BAKU—Under heavy security and after threats from local groups, two Armenian boxers competing in the World Boxing Championships being held in Azerbaijan this week, qualified for the quarterfinals, thus ensuring a spot in the London Olympics competition next week.
Andranik Hakobyan (75kg) representing Armenia won a match over Juan Antonio Mersado from Mexico in the 1/8 final, ensuring his participation in the 2012 Olympic Games in London.
Boxer David Hayrapetyan (49kg), an Armenian from the Russia team, also won a spot at the 2012 Olympics by making it to the quarterfinal after beating Poland’s Lukasz Maszczyk.
The other six boxers representing Armenia were defeated in earlier matches during the competition.
Despite heavy security promised by official Baku, the Armenian athletes were met with jeers and insults from spectators at the Haydar Aliyev Sports and Concert Complex, where the competition was being held.
On Sunday, a group of spectators identifying themselves as members of the so-called Karabakh Liberation Organization began shouting ethnic slurs as Armenian athletes entered the ring and proceeded to throw rocks at the Armenian competitors.
Aqif Naghi, a leader of the KLO told Azeri media that they planned to create obstacles for the Armenians participating in the competition. He said they were getting ready for the “event” for awhile.
“We found out about when the Armenian boxers would be entering the ring. As soon as we saw them we threw stones at their direction,” declared Naghi.
The International Boxing Association was quick to reiterate on Wednesday that security measures are in place to protect Armenian participants at the competition after the stone throwing incident.
IBA spokesman Sebastien Gillot said the spectators responsible for the incident were thrown out by security guards.
Gillot also said that Azerbaijan is also protecting the Armenian delegation by providing separate housing, both the Armenian and Russian teams.