The future of Olympic boxing is precarious

Its historical “Olympic” federation is on bad terms with the Olympic Committee, and there is a new international federation that wants to turn things around.

For several years now, there have been bad relations between the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the International Boxing Association (IBA), the reference association for Olympic boxing, which was once only amateur and now also professional. Among the many international boxing federations, each of which has its own titles and belts, it is the IBA that organizes the men’s and women’s world championships (in which the Italian Irma Testa recently won) and represents boxing at the Olympic level in the IOC.

Or rather, that He should Representing it: Since 2019, the International Olympic Committee has in fact suspended the International Boxing Association due to administrative and corruption problems, and has since run Olympic boxing on its own. Especially in recent months, the International Bar Association has raised the tone and level of confrontation with the International Olympic Committee several times, making more vulnerable its future Olympic presence, possibly as early as the 2024 Paris Olympics, which will begin in less than 500 days. It certainly doesn’t help that the league has a Russian president, that its main sponsor is the Russian energy company Gazprom and that at the last women’s world championships Russian athletes were allowed to compete in the Russian uniform, flag and anthem.

With these premises, a few days ago World Boxing was born, a new international federation that has distanced itself from the IBA (several countries that boycotted the Women’s World Cup and who will boycott the men’s tournaments scheduled for May in Uzbekistan are part of it) and which presents itself as an alternative to the IBA international football, and aims to show the IOC that another Olympic boxing is possible. And it is likely that the IOC did not wait for anything else: boxing has in fact been an Olympic sport since 1904, and because of its prevalence and popularity, it is still considered an important sport, a tradition that must be preserved.

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like He said At the end of March, an IOC spokesperson said, in one of the many confrontations between the Olympic Committee and the Professional League: «To be absolutely clear, the IOC has no problem with boxers or boxing as a sport, but there are problems with its federation. .

(AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

The problems between the International Olympic Committee and the IBA (until a few years ago known as AIBA, where the plus sign “A” stood for “amateur”) mainly stem from a scandal regarding the corruption of some boxing referees at the 2016 Olympics and from a recent independent report He knew A general culture of meeting manipulation.

Added to this are the very tense relations between the IOC and the three other presidents of the International Bar Association: first the Taiwanese Wu Ching-kuo, who resigned after a financial scandal that brought the federation close to bankruptcy; After him, the Uzbek millionaire Ghafur Rahimov, who was presented by the US Treasury Department as “one of the main criminals in Uzbekistan,” and since 2020 the Russian Umar Karimlev is considered “close” to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Putin and the Kremlin in September 2022 (Gavriil Grigorov, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)

For now, the IBA claims to have solved its problems with the corruption of judges and referees, as well as those with some of its financial and administrative practices, but it continues to oppose in various ways the IOC, which effectively mandates Olympic boxing. . Already in the 2021 Tokyo Olympics, boxing events are being administered by the International Olympic Committee. At the Paris Olympics, it is also expected that all boxing events (scheduled for Roland Garros) will be run independently, but the situation is complicated by the fact that the IBA and the IOC cannot agree on which events are considered valid for qualification. for those Olympic Games.

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He was elected first by acclamation, and then, after methodological disputes, Re-elected In a new vote, thanks to the money of Gazprom, Kremlev brought a lot of money to the International Professional League, which already in October 2022 reintroduced Russian and Belarusian athletes, moreover in the direct representation of their countries and not, as happened elsewhere, as “neutral” ” .

For this reason, and more generally for the Kremlev administration, eleven countries boycotted the Women’s World Cup that was being organized in March in India, mostly the same countries that would boycott men and which chose to create a new international. Federation called World Boxing.

India World Cup Circuit ((Kabir Jhangiani / Zuma PressWire)

The possibility of creating a new federation has been talked about for months and now – pending all the official passages envisaged from May – the national federations of the United Kingdom, the United States, Germany, Sweden, New Zealand, the Philippines and the Netherlands (its president, Boris van der Voorst, is Karmalev’s main opponent), but many Other national federations have shown interest.

For now, the Italian Boxing Federation (FPI) remains in the IBA and is not among those boycotting the world championships. At the beginning of April, after the Women’s World Cup, its president Flavio d’Ambrosi told al Sports Courier: «Responsibilities and the public interest come first, even personal convictions. I definitely think we can do better internationally, not just in boxing. Sport must be free from issues that do not fall within the scope of the Olympic Charter, as it is a tool for education and construction, including.” When asked about his expectations in light of Paris 2024, d’Ambrosi spoke of a “very rocky moment” saying he wished for “Olympics as open and inclusive as possible.” possible.”

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World boxing meanwhile He said wanting to “address the deep-rooted skepticism expressed by the IOC regarding the integrity, governance, transparency and financial management of boxing”. She added that her goal is to “be recognized by the International Olympic Committee”.

As it stands now both play time against World Boxing (becoming an international federation and joining the IOC are two things that take several steps) and the fact that the IBA seems to you still richer. In its favor is the fact that among the personalities chosen to sponsor its creation are athletes and managers considered close to IOC positions, including the one who he arrives from there.

(EPA/Harish Tyagi)

In all of this, there is also the fact that, despite being suspended since 2019, the IBA is still part of the IOC. Having already called the World Cup boycotters “hyenas and jackals” by Karimlev, answered Arriving at World Boxing with a very decisive and stern statement, presenting World Boxing as an organization “a fraud“, that is” secretive “and” rebellious “.

It is possible that the men’s world championship, which will take place between May 1 and 14, will help clarify the situation a little, but for the Olympic future of boxing, the most important step will undoubtedly be the June meeting of the IOC Executive Committee, where the near-term future of boxing will be one of the most expected topics. Instead, we will have to wait at least a few more months to see if boxing will become part of the 2028 Los Angeles Olympics program.

– Also read: The last country in the world without a national soccer team

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Queenie Bell

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