Lack Of Talent, Interest And Growing Popularity Of MMA Threaten Korean Boxing
Reports about the death of boxing "have not been greatly exaggerated," according to Jung Min-ho of the KOREA TIMES. Just a few years ago Koreans hailed boxing champions "as bona fide national heroes." Now even "the best boxers fight to the background of the sound of crickets." The talent pipeline "appears to have dried up." The country's last Olympic boxing Gold Medal "came in the 1988 Seoul Games." It does not help that the sport continues to lose young athletes to mixed martial arts, "which seems to be everything boxing is not:" organized, business and media savvy and popular. Int'l Amateur Boxing Association (AIBA) President Wu Ching-Kuo claimed that "boxing is undergoing dramatic and important changes to remake itself into a 21st century sport." But he also admitted that "progress in Korea has been slower than in other countries." Wu said, "If you judge boxing's popularity through the U.S. or Korea only, you miss the opportunity to recognize the whole world's development. Boxing has started to change." The scandal-plagued Korea Boxing Association "is still in a bind without leadership." The Korean Amateur Boxing Federation "had also run without sound leadership for years and was deprived of membership by the AIBA last year." Wu: "Boxing needs to be very clean, honest and transparent. You need a good leader to lead. If the leadership is bad, how can you develop? Now I'm happy that Korea got a new president." MMA "is proving a considerable threat to boxing" (KOREA TIMES, 5/15).