Meet the Olympic Boxing Athlete Ambassadors

Following the formation of an Olympic Boxing Task Force (BTF) in June 2019 to ensure the delivery of the Olympic Boxing Qualifying Events and the boxing tournament at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020, ten Athlete Ambassadors have been selected ahead of the qualification events, to give a global athlete voice, serve as athlete representatives and a liaison between the BTF and boxers hoping to compete at the Games. 

  • Athlete Ambassadors will act as the voice for boxers ahead of Tokyo 2020, helping to ensure their input is reflected in each step of the planning for the qualifiers and the Games. 
  • These ten selected athletes provide gender equality and global representation, with one man and one woman from each of the five regions. 
  • Athlete365 will continue to support boxers in the build-up to Tokyo 2020 through our dedicated boxing website, In Your Corner.  

The Olympic Boxing Task Force has selected a diverse and inspirational group of Athlete Ambassadors as representatives for boxers on the road to Tokyo 2020. The selected Athlete Ambassadors are: 

  • Jianguan HU (China) 
  • Mary KOM (India) 
  • Lukmon LAWAL (Nigeria) 
  • Julio Cesar LA CRUZ PERAZA (Cuba) 
  • Vasyl LOMACHENKO (Ukraine)  
  • Khadija MARDI (Morocco)
  • Mikaela MAYER (USA) 
  • David NYIKA (New Zealand) 
  • Sarah OURAHMOUNE (France) 
  • Shelley WATTS (Australia) 

The ten ambassadors are all either active or recently retired boxers and cover a wide spectrum of the boxing worldThe group is made up of several world champions and Olympic medallists such as two-time Olympic gold medallist Vasyl Lomachenko and six-time world champion Mary Kom along with youthful athletes like David Nyika also part of the team. 

The ambassadors were selected following a nomination process involving their NOC, its Athletes’ Commission and their National Federation. All of them have strong experience of international tournaments and will lend their expert knowledge to the BTF in order to create a smooth qualification process to Tokyo and a successful final tournament. 

As part of their role, they will be available to athletes within their region for discussion both face-to-face at the Olympic Boxing Qualifying Events, and digitally through social media and other online channels. The goal of the ambassadors is to promote the athlete voice and provide vital feedback to the BTF. This will ensure that boxing remains centred around the athletes and that their best interests are promoted.  

Athlete-centred approach 

The Olympic BTF is chaired by IOC Member Morinari Watanabe, who has been very active since it was created in June 2019 by the IOC Executive Board 

“[That] decision was taken in the interest of the athletes and the sport of boxing,” said IOC President Thomas Bach at the time. We want to ensure that the athletes can live their dream and participate in the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020.” 

“In all of the work of the Boxing Task Force we want to put boxers first,” said Mr Watanabe. “We are delighted with this group of diverse and inspiration athletes who make up the Athlete Ambassadors, and look forward to working closely with them in all areas of our decisions and event planning to make sure the athletes are not only at the centre of our work but actively engaged in it.” 

Along with Mr Watanabe, the Olympic BTF is composed of four other members including IOC Athletes’ Commission member Aya Medani, who has represented the athletes’ interests in the BTF planning since its’ launch 

“The role of the athletes is more important than ever in sport and having a truly global and gender equal group of incredible boxers puts the athletes at the centre of our work on the Boxing Road to Tokyo,” said Ms. Medani. “This athlete voice needs to be promoted in boxing, not only for our Olympic project for Tokyo 2020 but all areas of the sport. I am looking forward to working with them and engaging with boxers from around the world each step of the way to Tokyo.” 

Throughout the process, boxers have been supported by the Athletes’ Rights and Responsibilities Declaration, the document that protects athletes’ rights and promises to promote the ability and opportunity of all, regardless of background 

In particular, there has been an emphasis from the BTF, in line with the Athletes’ Declaration, to prioritise the opportunity for boxers to appear at the Games while maintaining fair, balanced tournaments. An increase in female competitors, up to 100 from 36 at Rio 2016, is evidence of this, as is the introduction of a robust anti-doping programme.  

Part of this effort to protect the athletes’ right to a transparent, fair and clean sporting environment – as outlined in the Athletes’ Declaration – will see PwC independently review the process for selecting and evaluating boxing judges and referees. This assessment will happen both before and during all qualification events and at the Olympic tournament in Tokyo. 

Since August a dedicated portal on Athlete365 (Boxing)In Your Cornerhas been available in five languages to provide extra support. Now, Athlete365 and the BTF will work together with the ten ambassadors to engage with boxers digitally and in-person at the five continental qualification tournaments 

For the official IOC press release see here.

For further information about the athlete ambassadors and what they can do to help you, head to In Your Corner.