AIBA becomes IBA as a key constitutional amendment to secure boxing's Olympic future
Boxing has managed to stay on board for the 2024 Paris Olympics but has been dropped from the provisional roster for the 2028 Games.
Promising a "new era" and "new ways of working", the International Boxing Association began the process of revamping itself in a virtual Extraordinary Congress which approved crucial constitutional amendments suggested by an independent group besides announcing a recertification programme for its under-fire referees and judges.
Boxing has managed to stay on board for the 2024 Paris Olympics but has been dropped from the provisional roster for the 2028 Games. Its future depends on the roadmap of good governance that the International Olympic Committee (IOC) wants the body to implement. The International Boxing Association will now be called IBA in its abbreviated form instead of AIBA.
The Congressional approval of constitutional reforms came after IBA unanimously approved the recommendations made in a report by the independent Governance Reform Group (GRG), led by Professor Ulrich Haas.
"It has been exactly one year since I was elected. We have set the seed for a stable future. We are ready to reach new heights," IBA President Umar Kremlev said in a virtual press conference with global media on Monday. "Let the new era of boxing begin. We have taken the best from our rich history to create a new International Boxing Association. Old values but new ways of working," he added. "All of the recommendations were approved by the congress. We will see new faces when the election is held by June 30, 2022."
The IOC, which suspended the body in 2019 and conducted the Tokyo Olympics boxing event through a task force, has reiterated that "serious concerns about AIBA's governance, finances and refereeing and judging remain" and the future of boxing in the 2024 Paris Games is not secure.
Kremlev reiterated his commitment to better judging and refereeing and promised that officials who were found to have manipulated bouts during the infamous 2016 Rio Olympics will be barred completely and would not be welcome even as spectators. Kremlev also said that the financial stability of IBA, which is a key issue for the IOC, has also been largely addressed.
The independent GRG had recommended reducing the number of AIBA Board of Directors, and the world body has responded by agreeing to limit the size of the Board to 18. It has also promised comprehensive eligibility checks to "ensure the best possible leadership team."
This is in addition to the establishment of an independent Boxing Integrity Unit which will be empowered to address competition manipulation, abuse, harassment, eligibility checks of election candidates and other issues. The GRG also proposed establishing a new interdisciplinary Strategy Committee to review IBA's long-term strategy, develop mid-term and short-term goals. All these recommendations were approved during the Extraordinary Congress on Sunday, which was attended by over 100 countries.
"I promised before my election that the debts would be all cleared. With that done, we can now provide our members financial support for developing boxing worldwide," Kremlev said. "We have a new approach to sports integrity. We must reform our refereeing and judging system. At the men's recent world championship in Belgrade, we started to amend our problems. We are fully committed to start a new, clean era for boxing," he added.
"We have started this work to make sure that our judges and referees are fair and objective. We will be launching a recertification process for our judges and referees, and if there is evidence that they are implicated in manipulating, they will not be a part of us." Kremlev said next year's women's world championships will be a showcase of how well the reforms have been implemented. "If we do good work, there is no reason for not having us in the Olympics," he said.
However, Kremlev ruled out IBA having any role in the reallocation of medals for the Rio Games, where more than 10 bouts were found to be manipulated by an independent inquiry recently. "It is up to the IOC to take this call. I can't decide for them. As for the referees and judges who were corrupt, there would be lifelong disqualification. They won't be allowed even as spectators," he asserted.
A key constitutional reform that has been approved is the enhancement of the Secretary General's role which would ensure that the responsible person carries out the tasks of a CEO. "A person who not only administrates but leads and manages AIBA's affairs...the Secretary-General should be, in principle, the sole legal representative of AIBA," the recommendation had stated which has now been codified in the amended constitution.