Tokyo 2020 Olympics: Why two Bronze Medals are Awarded in Boxing Competition?
Boxing is one of the oldest sports in the Olympic events. The fighters exchange punches for three rounds of three minutes each to progress and eventually find a place on the podium. However, unlike other Olympic sports, boxing has two bronze medals instead of just one.
Of late, Indian welterweight Lovlina Borgohain secured bronze after winning her quarter-final fight at the Tokyo Olympics. This left quite a number of fans confused.
Indian boxing legends Mary Kom and Vijender Singh were awarded two bronze medals in the Olympics, despite losing their respective semi-finals at London 2012 and Beijing 2008.
It is worth mentioning that grabbing a semi-final spot is an automatic bronze medal. However, there weren't always two bronze medal winners in boxing.
No Bronze Medal for five Olympics
Boxing made its Olympic debut in 1904, and since then it featured a bronze medal match for the losing semi-finalists whereas the top two boxers received the gold and silver medal, a standard rule in most sports.
It wasn't until 1950 that the International Boxing Association (AIBA) decided to amend the rule at the second AIBA Congress, doing away with the bronze medal match. Both losers of the semi-finals were to be placed third and neither of them was awarded a medal.
It was introduced due to the short interval between the bronze medal and the gold medal playoff as the boxers did not get enough time to recover, which risked their health.
On AIBA’s recommendation, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) scrapped the bronze medal match at the 1952 Helsinki Games and the beaten semi-finalists were given an Olympic diploma instead of a medal. This practised continued for five editions till the 1968 Summer Olympics in Mexico City.
Two Bronze Medals in Boxing
It wasn't until 1970 that the two losing semifinalists each received a bronze medal instead of an Olympic diploma. The proposal was put forth by AIBA on the recommendations of the Finland Boxing Association. It was accepted by IOC and all 10 semi-finalists from 1952, 1956, 1960, 1964 and 1968 were eventually awarded a bronze medal at a ceremony held in 1970.
The 1972 Olympics held in Munich became the first games to award two bronze medals in Boxing. That is how the practice of awarding two bronze medals in boxing originated and continues to date.