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AIBA official sees boxing in China enjoying the 'brightest future'
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Boxing, a sport which had been banned for decades in China, has seen one of the brightest futures in the world's most populous country among all AIBA members, a top official from the amateur boxing's world governing body said in Beijing on Monday.

Richard Baker, Communications Manager of AIBA, said at the Worker's Gymnasium, the match place of boxing during the Olympic Games, that the Olympic boxing matches are going to be "superb", as the game has been receiving great support from the BOCOG, Beijing Organising Committee for the Olympic Games, as well as from the local public.

"All the tickets have been sold out, even those of the preliminaries, this is fantastic!" Baker told Xinhua in exclusive interview.

Besides, he said the success of Chinese boxer Zou Shiming, bronze medalist at the Athens Olympic Games and two times champion at the 2005 and 2007 World Amateur Boxing Championships, helped to stimulate his teammates' performances, improving the general strength of Chinese boxers.

"From the news coverage, I can see that the Chinese (boxing) team has become more popular in China," Baker said.

This also attracts more eyeballs from the Chinese audience, which is huge, he said.

Referring to Chinese boxers, Baker said they are generally good at being artistic, skillful, agile and fast, that's why Asian boxers are dominant in small weight categories.

"Zou (Shiming) is so creative in the ring!" he said.

When Xinhua told him that Zou and his coach have combined Chinese martial art with boxing, the AIBA official's eyes popped with astonishment.

He was also impressed by China's 91 plus category boxer, Zhang Zhilei's performance at the 2007 world championships.

"If he can win a bronze at the championships last year," said Baker, "there's no reason why he can't make one step further (this time)."

The AIBA official regarded the Worker's Gymnasium as "absolutely superb".

"The change and atmosphere of the setup here are absolutely dynamic," said he. "It's international level."

He told Xinhua that the venue will be the biggest one that the boxers would ever had in all Olympic Games.

Baker was especially happy with the round shape of the Gymnasium. "It's ideal that it's all-away round, like an amphitheatre, with drama in the middle, and audience all around to watch it," he said with a big smile.

AIBA officials and the technical delegates are "crossing their teeth and dotting their eyes" now, to make sure everything is extremely well-prepared before the competition, he said.

The Olympic boxing competition is slated to start from August 9 to 24, with 286 boxers competing for 11 gold medals.

(Xinhua News Agency August 5, 2008)

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