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After a resoundingly successful 2015 for boxing, in which the 2015 AIBA World Championships in Doha were as ambitious as they were spectacular, another epic season of World Series of Boxing action unfolded and the first AIBA Pro Boxing champions were crowned, AIBA is preparing to unveil innovations and initiatives to help grow the sport even further in 2016.

AIBA celebrates its 70th anniversary in 2016 and will reach the symbolic milestone of 200 National Federation members, underlining boxing’s position among the world’s farthest-reaching, most popular sports and a central pillar of the Olympic Games themselves in this Olympic year.

Rio 2016 – the calendar’s grandstand event

Rio 2016 will serve to further enhance both the men’s and women’s boxing prestige, and with 60 boxers out of 286 already qualified, the remaining quota places available at continental championships and International tournaments taking place throughout the first half of the year mean they assume an added importance.

“Olympic qualification opportunities are sure to bring out the very best in our boxers in the first half of this year”, said AIBA President CK Wu. “This is the world’s biggest sporting stage and the competition for places at Rio 2016 will make for an unmissable series of major tournaments, as well as the Women’s World Championships.”

Astana 2016 – To showcase the best women boxers

In 2016 we will also be looking forward to the ninth edition of AIBA Women’s World Boxing Championships, which will light up Astana, Kazakhstan on 19-27 May and will provide an opportunity to twelve medalists from the three Olympic weight classes – flyweight, lightweight and middleweight –to book their flights to Brazil for August’s grandstand competition. Thus, Rio will further enhance the reputation and standing of women in our sport as the Olympic Games represent a fantastic stage to foster gender equality in the world of sport.

Putting boxer’s first with HeadsUp!

AIBA’s ongoing commitment to putting its boxers first was cemented in 2015 with the launch of a new HeadsUp! campaign to nurture and extend athletes’ careers all the way from grassroots to life outside the ring. The official launch of the far-reaching HeadsUp! campaign in Doha, anchored in the re-education of boxers, coaches and officials to teach the correct way of boxing and make the athletes adopt a better stance, was followed by an important new scholarship program for young boxers in one of Rio de Janeiro’s poorest neighbourhoods. It is a policy that National Federations will be encouraged to follow as AIBA highlights the importance of investing in the sport at every level, with further initiatives to be rolled out throughout 2016.

“We always want to move forward, evolve and look to broaden the appeal of our great sport”, said the AIBA president, but we will never lose sight of our guiding principles, at the centre of which is the health and wellbeing of our boxers.”

WSB Season VI

AIBA’s unique World Series of Boxing team competition will begin its sixth season on 15 January 2016. Defending champions Astana Arlans Kazakhstan start their campaign against Azerbaijan Baku Fires, and the arrival of two new franchises, Uzbekistan Tigers and Turkey Conquerors, has expanded the preliminary-stage format from two to four groups. Following a busy Draft Pick in December that saw several teams snap up squad members from the considerable pool of extra international talent available, Season VI once again has the potential to provide real fireworks for boxing fans the world over.

New Horizons for AIBA Pro Boxing (APB)

When APB boxers David Graf and Anton Pinchuk went toe-to-toe in Dusseldorf on the undercard of one of the biggest boxing event of last year, Klitschko vs. Fury, it heralded the arrival of AIBA’s Pro Boxing competition onto the world circuit as featured in the Saturday night of boxing in Kyiv on December 12 where two key AIBA Pro Boxing contests starring local talent, the experienced Middleweight Dmytro Mytrofanov facing Ecuador’s Marlo Delgado and Light Welterweight Vyacheslav Kyslytsyn against Qatar’s Thulasi Tharumalingam in the sold out Palace of Sports.

Last year APB’s first cycle crowned 10 World Champions from 7 different countries illustrating the remarkable success of the newborn competition and the pro-style boxing opportunities offered to AIBA Elite boxers.

“For seventy years, AIBA has striven to provide the best possible platform for its boxers to thrive upon”, said President Wu. “More recently, we have nurtured a culture of excellence and professionalism that can be felt at every level of the sport, and one that will be showcased perfectly for the world’s boxing fans in this Olympic year.”