Before she became one of the faces of women’s professional boxing, Katie Taylor had Olympic aspirations.
At the 2012 London Olympics, the Irish athlete earned a gold medal, putting her on the fast track to a very lucrative professional career.
She is concerned that due to a protracted disagreement between Olympic officials and the International Boxing Association, future generations won’t have the same opportunity. The inclusion of boxing in the 2028 Los Angeles Olympic Games has not been confirmed by the International Olympic Committee.
“It will be a huge blow to boxing overall, even professional boxing,” Taylor told The Associated Press ahead of her fight against Chantelle Cameron in Dublin on Saturday. “The biggest incentive for amateur boxers is the Olympics. If they (don’t) have that, I think it might put a lot of people off the sport. It could be a big blow for the sport as a whole really.”
Given that women’s boxing only made its Olympic debut in 2012, the effects could be particularly detrimental to the sport.
Taylor and Claressa Shields utilized their Olympic triumph as a launching pad into the professional ranks, headlining shows, selling out large stadiums, and gaining additional media coverage to help propel the women’s game into the mainstream.
“I hope they can sort out their issues because the Olympics is a huge part of boxing,” said Taylor, the undefeated and undisputed lightweight champion who will challenge for Cameron’s super-lightweight belts on Saturday.
The IOC intends to conduct the qualifying and final competitions similarly to how its boxing task group handled the Tokyo Games in 2021; the 2024 Paris Olympics are a given.
Because of issues with governance and impartial judging, the IOC severed ties with the sport’s regulatory organization in 2019. It is also skeptical of the IBA’s associations with Russia.
According to an inquiry, some matches at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro were manipulated by “complicit and compliant” referees and judges. Ireland’s Michael Conlan, who lost to Vladimir Nikitin in the bantamweight quarterfinals in Rio, accused Russia and the sports regulating body of corruption.
Boxing officials in the United States and Great Britain recently declared plans to create a new federation to compete with the IBA, formerly known as AIBA, in order to maintain the sport’s status as an Olympic sport.
Since 1904, boxing has been a part of all but one Olympic program, and the IOC has stated that it may yet be added for 2028. One of the key locations for boxing at the Paris Games the following year is Roland Garros, the French Open’s home court.
Ireland’s most successful Olympic sport is boxing. Boxing has won 18 of the nation’s 35 medals.
When Kellie Anne Harrington won gold in the lightweight division in Tokyo, she joined Taylor as the only female Irish boxer to have ever won an Olympic medal in the sport.
“Ever since I was a kid, my dream was to win an Olympic gold medal. That’s all I dreamt of,” the 36-year-old Taylor said. “It’s quite sad that if it does go out … kids are going to grow up without that dream.”