Saturday 1 October 2016

David Haye: 30-year-old pros fighting 17-year-old amateurs at the Olympics is completely 'insane'

Simon Peach

Published 23/03/2016 | 16:28

LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 16: David Haye of England celebrates after beating Mark De Mori of Australia during their International heavyweight contest at The O2 Arena on January 16, 2016 in London, England. (Photo by Charlie Crowhurst/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 16: David Haye of England celebrates after beating Mark De Mori of Australia during their International heavyweight contest at The O2 Arena on January 16, 2016 in London, England. (Photo by Charlie Crowhurst/Getty Images)

David Haye has hit out at "insane" plans to allow professional boxers to compete at the Olympics, warning it would put fighters' health and safety at serious risk.

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David Haye has hit out at "insane" plans to allow professional boxers to compete at the Olympics, warning it would put fighters' health and safety at serious risk.

Last month AIBA president Ching-Kuo Wu told Press Association Sport that the sport's world governing body intends to open up its Rio 2016 qualifying process to full-time professionals.

The controversial plans have been met by vocal criticism from a number of senior figures, which former world heavyweight champion Haye added to on Wednesday.

The 35-year-old called the proposals "crazy" and warned it would not only stunt the development of fighters but could potentially lead to serious injury.

"You get these young kids who are training their whole life to go to the Olympics," Haye told the SportsPro Live conference at Wembley.

"To go there and not fight someone else like them but fight someone who has might won an Olympics before, been a world champion and is just coming back to fight some kids, I think is insane.

"I think you're going to get some young kids hurt and you're definitely going to stunt the growth of these young kids.

"Some kids may be able to handle it, but a lot of them won't.

"How would you feel if your 17-year-old son was playing on a rugby team and all of a sudden he was playing Harlequins? The kid would get absolutely mullered, completely smashed to bits.

"Then they would think 'rugby's not for me'. They'll never become a professional because they've been so badly injured by these big, strong guys.

"Or a college American football team playing a professional NFL team - it's just not fair. One is men, one is kids. It just makes zero sense."

Haye believes the decision is borne out of the AIBA's desire to monetise their product and claims he does not know of any professional boxers planning to put themselves forward for the Olympics.

While he understands some could see the Games as a chance to kick-start a faltering career, the heavyweight boxer believes amateur boxers need better protection.

"To go back from (making it as a professional), it just seems like a cheat," Haye said of the plans, which will go before AIBA's organisation Extraordinary Congress in May.

"All it's going to take is one 17-year-old kid from Sweden fighting an American 30-year-old current world champion, puts the poor kid into a coma and then everyone will go 'why did you allow that to happen?'

"Obviously it is a contact sport so why would you allow that 17-year-old boy to fight this 30-year-old man who has already won the Olympics 10 years ago? What's the point?"

Press Association

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