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Boxing

Explained: Why Boxing Federation of India break away from IBA

The BFI has left the banned IBA to join the yet-to-be-recognised World Boxing as the sport's future at the 2028 Olympics remains uncertain.

Explained: Why Boxing Federation of India break away from IBA
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REPRESENTATIVE PHOTO: Boxing gloves on the sidelines of a boxing bout. 

By

Sudipta Biswas

Updated: 1 Jun 2024 12:20 PM GMT

India became the latest country to turn their back on the International Boxing Association (IBA) and joined the breakaway body of World Boxing, backed by the United States of America, to save boxing from being excluded from the 2028 Los Angeles Olympics.

Cost of exclusion

Formed in 2023 after the IOC banned IBA, helmed by Russian Umar Kremlev, over governance, finance, refereeing and ethical issues, World Boxing seems to be on course to revive amateur boxing's future as an Olympic sport.

Boxing, at the Tokyo Olympics, was conducted by an ad-hoc task force formed by the IOC as it did not involve IBA in the Games. Similarly, at the Paris Olympics, boxing will be conducted under the supervision of the IOC.

However, when it looked like boxing might be excluded from the 2028 Los Angeles Olympics, World Boxing has steadily appeared as a credible alternative to IBA as the sport's administrative body.

In April this year, the IBA lost its appeal against the IOC ban at the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Lausanne, Switzerland.

At that time, the IOC called for the formation of a new body to administer boxing by early 2025, or else boxing, part of every Olympic Games since 1904, would be at risk of exclusion from the Olympic roaster, for the first time in more than 100 years.

If out of the Olympics, the biggest sporting spectacle on the earth, boxing may have to deal with serious repercussions. Any absence from the Olympics could erode the popularity of boxing, demoralising the boxers, and eventually take away their sole purpose of competing.

How promising is the emergence of World Boxing?

However, there is a glimmer of hope. In this political slugfest being played behind the doors, World Boxing, backed by the host country of the 2028 Olympics, stepped into the contention, pitching for its recognition from the IOC to let boxing remain a part of the Olympic Games.

But the future is not as promising as it might look. With only 29 member nations, including India, joining the World Boxing, headquartered in Renens, Switzerland, of IBA's 197 members, it has not yet emerged as a solid alternative to the IBA.

The majority of member nations are still rallying behind the IBA, a rich body sponsored by Russian energy company Gazprom. With member associations enjoying hefty monetary allowances from the association and medal-winning boxers being rewarded handsomely, the IBA remain in a strong position despite the ban by the IOC.

World Boxing gives rousing welcome to BFI

But India's entry into World Boxing is a shot in the arm for the World Boxing.

Justifying their decision to join World Boxing, BFI president Ajay Singh, in a press release, stated, "It is absolutely vital to the sustainability of boxing that it retains its Olympics status."

"So we are delighted to join World Boxing and look forward to working closely with the Executive Board and our fellow members to shape the future development of the sport and deliver a brighter future for boxers across the world,” Singh said, adding, "We also wish to be at the forefront of the formation and hosting of a new Asian confederation to ensure boxing continues to expand and grow its membership on the continent."

Noting the development as a major progress in getting recognition from the IOC, World Boxing president Boris Van der Vorst said, “India is a very important country in international boxing and we look forward to welcoming the BFI into the growing World Boxing family. This is a very exciting development which will significantly increase our presence in Asia and I look forward to working closely with the BFI in delivering our common goals."

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