The most controversial sport
Judging from the 2012 Olympics, boxing is now the most controversial sport beating taekwondo for the unwanted honours.
- Published: 13/08/2012 at 12:00 AM
- Newspaper section: topstories
"You've Really Got a Hold on Me" - Great song, illegal boxing. (Reuters photo)
While the taekwondo tournament was smooth with few complaints, the boxing competition was hit by a large number of protests leading to several overturned decisions.
On Saturday, Thai boxer Kaew Pongprayoon lost 13-10 to China's defending champion Zou Shiming.
The crowd at London's ExCel Arena jeered the result while Kaew wept in the ring.
"I feel that I won and I could see that the crowd thought I won. I don't know why I lost," the 32-year-old said.
"I think the scoring system at the Olympics is wrong or strange - not just my fight but others didn't go the way they should have."
Virtually the whole Thailand cried foul, saying "Kaew was robbed."
Over three rounds, Kaew might have done a bit better than the Chinese but the contest was close and could have gone either way.
Kaew's 13-12 win over Russian David Ayrapetyan in the semi-finals was also a close call and could have gone either way.
There have been several other bouts which were more controversial than Kaew's final against Zou.
American Roy Jones Jr completely outboxed South Korea's Park Si-Hun in the final at the 1988 Seoul Olympics. But Jones lost 3-2 with three judges scoring in favour of the Korean.
The wayward decision almost led to boxing being axed from the Olympics. It forced the International [Amateur] Boxing Association (Aiba) to introduce a computerised scoring system.
At the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, the US cried foul at Floyd Mayweather Jr's 10-9 defeat against Serafim Todorov of Bulgaria in the semi-finals. The US team protested but the result stood.
Jones went on to win several world professional boxing titles while Mayweather is regarded as the current best pound-for-pound fighter.
Facing Todorov in the final instead of Mayweather, Somluck had an easier task and became Thailand's first-ever Olympic champion.
Gen Taweep Jantararoj, president of the now-defunct Amateur Boxing Association of Thailand (Abat), may know better than anyone about biased decisions.
Taweep, then Thailand's amateur boxing chief, criticised the officiating at the 2008 Beijing Games. He later was punished by Aiba which outlawed Abat last year.
"To become successful, you not only need your boxers' skills but also good relations with the authorities," Taweep said before the London Games.
Abat was replaced by the Thailand Boxing Assocation (TBA) last year with Gen Boonlert Kaewprasit being elected unopposed as its first president.
Boonlert was new to the Olympics. However, he met Aiba president Wu Ching-kuo in Bangkok during an Aiba meeting ahead of the 2012 Games.
He might have thought that he had done enough for his boxers to win a gold medal that he promised to step down as TBA chief if his men failed to achieve the feat in London. He was wrong and refused to talk to Wu after Kaew's loss.
Gen Boonlert may now know how to win an Olympic boxing gold medal. Unfortunately, he may not have another chance to do it as he is quitting as TBA president.
Wu said during the London Games that his association expects to replace the sport's computerised scoring system with the traditional professional judging system before the 2016 Olympics.
He said he wants Olympic boxing to look more like the pro game. Aiba intends to move to the pros' 10-point scoring system, which takes into account every aspect of fighters' skills.
But whichever scoring system is used, boxing will often be controversial as long as other factors are not less important than boxers' skills.
About the author
- Writer: Wanchai Rujawongsanti
- Position: Sports Editor