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IOC banishes boxing governing body from Olympics, but the sport will still be at the Paris Games


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By Raham Dunbar, Associated Press

The International Boxing Association was banished from the Olympic family on Thursday, ending a years-long dispute fueled by defying advice and instructions from the IOC. Boxing, however, will keep its status as an Olympic sport at the 2024 Paris Games.

The International Olympic Committee voted to derecognize the IBA at a specially called meeting — an outcome that was inevitable after being recommended two weeks ago by the executive board, a body chaired by IOC president Thomas Bach.

The vote was 69-1, with 10 members abstaining.

Boxing was never really in danger of being kicked out of the Olympics over the four years since the IOC suspended the sport’s governing body in an effort to force changes.

“We highly value the sport of boxing. We have an extremely serious problem with IBA because of their governance,” Bach told IOC members during their online meeting.

The dispute centered on the IBA’s management under presidents from Uzbekistan and Russia who the IOC disapproved of, its finances being backed by Russian state energy firm Gazprom, plus the integrity of bouts and judging.

“The boxers fully deserve to be governed by an international federation with integrity and transparency,” the IOC president said.

The IOC is already overseeing boxing competitions for the Paris Olympics without IBA involvement, as it did for the Tokyo Games in 2021.

It was unclear if boxers representing national federations who stay affiliated to the IBA will be classed as eligible for the Paris competition.

Boxing can now be confirmed on the 2028 Los Angeles Olympic program, which the IOC and Bach withheld as leverage against IBA. Boxing is “guaranteed” to be in Los Angeles, members were told Thursday.

The sport is good for Olympic business with broad appeal — 25 different countries won boxing medals in Tokyo, with nine taking gold — and the IOC repeatedly said its problem was with boxing officials, not its athletes.

“We appreciate boxing as one of the most global sports. We embrace the values of boxing,” Bach said, praising the sport’s “important social role promoting inclusion.”

The IBA, which called the decision a “tremendous error,” can appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

The expulsion was “catastrophic for global boxing and blatantly contradicts the IOC’s claims of acting in the best interests of boxing and athletes,” the Lausanne-based boxing body said in a statement.

Olympic boxing has had a tainted reputation for decades, typified by notorious judging at the 1988 Seoul Games that denied American light-middleweight Roy Jones Jr. the gold medal against home fighter Park Si-hun. Jones, who now has Russian citizenship, was enlisted by the IBA last year to support its fight for Olympic status.

There were allegations ahead of the 2012 London Olympics of cash deals planned to fix medals, and further doubt cast by fighters on the integrity of bouts at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Games.

At those Olympics, the president of boxing’s governing body, then known by its French acronym AIBA, was long-time IOC member C.K. Wu of Taiwan.

“The IOC has failed to recognize the destructive actions of C.K. Wu, who led the International Boxing Association to bankruptcy, collapse, and corruption at all levels,” the IBA said.

After Wu was ousted by boxing officials in 2017, the sport’s problems with the IOC intensified.

National federations defied IOC warnings in 2018 by electing Gafur Rakhimov as president. The businessman from Uzbekistan allegedly had ties to organized crime and heroin trafficking.

Umar Kremlev’s election to replace Rakhimov in 2020 followed another round of IOC election warnings that went unheeded.

The IBA’s debts approaching $20 million were cleared under Kremlev and the IOC objected to the boxing body’s financial reliance on Gazprom.

Kremlev announced last month at the men’s world championships that the IBA was no longer sponsored by Gazprom, and his rhetoric against Olympic officials got more confrontational.

Thursday’s meeting went ahead after a late appeal by the IBA to CAS against the IOC board’s recommendation failed this week.

IOC vice president John Coates recused himself from the debate and vote on boxing because he has led the CAS management board for the past 12 years.

The IOC can now start to work with a rival organization created this year called World Boxing. It has drawn support from officials in the United States, Switzerland and Britain, countries whose national federations resisted Kremlev’s leadership of the IBA.

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--- Olympic boxing is a clusterF at best, and usually at worst

Overall I stopped watching the Olympics ages ago as the whole Organization was dubious from inception. Nonetheless, for a kid keeping up in sports, the Olympics had some the biggest stars in my era, Big George being most especially predominant.

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World Boxing names first 6 members as it seeks IOC recognition

Reuters News Service

World Boxing, a new body seeking recognition from the International Olympic Committee, announced its first six official members Wednesday with the United States among federations from three continents.

The others approved as full members were New Zealand Boxing, Boxing Australia, England Boxing and the Dutch Boxing Federation.

GB Boxing, which delivers the United Kingdom's publicly-funded World Class Programme but is not a national governing body as England, Wales and Scotland have their own, was listed as an associate member.

The IOC executive board in June recommended withdrawing recognition of the Russian-led IBA over its failure to meet a set of reforms.

It had already suspended the IBA in 2019 over governance, finance, refereeing and ethical issues.

World Boxing launched in April with a mission to keep boxing at the heart of the Olympic movement amid fears it might be excluded from future Games, with the sport not on the initial program for Los Angeles 2028.

Applicant members needed to demonstrate a transparent and open election process for positions of office and be recognized formally by their national Olympic committee or ministry for sport.

Full members will have voting rights at the inaugural congress in November.

World Boxing secretary general Simon Toulson said a number of other applications were being processed.

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