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13 NOVEMBER 2018


Should professional boxers be allowed to compete in the Olympics?

This is the first in a series of articles to explore this difficult, but important dilemma. The decision will be made when the A.I.B.A. (International Amateur Boxing Association) meets later this year. Professional boxers competing in the Olympics will change amateur (and professional) boxing forever. Whether you “weigh-in” “for” or “against,” everyone involved in the sport should understand the implications.



By Dr. Charles “Gino” Signorino

Lately, I have heard discussion of the possibility of professional boxers competing for positions on the US Olympic Boxing team. The recommendation was that a professional boxer, with two years or less in the professional ranks, would be allowed to compete for an Olympic slot. The reasoning being, I suppose, is that we are seeing professionals participating in the Olympics in several other sports, e.g. basketball, hockey. So, why not boxing? I think it would be a good idea to review the differences between Olympic-style amateur boxing and the professional sport.


OLYMPIC-STYLE — All amateur boxing is under the jurisdiction of one national governing body. USA Boxing has jurisdiction over the administration, and rules of competition for amateurs in the U.S.

PROFESSIONAL STYLE – Many State Athletic Commissions, Many sanctioning bodies, no single set of rules or standards.


OLYMPIC-STYLE has one set of rules worldwide.

PROFESSIONAL-STYLE – Again, there are many different sets of rules. This includes those of the world organizations (WBA, IBF, WBC etc.) and those set by state commissions.


OLYMPIC- STYLE - The main objective is to score points. The force of the blow does not count nor does the effect on the opponent. A knockout does not count more than a single blow, and does not necessarily make the boxer a winner of the round.

PROFESSIONAL STYLE - Added credit is sometimes given for the force of a blow and it’s effect on the opponent. Therefore, a knockout or knockdown is an objective. The boxer scoring the knockdown rarely loses the round.


OLYMPIC-STYLE – Headgear is mandatory; they have standing eight counts; form fitting mouthpieces. A physician’s decision to stop or continue a match is binding. A physician may stop a match at any time to examine a boxer. The physician may also examine a boxer between rounds. The referee will stop the bout if a boxer is mismatched or outclassed. Fighters will be cautioned for technique, and fundamentals violations. If a bout is stopped because of blows to the head, a specific suspension is given for training and competing.

All amateurs are registered with USA Boxing. Strict criteria are used for stopping a bout. Three counts in one round or four in a match automatically stop a match. Internationally, 10-ounce gloves are used for all weight classes. Gloves are designed to absorb shock. Attire is uniform, with tops. No greasing up or foreign substances allowed.

PROFESSIONALS – Headgear prohibited, standing eight counts not uniformly endorsed. There are inconsistent rules of physician participation. Boxers only warned for a harmful foul, not technique. Referees may be hesitant to stop professional bouts if a mismatch exists, due to promoter contractual issues, TV, and financial factors. Suspensions are not uniform from state to state. Rules to stop a bout for injury are less strict. Depending on the ruling body, a boxer can be saved by the ringing of the bell. The three knockdown rule can be waived. Eight-ounce gloves are used and designed to transmit force. Attire is not uniform and can be detrimental to the safety of the boxer. Rules vary by state on allowed coagulating substances.


Even after only two years of professional training, experience and competition, the professional boxer has defined his goals and skills to a different purpose. Emphasis is on the demonstration of his power and dominance of his opponent. It would be unrealistic in my opinion, for that purpose to be subjugated to scoring points in a very highly regulated environment. The safety of the amateur is the most important concern. I can only see an increase in amateur/professional sparring and competition, and ultimately the possibility of an increase in injuries if this competition is allowed.

Dr. Charles "Gino" Signorino is a licensed and certified ringside physician. He is Vice-Chairman of USA Boxing's Medical Sub-Committee, the lead physician for the National Golden Gloves, a Professional Ringside Physician, and recently received the Outstanding Physician’s Award at the 2002 Everlast USA National Championships.


Dr. Gino Signorino is a resident of Las Vegas, Nevada where he has been a licensed ringside physician since 1994. He has been associated with the amateur boxing program, civilian and military, for over twenty years. He currently works in Orange County, California as Vice-President of Medical Affairs for Molina Healthcare, Inc. and as a licensed ringside physician since 1996. Although he is a Nevada State Athletic Commission official, California Athletic Commission official, and amateur boxing official, all of the views, opinions, and/or recommendations contained herein are solely his own and do not necessarily reflect those of Nevada’s Commission, California’s Commission, or any amateur program. All readers are strongly cautioned that the information contained herein is not intended to, and never should, substitute for the necessity of seeking the advice of a qualified medical, legal, or financial professional whenever a boxer or his/her representatives have specific questions regarding the best course of action that a boxer should take. Furthermore, since it is possible that general information herein may pertain only to a law, regulation, rule or acceptable standard of practice for a particular jurisdiction, a boxer or his/her representatives must always inquire with the appropriate licensing jurisdiction to determine the applicable laws, regulations, rules, and acceptable standards of practice for each jurisdiction.

All readers are advised that the information herein is intended solely as a general reference source, and to the fullest extent permitted by law, the information is provided “AS IS” without any warranties of any kind, whether express or implied, including without limitation, warranties of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose and non-infringement. No one may rely on the accuracy, integrity, quality or completeness of the general information herein. Accordingly, neither the authors, editors nor anyone else affiliated with this website may be held liable for damages of any kind whatsoever allegedly caused or resulting from any such claimed reliance.

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