|Dr Ching-Kuo Wu-President, AIBA|
|Profile of the week|
Monday, 23 April 2012 19:33
How important are the Olympic Games to the growth of the sport, both in sporting terms and business terms – the exposure?
Because the AIBA is part of the Olympic family, it means the guarantee of the support from financial government and the National Olympic Committee. More importantly, we will have support from the public and our exposure of the sport is significantly heightened towards this audience. All of the sports in the Olympic programme receive television rights sales and revenues from the IOC every four years, which has been a great help in terms of finance.
In addition, the Olympic family also aids greater success in sponsorship, television revenue, and our various marketing programmes. Without Olympic events, trying to build marketing and sponsorship projects would prove to be very difficult so you simply cannot underestimate the benefits this type of event can give to your sport.
In sporting terms, the Olympics are huge to any athlete competing for gold. To be an Olympian for your country is every competitors dream, and something they never forget. The opportunity to prove yourself on a world event is one most athletes relish, so I’m sure they will be very excited for the opening ceremony this summer. It’s not only a special time for the participants, but also the fans, who always create an atmosphere that cannot be matched.
Do you think the Boxing event will be more successful than previous Olympics like Beijing in 2008 for example?
No doubt about it, the boxing event in Beijing was a success. With the Games coming to London this summer, it’s going to be very different. The test event at the Excel arena last November went according to plan and we are very happy with the outcome. I think the introduction of the women’s boxing event will help make London 2012 even more special than previous Olympics as it represents progression in our sport, which will intrigue our supporters. I am happy to report that we have completely sold out tickets for the women’s event, which represents a huge coup for our organisation. Furthermore, the majority of the tickets for the men’s boxing event are also sold out so I have full confidence in London becoming one of the best Olympic Games of the past decade.
As you mentioned, a women’s boxing event will be held at London for the first time this summer, what business/sporting impact do you think it will have? What kind of reception are you expecting from fans?
Since women’s boxing officially entered the Olympic programme, I think the number of females participating in boxing has increased dramatically. So far, we have received tremendous media/press exposure regarding this event, as everyone is so keen to witness a historic moment in our sport. Of course we welcome the public attention as it not only increases the audience of the sport through TV coverage, but also sets a precedent for future female boxing events.
Once the Games have concluded this summer, we are certainly expecting a huge increase in female boxing participants. I’m convinced that the women’s boxing event will reach the top populous women’s sport at the Olympics in the near future once it has established itself in the programme. Watch this space!
How has the increased use of social networking in the last 10 years promoted Boxing events? Do you think it is a good advertising tool to attract new fans and participants?
The AIBA and WSB are very keen on social media. For example, the WSB started the season with 6,500 fans on Facebook and now have 10,000, even before the end of the season. I think the platform provides an invaluable chance for us to connect to our fans on a more personal level, and answer some of their questions regarding the organisation and the events we run. After I took over in 2006, one of our priorities was to set up our new website and integrate ourselves into the growing social media trend. Our fans can now watch footage of our events on our website, whilst our Facebook/Twitter pages allows us to interact and network with a huge number of people who are keen followers of our sport. Overall, I think it’s a superb advertising tool to attract not only existing boxing fans, but also new fans, who are keen to learn more about our events.
What are your views on London’s ExCel venue? Will it provide a platform to make the Boxing event successful?
As I previously mentioned, the test event went very well at London in November so I’m very confident in our event becoming a huge success. During the test event, we reported a great deal of crowd cheering and the overall response was excellent. I believe the venue will allow the atmosphere too reach news levels, whilst it gives us the opportunity to build relationships with the many other sporting federations using the ExCel this summer. Let’s just say I am thoroughly looking forward to taking my seat in the venue on the 28th July!
Muhammed Ali, George Foreman & Oscar De La Hoya have all collected gold medals at the Olympics. Do you think the Olympics are a good platform for future stars to market themselves commercially and become global stars in the sport?
Olympic boxing is the very first step for any boxers looking to gain experience in the sport. The names you have mentioned were all examples of this. If a boxer achieves good results in the Olympics, it is very common that they will go onto achieve a long and successful career in the professional boxing world. However, I always thought it is a big risk for a young boxing talent to turn professional without suitable boxing promoters. This is why we decided to create the APB, which we wanted to govern the sport of boxing and oversee the development of boxers from grassroots level to professional. With this backing from the APB, talented young boxers can expect to be looked after throughout their whole career, and transformed into future stars of the sport.
What youth development programmes are in place for the AIBA to discover a new generation of Boxing Athletes? How would keen, young athletes start their dream in featuring at an Olympic Games?
We have a future development of grassroots programme in place called the AIBA boxing academy, which opens next year in Almaty, Kazakhstan. These programmes have been put in place for athletes to train before World Championships and Olympic events, where we monitor their development and offer the best resources that they require. We pay for everything; this includes the travelling, equipment, training facilities so young boxers don’t have to worry about finances. Everything is covered.
What is the short and long term plans of the AIBA? What does the future hold for Boxing?
In the short term, the AIBA is very much looking forward to the WSB team finals on the 2nd May, and the individual championships on the 9th June at the ExCel center. Not long after that, we are obviously counting down the days until the Olympic Games. At the same time, the entre APB revolution is underway and we will spend a lot of effort to make this concept becoming a reality. Soon, the boxing world and media will know about this as the launch date is fixed, and the boxers will all sign the contract before the London Games.
Our more long-term plans include recruiting new judges and ringside doctors in time for the new season in September 2013, because they are badly needed in boxing at this moment in time. The AIBA has highlighted this as a high priority case and it needs to be sorted sooner rather than later, even though we have more then a year to improve the numbers.