The National Games of China, which started somewhat shakily, has concluded with the dissolution of the Chinese national boxing team, termination of their referee qualifications, and the suspension of its administrators.
While this may sound like an extreme measure, the move came about due to numerous bouts during the Games being scored in a manner deemed biased. On many occasions, after hearing the results, the losing fighter refused to leave the ring and subsequent matches were postponed.
Attempts at reviewing results were denied by authorities because, according to the rules set by the Chinese Boxing Federation, scores of 5-0 or 4-1 cannot be subject to appeal.
To put this in context, a fight is scored according to how many judges give the contest for a particular fighter. So a score of 5-0 would indicate that all judges felt that the competitor had clean won.
In the example of the men’s 69 kg semifinal held on August 10, the now-former leader of the national team, Liu Wei, lost in a 0-5 decision. After the results, his coach tried to talk to the judges about a decision they felt was incorrect.
However, while a 0-5 score may seem like a one-sided beat down, complaining may not be as egregious as the fighters would have you believe. It is possible that all five judges felt that the bout was impossibly close, and only marginally scored it for Liu’s opponent; the announced result would still be 0-5.
But fight fixing can and does occur. Chinese boxing’s governing body has said that they intend to look into the matter, and that “this incident reflects that the Management Center of Boxing and Taekwondo has loopholes in selecting, managing, and employs referees.”
This revelation could not have come at a more opportune time for Chinese mixed martial arts (MMA). With the increase in Chinese media coverage that MMA received this year, allegations of corruption and dissolution in boxing, and the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) finally coming to mainland China for the first time in November, there seems to be an opening for MMA to take over.
The UFC have even recently signed their first female Chinese fighter and plan to feature her on Shanghai’s card in November. All this could pave the way for both Chinese combat sports athletes and fans to move away from the “sweet science” and towards the “ballet of violence.”
Cover image from hexun.com