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Amateur Boxing last chance to survive in Olympic Competition

As if things were bad enough before the Catastrophic invasion of Russia into Ukraine happened, now Amateur boxing is facing its worst crisis in the it’s history after being adopted as an Olympic sport back in 1904.

AIBA became the official boxing entity recognized by the IOC many decades ago, in the 1940´s, with the responsibility to organize the affiliation of national boxing federations around the world to produce elimination processes to secure the boxers to participate at the Olympic Games and to administer such competitions.

Amateur boxing has always been of extreme importance. Olympic champions went on to become professional champions and heroes of the world, some of the greatest champions in history found their beginnings in the Olympic Games glory, some of them are : Muhammad Ali, George Foreman, Joe Frazier, Sugar Ray Leonard and Oscar Delahoya, just to name a few.

AIBA suffered dramatic changes which led to scandals inside and outside the ring. Countless cases of bad officiating associated with corruption, changes in rules which hurt the integrity of the sport and health of the fighters and entering into actions which created a clear conflict of interests brought AIBA to a crisis which led to the removal of their President Ching-Kuo Wu after the executive committee determined he could not continue as President.

Gafur Rakhimov, from Uzbekistan was elected President in 2017. A man with intentions of bringing back to basics the operations of AIBA to the roots of amateur boxing and one who had the support of the executive committee. 

Rakhimov faced opposition from the IOC due to the scandals created by Wu´s administration as well as from legal attacks against his character, which today have been internationally cleared . However, when the IOC demanded him to step down as President in order to continue recognition of the federation, Rahimov chose to support boxing and AIBA and decided to voluntarily leave the position of President.

After an interim President, current President Umar Kremlev, from Russia, was elected in 2020. He has faced extreme complications as the IOC continued their demands for AIBA to prove changes in the administration goals and procedures , to prove solid governance with good practices. The IOC under Kremlev has not been able to do so and in fact IOC expelled AIBA as an affiliate to the IOC and had to appoint a committee to run the boxing activity for Tokio 2021.

AIBA just changed their name to IBA and still do not have recognition of IOC.

Russia invasion has also created a huge problem to IBA on several counts:

– Umar Kremlev, president of IBA, is from Russia and international sports authorities are banning sports, athletes, teams and executives, so Kremlev could face such consequences.

– IOC, even before the war, expressed its concern about AIBA, now IBA, about the sole sponsorship from Russia as Russian Oil company GazProm is the sole financial supporter for IBA. 

– The Russian Boxing Federation, which Kremlev presided over before becoming president of AIBA, publicly supports the war and invasion of Ukraine . This is a major scandal in the world , specifically in the world of boxing.

It is well know that IBA executive committee is concerned about the status of boxing with regards to the IOC, as well as internally . Boxing has been suspended from Los Angeles Olympics 2028 and will only participate in a case by case evaluation, technically Olympic boxing dies after Paris 2024.

With all these happening, Amateur Boxing is facing its last opportunity to survive. If Umar Kremlev was to follow Gafur Rakhimov’s unselfish action to save their beloved organization , Kremlev should resign as President of IBA and give boxing an opportunity to regain Olympic status from the IOC under a new leadership.

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