A UNIQUE TEAM BOXING TOURNAMENT IS BORN
The concept of World Series of Boxing (WSB) was first presented to the boxing family in August 2008 by President, Dr Ching-Kuo Wu. The proposal was met with approval and plans were put in place for this unique competition format. The world’s best boxers, competing in teams, without headguards and using the AIBA Ten Points-Must scoring system, would partake in a global team competition. The origin of WSB marked a new era in the sport of boxing, reuniting the broader boxing world and its grassroots amateur foundation by providing a bridge between Olympic Boxing and a future professional programme within the AIBA family.
WSB is wholly owned by AIBA. All of the boxers in WSB are also registered with AIBA and all R&Js working at WSB matches are specifically certified for the competition and widely experienced AIBA officials. The National Federations also play an important role in ensuring their best boxers are aware of, and available to participate in, World Series of Boxing.
Teams representing franchises across the globe compete in a league format that leads to play-offs and a final. The boxers compete without vests or headguards in 5 x three minute rounds; 5 bouts per match; scored by the 10-Point-Must-System.
In Seasons I & II the franchises were city-focused, but from Season III the franchises took on a national identity. Each team is also allowed a quota of overseas boxers: a maximum of 8 in total and no more than 3 from same nationality.
Teams compete in the 10 AIBA-standard weight categories. The regular season takes the form of a league phase, with the teams facing each-other at home and away in alternating weight categories, the top teams going through to the Play-Off stages.
The franchise is responsible for the recruitment of boxers, preparation of the teams and for logistics pertaining to the competition. This involves such tasks as general management, finances, marketing, events, logistics, promotion, communication and, not least, coaching. The franchise is structured under three functions supporting these tasks; Business, Commercial and Competition. This ensures that the day-to-day running of the company is smooth, that major events are delivered in a professional manner suitable for global viewing and that the recruitment, training and management of boxers is of the highest standard.
In Season I, a total of 12 teams competed across the Asia, Europe and America Conferences during the regular season, with the top team and the best runner-up (by points) qualifying for the play-offs. Astana Arlans were pitted against Los Angeles Matadors and Baku Fires faced Paris United. After the home and away matches Astana Arlans and Paris United reached the finals in Guiyang, China and nearly 400 bouts after the start of its debut season, Paris United won a historic first WSB Team Championship title.
For Season II, the competition was divided into two global divisions and brought together more than 260 boxers from over 40 different countries. After a hard-fought first phase, the semi-finals saw Dynamo Moscow up against Astana Arlans with the Russian team coming out on top at home in the return leg. Baku Fires then took on Dolce & Gabbana Milano Thunder in the second semi, and the Italians managed to put the result beyond their opponents’ reach with a dominant first leg performance. Dolce & Gabbana Milano Thunder prevailed over Dynamo Moscow in the final to win Season II, 73 in style at the ExCeL Arena, London.
In Season III, the switch from city-based to national franchises delighted fans the world over and further increased the excitement surrounding the WSB tournament. Five new franchises – Algeria Desert Hawks, Argentina Condors, British Lionhearts, Rafako Hussars Poland and Ukraine Otamans – saw WSB reaching new audiences and hosting its first-ever events in Africa. Finalists Ukraine Otamans and Astana Arlans Kazakhstan would eventually put on the most nail-biting finals in the competition’s short history, with the action going right down to the wire before the Kazakh side eventually overcame their rivals in a tense tie-breaker.
In Season IV, the competition entered the Caribbean market for the first time, welcoming one of the world’s greatest boxing nations, Cuba, into the fold with its new franchise the Domadores. The team saw professional-style boxing permitted in Cuba for the first time in 70 years, and duly lived up to the historic moment by reaching the final against Azerbaijan Baku Fires. Another remarkable final went all the way to a tie-breaker, and it was the Cuba Domadores who triumphed, lifting the trophy in their debut season.
Season V took the competition to another level, with the British Lionhearts and China Dragons returning and three new franchises established to add yet further depth to WSB. The Venezuela Caciques, Morocco Atlas Lions and Puerto Rico Hurricanes all competed superbly across the group stages, contributing to the biggest and best Regular Season phase to date, with 552 bouts across 112 matches. The awarding of 17 Olympic quota places added to the pressure, and the boxers responded superbly. Cuba Domadores again looked imperious on their way to the final, only for Astana Arlans Kazakhstan to deliver a superb final performance and lift the trophy for the second time.
Season VI saw the Uzbek Tigers and Turkiye Conquerors franchises join WSB, taking the total number of teams to 16. The new four-group format reflected the biggest expansion of the competition to date, and it was the Tigers who impressed, making it all the way to the semi-finals in an inspiring debut campaign. The British Lionhearts were also in uncompromising mood, setting up a mouthwatering final against the Cuba Domadores in Tashkent. Ten bouts of superb boxing in one grandstand season finale saw the Cubans lift the trophy for a second time, worthy winners at the end of a near-flawless season.
Season VII saw 12 teams competing in three regional groups; America, Europe/Africa and Asia, with home and away matches between the group rivals. The Season featured the return of franchises from France, Fighting Roosters and Italy, Italia Thunder, and the stars of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. WSB boxers accounted for 23 Olympic medals at the Games, including 6 golds, adding an extra dimension of excitement and competition for both the fans and the boxers. After one of the most disputed WSB Finals ever, Astana Arlans Kazakhstan defeated Cuba Domadores in an agonic tiebreaker bout to become the only team with 3 WSB titles.
National Series of Boxing
The National Series of Boxing (NSB) is a development that could follow a similar format as WSB at a national level. AIBA recognizes that such a project could satisfy the demands of Franchises and National Federations. It could strengthen the grassroots and build a platform for the development of Boxers, Coaches, Officials and Managers of the future.
This entrance door to WSB is also a place where boxing fans could discover the attractiveness and intensity of the competition. Fans could follow the boxer and his/her progression from an early stage and witness the development of the sport in their countries.
By recreating the explosive format, entertainment and attractiveness of WSB at a national level, the NSB could be a new platform of enjoyment for fans and a new opportunity for Franchises and National Federations to attract regional and national broadcasters, sponsors and partners to invest in the sport.