After hours of debate, an albeit slim majority of Members of Parliament voted to end Norway’s ban on boxing Tuesday evening. Now world champion Cecelia Brækhus of Norway will legally be able to defend her titles on home turf instead of, for example, in Denmark.
“This is unreal, it’s difficult to describe all the feelings I have right now,” a jublilant Brækhus told Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) after the vote was finally taken. “I had planned to follow the debate, but I was way too nervous.”
The conservative minority government coalition’s proposal to end the ban on boxing won with the support of the Liberal Party on a vote of 54 in favour and 48 against. Both of the government parties, the Conservatives and the Progress Party, had campaigned last year to allow professional boxing in Norway but several other parties argued vehemently against. Several Labour Party MPs, for example, cited the serious physical damage that can be inflicted in boxing matches and wanted to retain the ban in Norway.
Norway’s state health directorate, several medical experts and Norway’s national athletics association (Norges Idrettsforbund) also opposed boxing. Norway nonetheless became the 205th country in the world to allow boxing.
“I’m really glad this is finally over,” Odd Haktor Slåke, president of Norway’s boxing federation, told NRK as he passed out cake in the Parliament after the vote had been taken. “This is important for recruitment. This is a safe sport. It will be safe to be a professional boxer in Norway.”
Few were as glad as Brækhus, though. “Now at least I can say that I’m no longer a criminal in Norway,” laughed the reigning world champion who grew up in Bergen. “I feel vindicated and cleared.”