Olympic boxing faces existential threat ahead of IBA elections | ‘Urgent changes are needed’ | Boxing News

Olympic boxing must confront an impending disaster.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has repeatedly warned about the corruption, poor governance and financial evaluations of the International Boxing Association (IBA), the governing body of the amateur sport in the world. world.

Boxing has been dropped from the original program for the Olympic Games in 2028. Since everything is fine, the sport will not be included in the Olympics after the next Olympics unless it can meet the criteria. criteria that the IOC has set for reform.

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The markings on that score are cause for deep concern. Earlier this year the IOC withdrew the IBA’s Olympic status and boxing tournament in Paris 2024, in a manner similar to how an IOC Task Force ran boxing events at the last Olympics.

But the removal of the sport from the program for the 2028 Olympics shows that the IOC has no intention of doing so for a third time.

The IBA must then reform itself, to the satisfaction of the IOC, or else it will be expelled from the Olympics after Paris. That would be disastrous for boxing at all levels of the sport.

So far, however, the situation remains dire and the outlook continues to be bleak. Just this month, the IOC wrote again to warn of “serious concerns over the management of the IBA,” making it clear that it still cannot reverse the exclusion of boxing from the 2028 Olympics.

The crisis in IBA governance intensified when Boris van der Vorst was ruled ineligible to stand in elections against incumbent IBA president Umar Kremlev. Van der Vorst went to the Court of Arbitration for Sport to overturn that ruling and his case was upheld. The election will be held again at the IBA Extraordinary Congress in Armenia on Sunday.

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Nicola Adams and Anthony Joshua star at London 2012, a groundbreaking Olympics for GB boxing

National federations will need to vote for that re-election to proceed, if they do, an election will be held shortly thereafter.

This will be an important test for the IBA and whether it can pull Olympic boxing back from the brink.

Van der Vorst of the Netherlands, who is challenging Kremlev for the presidency, insists it is a battle to save boxing’s Olympic future.

“Be clear and don’t take my word for it, just read the IOC’s most recent open letter to the sitting president,” he said. Sports sky.

“The upcoming IBA Games will also determine the legacy of all participating delegates. Decisions made at the Games can destroy boxers’ Olympic dreams, destroy our sport. , destroy our national federations.

“But we can also save our sport, ensure its sustainable development towards a prosperous future. We can step out of self-destructive mode. This can only happen. What could happen if we all resisted pressure, rejected corruption, doubted extravagant promises, and stayed true to boxing values.”

The IBA’s problems need to be fixed and Van der Vorst believes the current management can no longer do that.

Lauren Price during a practice session for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics at Birmingham NEC, UK.
Lauren Price is the gold medalist on the most successful British Olympic boxing team in 100 years

“As many independent experts investigating the IBA have collectively reported: the main problems are caused by people in boxing, not by regulations. It is necessary to reform leadership and organizational culture, not This is the broader picture, no doubt, but operationally we need to tackle three areas where the IOC is concerned: competitive integrity, governance and financial sustainability. It sounds like a lot, but we’ve got the regulations. We just have to comply and strictly adhere to it, and I’m ready to make sure of that,” he said.

“I have committed to restoring the IOC’s financial contributions to the IBA, opening more Olympic Solidarity funds for boxing, and establishing a Boxing Independent Integrity Unit to protect boxers and their federations. country, all within 100 days of my election as president. If I can’t get this done, I’ll resign. I’m confident I can put an end to their self-destructive confrontation. me with the IOC, our largest and most trusted partner.”

Russia’s Kremlev Palace itself insists boxing will remain an Olympic sport.

“There is no way that boxing will lose its Olympic status. We will work with the IOC to overcome any obstacles,” he said. Sports sky.

“Boxing is one of the oldest Olympic sports, and I believe past wrongdoing should not be a reason to punish the thousands of boxers with their Olympic dreams. We have no points. in common with the old AIBA, we shouldn’t be held responsible for the wrongdoings of others. Personally, I would care about keeping boxing clean from corruption and other problems.”

The IBA has been taking steps to alleviate some of the IOC concerns. Richard McLaren, for example, was brought in to look into corruption issues.

Delicious Orie is targeting super heavy gold.  (Photo: IBA)
The hope of the next generation of boxing talent lies in boxing becoming an Olympic sport (Image: IBA)

“We have completed about 90% of the planned reforms and we will keep working towards integrity, transparency and sustainability,” emphasized Kremlev.

“We believe that the IOC will evaluate our work fairly. To name a few, we have settled all our debts, distributed prize money to major tournaments, increased the men’s weight division. and women, established a financial aid program to help our national federations. [Ulrich] Haas’s recommendations, we changed our constitution. That’s a huge job done in just 21 months. I am positive that the work of the IBA will be recognized and appreciated. “

Being able to conduct a presidential election deemed to have been fairly administered would be an important test of whether the IBA can reform its governance. But as well as misconduct, the IOC also raises concerns about IBA funding sources. It currently depends on Russian state energy giant Gazprom for funding.

Kremlev promises: “We will announce new sponsors in the next few days. IBA is developing a strong commercial program to diversify its revenue.”

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He still conceded: “This congress will be decisive for our governance reforms.”

However, Kremlev has criticized the IOC itself, a sign that there is a long way to go before the IBA and IOC can establish a harmonious relationship.

“We are very disappointed with the IOC’s decision to withdraw the right to run the IBA’s qualifying and boxing tournament in Paris 2024. Over the past 22 months, we have made strong progress in governance and finance. , arbitration and evaluation, all of which are not done. are under review,” emphasized Kremlev.

“Of course, there is always a way to improve more, however, this decision is really frustrating because we have worked hard to reform the organization with the participation of the best independent experts and Our remarkable progress has not been recognized and appreciated.

“However, life goes on, and we have a lot of work to do to ensure the health of our athletes and coaches, who are our top priority.”

But the loss of Olympic boxing will be devastating. Its effects will spread to amateur boxing clubs and the communities they serve as well as hinder the growth of future professional and elite boxers. It will destroy the foundation of the sport as we know it.

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Olympic boxing has a long history in the United Kingdom. The professional success of Anthony Joshua, Amir Khan and many others is shaped by their performance at the Olympic Games. England had the most successful Olympic boxing team in a hundred years at the most recent Olympics in Tokyo last year.

Boxing, the national governing body, has stressed the seriousness of the situation.

“The fact that boxing was not included in the original program for the 2028 Olympics in Los Angeles is a further, significant red flag,” Boxing said in a statement.

“Boxing has a proud and illustrious track record at the Olympics, having been contested at every Summer Olympics since it was introduced into the program in 1904 – and we want to keep it that way.

“With that in mind, the British administration is making the urgent changes needed to protect boxing’s Olympic sport status is best served by voting for the challenging presidential candidate, Boris van. der Vorst.”

For boxing, the sport of Muhammad Ali, of women pioneers like Nicola Adams and one of the original Olympic events, not being able to participate in the Olympics was once unthinkable. It is now an imminent threat, one that will become a reality until drastic action is taken.

Sunday’s IBA Games will be another pivotal moment, but time to save the sport is quickly running out.

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