By Zhenyu Li: Boxing in China is ready to roll as the nation inaugurates its first open tournament in boxing - the China Open.
With China’s growing power in economics and pugilism, the nation is to establish its first-ever Chinese-rooted international boxing open tournament. The China Open, to be staged by the International Boxing Association (AIBA) jointly with the Guizhou Municipal Government in Guiyang, Guizhou Province, China, is the biggest China-rooted international boxing tournament ever to be held. It is a 3-Star event approved by the AIBA, which is the same ranking as the World Boxing Championships and Olympic Games’ boxing tournament.
One of the world’s top-ranked boxing tournaments, the nine-day event, featuring over 150 boxers from more than 20 countries, was expected to attract Olympic-champion caliber fighters from all around the globe, including such big names as the Olympic gold medalists Alexey Tishchenko and Rakhim Chakkhiev from Russia, Olympic super heavyweight champion Roberto Cammarelle from Italy, and Olympic silver medalists Andris Laffita Hernandez and Emilio Correa Bayeaux from Cuba etc.
Chinese Olympic gold medalists Zou Shiming and Zhang Xiaoping have confirmed to attend the competition.
Apart from earning prize money and trophies, competitors taking part in the Chinese Open also get the opportunity to earn points under the AIBA World Ranking system.
Aimed at building it as a recognized global brand, the tournament will be held annually in compliance with the AIBA rules and guidelines.
Chinese boxing has come a long way. The nation has produced grand slam champion Zou Shiming, and emerged as the new dominating force in the ring during the 2008 Olympic Games, as it smashed the triopoly of Cuba, Russia and the United States, any of whom had ruled the medal table in boxing at every Olympics since 1942.
Due to the overall improvement of Chinese boxers and increasing popularity of boxing in China, the AIBA has designed to develop more high-caliber international boxing events in China in the near future, including the World Series of Boxing (WSB), which is to be held in Haikou this December. China Open is one of the most important ones.
As the first-ever 3-Star yearly boxing event in Asia, the significance of the Chinese Open is next only to the World Championships, Olympic Games’ boxing matches and World Cup.
The inauguration of the annual China-rooted tournament will open door to an accelerated communication, within boxing, between China and the world, and grant Chinese top fighters opportunities to showcase their talent at home turf.
With its expansion in terms of quality and significance, gradually but surely, the China Open is set to develop a deep culture of boxing in the local region whilst improving the international competitive strength of Chinese boxers.
The landscape of the fight game in China is experiencing noticeable changes as the nation exhibited remarkable growth in economics and the sport of boxing.
In January, a historical move was made by the Tianjin Municipal Government to promote professional boxing within the city. The municipal government signed an official agreement with the World Boxing Organization (WBO) to set up Asia’s first and the world’s third largest boxing center in the city and host WBO championship fights of all levels for 10 years. This act definitely serves as a booster for the development of the sport.
Another big change on China’s boxing scene will be the inauguration of the China Boxing League tournament, which is to kick off for the first time on April 27. Resembling to the China Football Association Super League (CSL) and China Basketball Association (CBA), the boxing league tournament should also be operated mostly under the market regulations. Such a mechanism would bring vigor and vitality into the untapped boxing market in China.
Chinese boxing has come a long way, and it is time to rumble.
Zhenyu Li is the bilingual sports and culture columnist for People’s Daily. His agent can be reached at email@example.com.