Smart gloves, mouthguards, digital review--boxing's punch for clean scoring

Published on Nov 09, 2022 10:53 PM IST

The world boxing body is taking steps to address controversies in its scoring system and work towards the sport retaining its place in the Olympics.

From (R) BFI President Ajay Singh, IBA President Umar Kremlev (R) and boxing star Nikhat Zareen at the press conference in New Delhi on Wednesday, November 9, 2022(BFI)
From (R) BFI President Ajay Singh, IBA President Umar Kremlev (R) and boxing star Nikhat Zareen at the press conference in New Delhi on Wednesday, November 9, 2022(BFI)
ByAvishek Roy, New Delhi

Scoring in boxing has been a controversial subject and one of the reasons why the International Olympic Committee has placed the world boxing body (IBA) under suspension since 2019. Boxing’s future as an Olympic sport looks bleak at the moment as IBA looks to implement International Olympic Committee recommendations on governance, financial transparency and integrity of the refereeing and judging.

Referees and judges now go through a vetting process while there is also more use of technology to make scoring transparent. In its latest move, IBA is looking to experiment with smart gloves and mouthguards to measure the impact of punches. The project is still in its initial stages and is expected to be finalised by next year, IBA secretary general George Yerolimpos said.

"A chip inside the gloves will tell us about the impact of punches. This will help us measure the impact of a punch in a scientific way. The mouth guard will also have sensors and will record the information. The focus is not only results but also the safety of athletes. If there is a situation, the doctors can find out whether the boxer can continue or not," he added.

Another technological innovation will be the digital evaluation of bouts and reviews at the 2023 IBA Women's World Championships in India. The tournament is likely to be staged in March.

"India will be the first country where this technology will be used in competition. A comprehensive technology-based review system will be used and decisions will be clear for everyone," Boxing Federation of India president Ajay Singh said.

“Since the IBA administration has taken over , there have been several championships that have been held without any controversy,” he said.

The bout review process was stopped in May as IBA was focussing on core elements of officiating. The team managers can lodge a protest within 15 minutes of a points decision on a bout.

"Earlier a bout review was done overnight after the competition. We want to do it in real time now," said Yerolimpos. "Also, IBA evaluators will see the bout as it happens and tell the judges in case of any error in counting," he said.

An IOC taskforce took over the boxing qualification and competition during the Tokyo Olympics. The IOC has rejected IBA’s qualification pathway for the 2024 Paris Olympics and will oversee qualification. Boxing's inclusion in the 2028 Los Angeles Olympics is in serious doubt.

“I am sure boxing will be included in the 2028 Olympic programme. Let's first see the 2024 Olympics and then we will work towards the next Olympics,” said IBA president Umar Kremlev, who signed the Host City Agreement here with Singh.

“We are following 100 % of the recommendations proposed by the IOC with a new board of directors in place. The organisation is open to implement the reforms and IBA is now a fully transparent and honest organisation and we continue to work towards the implementation of these recommendations.”

The total prize purse for women’s world championships is expected to be $2.4mn ( 19.5 crore) while the gold medallist boxer will get 81 lakh ($100,000).

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