The 2016 Olympics was supposed to be about wholesale changes in the boxing ring. The helmets were gone, a 10-point must system was in place and professionals were allowed to compete. It was supposed to be AIBA's opportunity to show the world what they could do, and to show that the “Olympic boxers” were no long “just” amateurs but were top quality fighters involved in a high quality set up with top notch judges and referees.
Sadly however the corruption or ineptitude within the sport hasn't changed, and it probably never will. Worryingly however a safety net that AIBA did have in 2012 appears to have been taken away, and has left some serious blotches on the sport and AIBA's reputation, which again lies in tatters, despite some positive changes. Changes that have been over-shadowed by the poor officiating.
To begin the tournament it seemed the judges were spot on and over the first 4 or 5 days there were very few questionable decisions. Slowly however they have began to appear with worrying regularity.
One of the first stinkers saw Romanian Super Heavyweight Mihai Nistor beat up, and I really mean beat up, Hussein Eshaish Iashaish only to some how lose a split decision. The result seemed like one that would have been over-turned on a review, they had clearly got the wrong winner. Unfortunately it was then revealed that the review procedure, which had been in place in 2012, had been removed from the Olympic system.
The review system was rarely really used, with only 2 decisions being reversed at London 2012, but it was a fail safe. It allowed AIBA to go “okay, our judges got it wrong, let us correct that”. With Nistor unable to appeal the decision however he was out, and fans began to smell something a bit fishy.
The following day Chatchai Butdee, a Thai fighter, seemingly dominated Vladimir Nikitin. Again however the rightful winner was beaten, by split decision. It was a fight that seemed to be a clear win for the Thai but some how the judges thought otherwise, giving the highly regarded, though thoroughly under-whelming, Russian the decision.
On the same day Mongolian Dorjnyambuu Otgondalai seemed to be given the wrong end of a decision over Frenchman Sofiane Oumiha, losing out on a place in the final as a result. Oumiha had been a feel good story, beating Amnat Ruenroeng and Albert Selimov, but he had been beaten every which way by Otgondalai.
The shamefulness however reached new heights on Monday when Kazakhstan star, and one of the most outstanding fighters at the Olympics, Vasiliy Levit was robbed of a gold medal in a bout that most saw as a clear 3 round shut out. The shaven headed Kazakh bullied, bruised and beat up Russian Evgeniy Tishchenko for every minute of every round of the fight, yet remarkably only got the first round, on all 3 cards. He failed to pick up either of the final two rounds, on any of the scorecards, despite really giving the Russian a hiding in the second round.
With the decision in his favour Tishchenko won the gold though appeared to look embarrassed and ashamed whilst collecting his medals to a chorus of frustrating from the crowd. Levit, who applauded the crowd, appeared to be disgusted at the silver medal and refused to pose with it for pictures.
Looking back however no one should have been shocked by Tishchenko's win with Russian having previously claimed a rather fortunate win over Clemente Russo in the quarter final. It wasn't a total stinker against Russo, but it was certainly a questionable result in favour of the Russian who really was gifted the gold medal.
Hopefully the disgraceful decision will see Levit throw away his vest and immediately turn professional where he will be viewed as another brilliant addition to the already tremendous Cruiserweight division. After being treat like that by the judges there is no reason for him to even consider staying as an AIBA boxer. He was the best man at 91KG's from start to end and to see him take home a silver as a result of the officials is nothing short of disgusting.
What was supposed to be a new era of Olympic boxing has seemingly seen new changes to the aesthetics but the same sickening feeling of something dirty happening behind the scenes and bouts being won, or lost, before a punch has even been thrown.