By its nature, boxing should be a simple sport.The best fighter wins by virtue of skill and strength.
Like life, things don't always turn out like they should.
The decision to award Canadian boxer Mary Spencer a wild-card entry for the London Summer Olympics will breathe new life into the 27-year-old's dream of winning a gold medal. It also brings a huge sigh of relief from the Canadian Olympic Committee who avoided embarrassment after using the three-time world champion in a splashy advertising campaign even before she qualified for the Games.
Whether giving Spencer a ticket to London is fair, or even correct, is another matter.
[Related: Spencer's Olympic dream alive]
Spencer's hopes of going to the Olympics took a body blow when she lost her opening bout against Sweden's Anna Rosalie Laurell at the women's world boxing championships in China. Two automatic Olympic spots were available to be won by boxers from the Americas at the championships. It would have helped Spencer's cause had Laurell gone on win the title, but she lost in the semifinals.
That left Spencer's fate up to the International Olympic Committee's Tripartite Commission to decide who would receive the lone wild card berth in her 75-kilogram class. According to the IOC, the objective of tripartite commission is to "strengthen the principle of universal representation at the Games by allowing a number of NOCs without or with few athletes qualified to participate in the Olympic Games. These places provide the NOCs, whenever possible, with the opportunity to be represented at the Olympic Games by the best athlete from their country.''
It was a long, agonizing wait for Spencer. In a recent interview her coach Charlie Stewart suggested it was a no-brainer that Spencer be given the spot.
"Mary is a three-time world champion,'' Stewart told the Windsor Star "I'm sure whoever else they are considering isn't a three-time world champ.''
Fair enough. As an eight-time Canadian champion and Pan American Games gold medallist, Spencer's fighting skills can't be questioned. She also is a role model not only for young women in Canada but, because of her Ojibwa heritage, for Aboriginal athletes.
Still, you wonder if Spencer was the sort of athlete the IOC had in mind when setting up the Tripartite Commission. You'd think the goal was to select athletes from countries struggling to establish new sports. You can't help but wonder how much Spencer's profile, and not just her skill, factored into the decision. By signing a deal with CoverGirl makeup, Spencer put a face on boxing that both the IOC and the International Boxing Association loved.
Pat Fiacco, Boxing Canada's president, said Spencer is going to London on merit.
"Her previous three world championship titles prove that she should be in the Olympics,'' he said in a prepared statement.
Spencer has been given a second chance, something not all athletes enjoy.
"The route to London was not as expected, but I feel I've learned a lot and I will take those lessons with me on the final leg of the journey,'' Spencer said in a statement.
Women's boxing makes its debut in London. When Spencer failed to qualify at the world championships, it meant one of the sport's most recognizable faces might not be seen competing at the highest profile event.
Hopefully that didn't factor into the decision to let Spencer fight at the Olympics.