One of the most important initiatives launched by AIBA President Ching-Kuo Wu has been the “Road to Dream” project. As part of AIBA’s development work, this program was designed to offer athletes and coaches from countries that would not otherwise be able to attend major AIBA events not only to attend them but also to train for them on-site two weeks in advance.
The project spawned training camps that took their name from the host cities of the championships they were designed for. The first such training camp was the “Road to Milan”, which was held in Assisi, Italy, before the 2009 AIBA World Championships.
The “Road to Milan” saw boxers and coaches from 66 different countries training together for the tournament. Amidst tough competition, several boxers on the training camp made it through to the final 16 of what was their first-ever international competition.
Two notable talents from the Road to Milan program, Benin’s lightweight Shafiq Chitou and super heavyweight Benjey Zimmerman from the Netherlands Antilles, were even picked up by teams to compete in the first season of the World Series of Boxing.
The “Road to Baku” then followed, preparing 44 boxers for the 2010 AIBA Youth World Championships in Baku Azerbaijan. The “Road to Baku” training camp was held in Lenkaran, Azerbaijan, on the shores of the Caspian Sea close to the border with Iran. Once again, boxers who graduated from the camp made it through to the final 16 in the tournament.
Ahead of the 2010 Women’s World Championships, the “Road to Barbados” featured 33 boxers. A total of 18 countries were represented on this training camp, including four boxers from host nation Barbados.
More recently, some 23 boxers and seven coaches trained in Turkey before this year’s first-ever AIBA Women’s Junior & Youth World Boxing Championships in Antalya.
This time, the training camp brought home its first medals, with boxers from Vietnam taking gold and silver. Thi Vy Vuong took the world title at 52kg in the Junior event and her team-mate Thi Phuong Pham took the silver at 48kg. Moldova’s Irina Gilca completed the trio of medals with a bronze at 64kg in the Youth competition.
AIBA President Wu was delighted with this success. “The Road to Antalya training camp has been one of the most successful so far in terms of results achieved in the ensuing championships,” he said.
“Two boxers from Vietnam would not have been able to participate in the tournament without AIBA’s help through the Road to Antalya training camp.
“Yet, after two weeks of intensive training they have excelled in the championships to take one gold medal and miss out on a second by only one point.
“The performance by these boxers shows that the huge investment made by AIBA in covering the costs of their training and participation in world championship events is extremely worthwhile.”
AIBA relies on support from the host cities for tournaments and the respective boxing federations in order to be able to provide such training camps. However, the world governing body finances the transport and accommodation for the participants, which involves a significant investment for each training camp.
“Through the training camps offered by the ‘Road to Dream’ project, we have been able to broaden the participation at all World Championship events and increase the quality of the competition for our fans,” Wu continues.
“I am proud that this initiative has not only allowed boxers from underprivileged countries to participate in such event, but to win medals too,” he concludes.