The future of Olympic boxing was plunged into further doubt in Yerevan on Sunday as delegates of the sport’s world governing body, the International Boxing Association (IBA), voted emphatically against permitting a leadership challenge to incumbent president Umar Kremlev.
After a 45-minute delay caused by a power cut in the Armenian capital, the Russian was backed to continue by 106 votes to 36, in a verdict widely assumed to shatter hopes of the sport securing a place on the programme for Los Angeles 2028. Afterwards Kremlev delivered a bullish speech in which he appeared to prioritise a new, post-Olympic path for the organisation, insisting: “We shouldn’t say Olympic boxing, we should say IBA boxing.”
Daily Mirror/Andy Stenning)
The Extraordinary Congress was held because Dutch delegate Boris van der Vorst had successfully appealed against an earlier decision to prevent him challenging Kremlev’s leadership in May. Van der Vorst was deemed to have broken campaign rules by the Boxing Independent Integrity Unit, but the decision was subsequently overturned by the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Lausanne.
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has already expressed “grave concerns” over the IBA under Kremlev’s leadership, and has left boxing off the initial list of sports for the Los Angeles Games. The IBA is barred from organising the Paris Olympics in 2024, where boxing will be administered by an IOC-appointed task force, following the example set at the delayed Tokyo Games in 2021.
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However, the IOC’s initial decision indicates that it has little appetite to repeat that process for 2028, and it will require a remarkable shift in governance to convince Olympic chiefs that boxing deserves to return to the programme. In a speech laced with apparent barbs towards the IOC, Kremlev told delegates: “I am working for you, not a side organisation,” and added: “No one else should have influence on the organisation.”
The IOC has been approached for comment.