The World Boxing Association (WBA) is an international boxing organization that sanctions official matches, and awards the WBA world championship title at the professional level. Founded in the United States in 1921 by thirteen state representatives as the National Boxing Association, in 1962 it changed its name in recognition of boxing’s growing popularity worldwide, and began to gain other nations as members.
By 1975 a majority of votes were held by Latin American nations, and the organization headquarters were moved to Panama. After being located during the 1990s and early 2000s in Venezuela, in 2007 the organization offices returned to Panama. It is the oldest of the four major organizations recognized by IBHOF which sanction world championship boxing bouts, alongside the International Boxing Federation, the World Boxing Council and the World Boxing Organization.
The original sanctioning body of professional boxing, the World Boxing Association can be traced back to the original National Boxing Association, organized in 1921 in the United States. The first bout it recognized was the Jack Dempsey-Georges Carpentier Heavyweight Championship bout in New Jersey.
The NBA was formed by representatives from thirteen American states, including Sam Milner to counterbalance the influence that the New York State Athletic Commission (NYSAC) wielded in the boxing world. The NBA and the NYSAC sometimes crowned different world champions in the same division, leading to confusion about who was the real champion.
The International Boxing Research Organization describes the early NBA as follows:
“Originally more comparable to the present American Association of Boxing Commissions than to its offspring and successor, the NBA sanctioned title bouts, published lists of outstanding challengers, withdrew titular recognition, but did not attempt to appoint its own title bout officials or otherwise impose its will on championship fights. It also did not conduct purse bids or collect ‘sanctioning fees.
With the growth of boxing’s popularity worldwide, in 1962 the NBA changed its name to the World Boxing Association. The organization remained mainly American in membership until 1974, however. In that year, Rodrigo Sanchez and Elias Cordova, two Panamanian figures in boxing, manipulated the WBA rules to give a majority of votes to nations in Latin America.
Gilberto Mendoza has been the President of the WBA since 1982. In the 1990s, the WBA moved its central offices from Panama City, Panama, to Caracas, Venezuela. In January 2007, it returned its offices to Panama.