RIO DE JANEIRO, Aug 6 (Reuters) - Carmine Tommasone made boxing history when he became the first fully professional fighter to compete in the Olympics on Saturday, winning his opening bout against an amateur from Mexico.
Tommasone, a 32-year-old lightweight from Italy, is competing after AIBA, the sport’s governing body, made a constitutional change in June that ended 112 years of amateur exclusivity at the Games.
One of only three outright pros to have qualified, he won all three rounds on Saturday against 21-year-old Lindolfo Delgado.
“The Olympics is the top dream of any athlete,” said Tommasone.
“I am very happy,” he added, his face still red from a gritty bout in which he struggled to penetrate the guard of his taller opponent.
It is the first time since 1980 that fighters are competing in the Olympics without headgear.
The boxing began in mid-morning on the first full day of competition at the Games after a colourful opening ceremony at Rio’s Maracana stadium on the previous night.
The 9000-seat boxing venue was far from full at a sprawling convention centre, but enthusiastic fans cheered the early bouts between light flyweights from countries including Britain, Cameroon and Spain.
The raucous home supporters were left disappointed, however, as Brazil’s Patrick Lourenco lost to Colombia’s Yurberjen Herney Martinez.
The winners of the opening bouts will move forward into the round of 16. (Reporting by Paulo Prada; Editing by Toby Davis)