and identity they would have hoped for. But when Vijender made his decision, it surely surprised many because unlike before, Indians are following the sport in a bigger and better way.

But when it comes to professional boxing, fans in India have a limited understanding.

When asked about his views from boxer Akhil Kumar, he was of the view that it's up to the individual to decide what he wants to do with his career but a boxer faces less pressure in pro boxing than at the time when he is representing his country.

"There is lesser pressure on pro boxers because they know against whom they are going to box and there are not continuous bouts like Olympic style boxing. In the event of an injury, there is no pressure of a bout the very next day. Pro boxers know their opponent at least 2-3 months in advance and Olympic style boxers get to know their opponent's name on the day of competition. There are many such surprises at Olympics.

"When Raj Kumar Sangwan, V Dev Rajan, Dharmender Yadav and Gurcharan Singh tried pro boxing, it was not the similar situation as today, so it is our mind and heart, which makes us decide. If I want to turn pro,I will find ways and if I don't, then who cares", Akhil told IBNLive.

Fame and Money

Earning repute in boxing is not that easy - everyone doesn't reach the expected level and one has to work quite hard for it. On the other hand. earning big money is not as easy as it seems. It all depends on the skills and most importantly how famous you are among fans and sponsors. It’s not easy to get the facts about the amount of money a professional boxer earns as it depends a lot on PR, popularity and most importantly the sponsorship.

When you compare it to amateur boxing, money surely is not comparable and most importantly in India, where any sport apart from cricket does not get recognisation easily, surely earning money through boxing for a living is not that easy.

When asked about the money, what facilities and luxuries pro boxing brings to you, Akhil said, "As the name depicts, it is professional, which means money. And money attracts money. There are promoters who sign contracts with boxers ensuring them handsome amounts along with name, fame, glamour, publicity, insurance and warranty money."

However, Akhil said AIBA is doing more than enough for boxers to make their name in this field.

"AIBA has launched WSB and APB to do so and are getting results as well. And there is a chance to qualify for the Olympics from these formats as well. There we get a taste of the professional set-up and it opens doors to represent your nation.

"The association is doing more than enough to groom young boxers. They are providing competitions, training cum competitions and training camps to developing and under-developed countries," Akhil added.

How is Professional boxing different from amateur boxing?

The main differences are in the rules as well as in the objectives of the AIBA Open Boxing (AOB) and Professional Boxing, with different safety standards and records. Because of this distinction, unlike in other sports, athletes as well as referees and judges of professional boxing are not permitted to participate in AOB and Olympic boxing events.

It is recognised that while the rules for AOB are the same all over the world, rules for professional boxing can vary significantly, and in a few countries or states may have now equaled or even exceeded safety standards of AOB in some instances.

Following are the main differences between AOB and pro boxing:

