USA Boxing has terminated its 77-year membership in the International Boxing Association ahead of its move to a rival governing body that hopes to return the sport to Olympic favor.
The U.S. organization announced the move Wednesday in a letter to its membership from executive director Mike McAtee. USA Boxing intends to join the World Boxing International Federation, which was established two weeks ago in an attempt to preserve the Olympic future of boxing heading into the second straight Games without IBA involvement.
McAtee said USA Boxing is making the move because of the IBA's “failure to uphold its mission and principles of its constitution, and failure to respect the Olympic charter and movement.”
"USA Boxing has been a member of the IBA, formerly known as AIBA, since 1946. Boxers from the U.S. have won more medals than any nation in Olympic history. But the end of the relationship highlights the profound schism between the current IBA leadership and an apparent number of national programs determined to renew the sport's profoundly frayed relationship with the International Olympic Committee."
“USA Boxing remains committed to the Olympic movement by following the principles of proper governance, promoting neutral third-party oversight of the field of play, condemning false and misleading information from IBA leadership (and) demanding transparent financial management,” McAtee wrote in the letter.
The IOC suspended its recognition of the IBA in 2019 and hasn't restored its status because of concerns about the IBA's finances, governance, and competition judging. The divide between the bodies has grown deeper in recent months, with the IBA defiantly announcing its own Ousaic qualification tournaments even though it no longer has the power to choose Olympic competitors.
An IOC task force ran the boxing tournament at the Tokyo Olympics, and another task force is running the qualifications and competition for the Paris Games next year.
Boxing, which has been part of every Olympic program but one since 1904, is not on the provisional program for the 2028 Los Angeles Olympics, although the IOC has said it still could be added.
In announcing USA Boxing's decision, McAtee cited several national governing bodies' “growing concern that IBA leaders have failed to follow IOC's recommendations and have failed to implement the necessary changes required ... for readmission into the Olympic Movement.”
The IBA also has ignored the IOC's instruction to prohibit Russian and Belarussian athletes from competing under their national flags and colors.
The IBA's president, Umar Kremlev of Russia, met with Russian President Vladimir Putin last September. Kremlev has said in recent months that the IOC has no right to dictate how the IBA is run. He also said the IOC has no authority to determine Olympic qualification, saying any qualification tournaments must be run through the IBA.
Also Wednesday, the IBA filed a complaint to the Boxing Independent Integrity Unit against unnamed “individuals and entities involved in the creation of a rogue boxing organization” and claimed that those found guilty “will face consequences.”
The BIIU is a theoretically independent investigative department of the IBA itself. The U.S. was among several countries that pulled out of the IBA world championships earlier this year. World Boxing has an interim executive board that includes boxing leaders from Britain, Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden, New Zealand, and the Philippines. The body plans to select permanent leadership at its inaugural congress later this year.