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Manyuchi rules out Rio Olympics

ZIMBABWE’S boxing superstar Charles Manyuchi has ruled out the possibility of competing in the Olympic Games, despite the world governing body for boxing last week voting to let professionals fight for medals in Rio de Janeiro later this year.

BY DANIEL NHAKANISO

The International Boxing Association (Aiba) announced on Wednesday that professional boxers would be allowed to compete at the Rio Games which start on August 5.

Eighty-four of the 88 delegates present at the Aiba extraordinary congress held in Lausanne, Switzerland voted in support of the motion.

But Manyuchi, who engraved his name in local boxing annals after winning the World Boxing Council (WBC) welterweight silver title last month, said he was not interested in competing in Rio and instead was focusing on successfully defending his title.

“As much as I’m always proud to represent my country Zimbabwe, I won’t be taking up the option of competing at the Olympics.

Like most of the other professional boxers around the world, I don’t agree with Aiba’s decision as amateur and professional boxing are two completely different sports,” Manyuchi told Standardsport in an interview yesterday.

“If I decide to compete at the Olympics, I risk being stripped of my title, clearly more prestigious than an Olympic medal,” said Manyuchi.

The 26-year-old star joins the growing list of high-profile fighters who have criticised the decision to allow professionals to box at the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.

Legendary former world heavyweight champion Mike Tyson, who as an amateur won gold at the 1981 and 1982 Junior Olympic Games, has branded the move “ridiculous”.

“It’s ridiculous, it’s foolish, and some of the pro fighters are going to get beat by the amateurs. It’s just going to happen, I really believe that,” the 49-year-old told Reuters last week.

He said the three rounds in the Olympics would work in favour of the amateurs, with professionals used to fighting as many as 12 rounds.

WBC also sharply criticised Aiba’s decision to allow professionals to fight against amateurs, with its president Mauricio Sulaiman confirming last week that any boxer who participated in the Rio Games would be banned for two years.

“The WBC reiterates its total opposition to allowing professionals to fight amateurs in Rio 2016. This is a scenario where mismatches could end in tragedies. All our champions and top 15 ranked boxers are forbidden to participate. If they do so, they will be banned for two years.”

British boxer Amir Khan, who previously held the belt which Manyuchi currently holds, could face a ban from boxing after announcing plans to represent Pakistan at the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.

A total of 26 places in the Rio Olympic Games tournament will be made available at a qualifying event due to take place from July 3 to 8 in Vargas, Venezuela.

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