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Pros get AIBA nod

LAUSANNE (AFP) – Professional boxers can compete at the upcoming Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, the sport’s governing body ruled in a landmark decision on Wednesday.

Meeting at an extraordinary congress in Lausanne, Switzerland, 88 members of the International Boxing Association (AIBA) voted in favour of the move, while none voted against and four abstained.

The final results of the vote were told to AFP by a senior official within AIBA who requested anonymity as they were not authorised to speak publicly on the subject before the official announcement.

The revolutionary decision is however unlikely to see boxing’s biggest names enter the Olympic ring in Rio.

For most professionals, like former heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko, it is already too late to take part in a qualifying contest. The last tournament is in Venezuela in July.

There is a rich history of fighters making their name at the Olympics before moving on to have groundbreaking professional careers, including Muhammad Ali, who won gold at the Romes Games in 1960, when he was still known by his birth name, Cassius Clay.

But letting those who have already turned professional fight at the Games has faced some resistance, including from former gold medallist and world heavyweight title holder Lennox Lewis, who said it would be ”preposterous” to let professionals into the same ring as amateurs.