Irish Boxing set for a return to bumper Elites as IABA confirm ‘must enter’ policy

The IABA and High Performance have put in place a rule that may just insure the next instalment of the National Elite Championships will be the biggest and best we’ve seen in quite some time.

The premier domestic competition has been the subject of controversy in recent years as a lot of the biggest amateurs in the country haven’t competed.

It’s become a regular occurrence since the lead-in to Rio with those deemed #1 at their weight, and in international selection pole, as a result, are often absent from the final entry list.

It got to the stage where a host across the boxing family cried foul, some were suggesting certain fighters were being protected from potential domestic upset. Others queried whether or not certain fighters were on a training scheduled for peaking for international tournaments – schedules that the Elites didn’t tie into – while other conspiracies were put forward.

However, a full roster should be expected this year as the IABA have confirmed that any fighter with Paris 2024 selection ambitions has to enter the contest.

Giving an update on a tournament that will begin on January 12 and end on January 21, an IABA circular confirmed.

“The 2023 National Elite Championships are the de facto beginning of selection for the Paris 2024 Olympics. All boxers wishing to be considered for the selection pool for any Olympic Games qualifiers must enter these Elite Championships.”

The ‘must enter’ policy means the blue ribbon will be back out and the much-loved tournament will take centre stage again. In terms of the watching public they get to witness some of the best fighters in the world battle it out for the right to be crowned Irish champion. The Olympic element will also add tension and thus intrigue leading to a wider media spotlight on the sport.

With fighters moving up and down the scales to try and reach Paris the Olympic weights will be talent-packed and extremely interesting. The success achieved at international level this year and the emergence of new names only adds to the excitement.

A number of upsets may see new number ones at certain weights, but the High Performance aren’t obliged to pick reigning champions and can choose who they feel is best suited to international competition.

Selection is determined by the following, non-exhaustive, list of factors (in no particular order) –

National/World Ranking
Form
International performances over past two years
Behaviour and conduct at events.
Potential
Head-to-head performances
Training and performances
Fitness
Injury status
Weight status
Attitude and commitment towards HPU
Ability to work alongside others in HPU
Ability to follow HPU guidance
“In good standing with the IABA”

Assessments behind closed doors in the HPU were used to determine the teams for recent major championships and it would seem like this will be the case again for the Paris qualifiers.

The HPU have been provided a mandate to qualify boxers for major tournaments and can select fighters in whichever way they see fit – however the previous clear detachment from the national championships and an apparent unwillingness for public box-offs have led to many questioning the transparency of the process.

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