To many people, wheelchair boxing does not seem like it would be the best sport to adapt for someone with a disability. Up until now, not many athletes have tried it.
But a group named The Adaptive Boxing Organization (ABO) wants to help wheelchair boxing gain popularity. Their goal is to bring wheelchair boxing all the way to the Paralympics. Founder Colin Wood said, “For us, it’s mainly about helping disabled people to compete at the highest level and that ultimately means the Paralympics.”
Wheelchair Boxing: Rules
Fighters are first classified by disability. Then they chose their preferred weight class out of six divisions. The rules are similar to Olympic-style amateur boxing rules, although some groups have variations to their rules. At the moment, fighting groups often work as individual entities in different cities and countries. They connect with each other through social media and events but don’t have official national or international associations.
The ABO is working to become an umbrella organization for all the different local fighting groups. Their goal is to keep everyone consistent with the rules and regulations so that there can be a clear path to becoming a Paralympic Sport.
Wood commented on the rules and safety by saying, “There are differences in terms of the training ethics. There are also quite a few other things that we’ve adapted and made sure we’ve got one hundred percent right for safety purposes.”
The Adaptive Boxing Organization (ABO)
The ABO’s mission is “to act as an umbrella organisation for the promotion of Adaptive sports be the mentor for variety of combative and martial arts disciplines aiming to promote the sport of Boxing and Martial Arts throughout the United Kingdom, Europe and to a wider global audience, and to also encourage the widest possible participation in Adaptive sports to assist, as much as possible, all clubs, societies, schools, colleges, Adaptive sporting individuals in their quest for success and participation(Inclusion).”
Besides giving background information on the organization and its goals, the website is also the place to go for those who are looking to join or watch adaptive boxing or martial arts sports. There is a Gym Finder that can show you where your local boxing groups are meeting. The Events page shows the times and locations of different matches. And the Information page provides links to Rules and Regulations as well as a Medical Examination form that will determine if participating is safe for you.
The ABO also has a Facebook Page. The page provides a summary of information as well as posts on relevant topics and events. Joining the Facebook group might be a good way to get your questions answered, connect with other wheelchair boxers, and start to feel like part of the community.
The Paralympics have strict standards for safety and regulation. Not only that, according to Craig Spence, director of the IPC, “They need to send us a clear plan of how they are going to take the sport forward, and the sport must be widely and regularly practised in at least 32 countries on four continents before it can be considered for the Paralympic programme.”
Wood knows creating that much awareness and participation is a big ambition. He believes that it will be 2024 at the earliest before Wheelchair Boxing is eligible for The Olympics. Currently, they have about 18 countries involved, including Greece, Brazil, America, and Canada. The group has also received support from England Boxing, which helped them gain awareness by inviting them to fight at the televised National Finals in Liverpool.
For now, Wood seems hopeful that the ABO will meet their goals. He has already generated a much larger audience for the sport than it had even three years ago. Wood said, “When we get to Paralympic level, we should have everything in place to showcase to the world what we can do.”
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