AspectAmateurProfessionalSafety
1RulesAre geared to protect the health and safety of the athlete. Uniform in all 204 AIBA affiliated countries.Rules vary from country to country, sometimes even within one country.Uniform rules mean uniform safety standards.
2RoundsJunior Male & Female: 3 – 2 minute Rounds,From 4 rounds of 3 minutes up to 12 rounds of 3 minutes each. Two- minute rounds for females.Longer bouts are said to increase the risk of injury. For that reason, professional boxing no longer has 15 round fights.
Youth & Elite Male: 3 – 3 minute Rounds,
Youth & Elite Female: 4 – 2 minute Rounds
3Gloves10 oz. for competitions specially designed to cushion the impact. White area denotes striking surface. Must have AIBA approved label. In elite men from welter weight onwards 12 Oz gloves are being used6, 8, and 10 oz. gloves, depending on jurisdiction.Not only the weight, but also the design and material of gloves are factors.
4HeadguardsCompulsory for all competitions since 1971 in Canada, since 1984 world-wide. Now, from 2013 onwards elite men Headguards is not there.Prohibited.Headguards reduce cuts by 90 %, ear lobe injury by 100 %.
5Singlets (Tops)Mandatory for males and females.Prohibited for males.Tops prevent rope burns, keep gloves cleaner.
6Standing Eight-CountGiven to a boxer in difficulty. After 3 eight-counts in a round or 4 in total, the bout is stopped and for elite men 3 eight-counts in a round and no limit for whole boutUsually does not exist.Purpose is to protect the boxer before getting hurt.
7Duties of RefereeFirst priority is to protect the boxers, and to enforce the rules in the ring. The referee does not keep score.To enforce the prevailing rules. In some jurisdictions, the referee keeps score. In recent years, actions of referees to stop the fight when a boxer is injured or helpless have been exemplary.The role and actions of the referee are important in preventing serious injuries.
8InjuriesThe bout is stopped when there is much bleeding, or cuts, swelling around the eye.The bout is not stopped unless the injured boxer is unable to continue (TKO).Blood and swelling around the eyes impair vision and make it hard to defend against blows.
9TKO – OutclassedIf a boxer is overmatched, and has difficulty defending against a far superior opponent, the referee stops the contest.No such rule.Mismatches can be a cause of injuries, and while rare, can happen in both sports, in spite of rules and all efforts to prevent or end them.
10FoulsThere are 21 fouls (forbidden, unfair or dangerous tactics) which lead to warnings and point penalties if committed. Disqualification after 3 warnings.Some tactics considered fouls in AIBA Open boxing are permitted in professional boxing.Clean boxing without fouls makes the sport safer.
11ObjectivesTo win on points by landing more correct scoring blows on the opponent’s target area. Knock-downs do not result in extra points. Knock-outs are accidental, and not an objective.For point decisions, agressiveness, knock-downs, injuring (“marking”) the opponent, can also count. KO’s are an objective, as a high knock-out record can lead to higher earnings.Acute knock-outs are concussions. Less than 1 % of AIBA Open Boxing bouts end in knock-outs. Over 25 % of pro fights end in KO’s, over 50 % in KO’s or TKO’s.
12TermsCoachTrainer
BoxerFighter
BoutFight

AIBA rules regarding participation in professional boxing:

2.2.2. Eligibility on Sport related Issues

2.2.2.1. Participation in Professional Boxing or Individual Physical Contact Sport

2.2.2.1.1. Any Boxer who enters into a contract, memorandum of understanding, pre-agreement or any other form of agreement, with an entity or individual other than AIBA (or any entity that is an affiliate or subsidiary of AIBA), related to such Boxer's future participation in professional boxing or any other professional Individual Physical Contact Sport than boxing, will not be eligible to participate in any AIBA Competition at any level including, for the avoidance of doubt, the Olympic Games.

I2.2.2.1.2. If a Boxer who has previously competed in AOB, APB or WSB competes in any Bout or Event organized or promoted by any non-AIBA professional boxing organization, then such Boxer will not be eligible to compete in any AIBA Competition at any level ever again.

2.2.2.1.3. Any Boxer who has competed professionally in any Individual Physical Contact Sport will not be eligible to compete in any AIBA Competition at any level.

2.2.2.1.4. A Boxer who has competed at an amateur level in any Individual Physical Contact Sport is eligible to compete in an AIBA Competition, at any level, under the following conditions:

2.2.2.1.5. When a National Federation wishes to register an amateur athlete from any Individual Physical Contact Sport as a Boxer, this National Federation shall complete the Application Form in Appendix B and submit the same to AIBA for acceptance and registration. The registration will be approved by AIBA in consultation with the AIBA Technical & Rules Commission. The National Federation may specify a longer period depending on the history of the athlete and circumstances of registration. If there is any issue in this regard, the case will be reviewed by the AIBA Technical & Rules Commission for a final decision.

2.2.2.1.6. If the amateur athlete applying for registration has competed in another Individual Physical Contact Sport for:

2.2.2.1.6.1. less than a cumulative period of three (3) years, then this amateur athlete shall not be allowed to participate in any AIBA Sanctioned National Level Competition, including National Championships, until at least one (1) year after the date of the acceptance of the athlete's registration

2.2.2.1.6.2. more than a cumulative period of three (3) years, then this amateur athlete shall not be allowed to participate in any AIBA Sanctioned National Level Competition, including National Championships, until at least two (2) years after the date of the acceptance of the athlete's registration.

2.2.2.1.7. In addition, the Boxer may not participate in any other Individual Physical Contact Sport during this time.

2.2.2.1.8. The Boxer must have competed in at least one (1) National Championships organized by the National Federation the Boxer is representing before being eligible to participate in any AIBA Competition.

(Rules provided by Akhil Kumar)

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