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  • AIBA's Future Linked to Its Next Leader


    (ATR) International Boxing Association (AIBA) executive committee member Emilia Grueva believes Azerbaijani Suleyman Mikayilov could be the right person to lead the embattled sports federation into the future.

    Suleyman Mikayilov is running for AIBA president. (Suleyman Mikayilov)
    Mikayilov, 58, was the first candidate to declare his intentions for the AIBA presidency, the election tentatively scheduled to be conducted virtually on December 12-13. The former boxer and lawyer recently addressed a letter to AIBA’s 145 national federations calling for unity and outlining plans to rescue the federation, which has been suspended by the IOC since 2019.

    “He has the potential to be the type of leader that AIBA needs and he has so much knowledge on boxing as he was a boxer in his youth,” says Grueva, a fellow AIBA executive committee member and a vice president of the Bulgarian boxing federation. “I was really impressed by what I read in his letter to the federations and from my recent talks with him

    “Straight away you have someone with an understanding of some of the challenges our young boxers will be facing at this stage of their careers.”

    Grueva concedes AIBA’s greatest challenge is resolving outstanding debts and finding new sources of financial streams. The IOC cut off funding and suspended AIBA from governing the Tokyo 2020 boxing tournament following years of chronic problems with finance, governance, doping, and refereeing and judging.

    “AIBA remains crippled by debts and is basically non-functioning at present,” Grueva tells Around the Rings. “There are no funds and no staff to carry out the operations of the organization. The longer we remain without a credible leader in charge, the bleaker the future will be for AIBA and the boxers around the world.

    “The biggest issue, as I have said, is for AIBA to elect a president who has a realistic plan to pay off outstanding debts – and find the funds to invest in the sport and even rescue us from the IOC suspension which will be the main duty as the new president.

    Emilia Grueva is a member of the AIBA executive committee. (Emilia Grueva)
    “Our sport needs investment now. In reality, the IOC aren’t going to provide funds for our sport until its suspension is lifted and until after the Paris Games in 2024, so not only do we need to clear debts but also offer a sustainable platform in place of funding to take us through the coming years,” she said.

    Mikayilov, who boxed for the Soviet Union in his youth and has served as an international referee and judge since 1996, has vowed that he has a game plan to eliminate AIBA’s millions in debt.

    “At present, I do not know any more about the important details of his plans, but it is good that he is consulting with the federations,” Grueva says. “I am looking forward to having a chance to contribute to his manifesto and to take it from there.

    “We need the right ‘Plan and Leadership’ for the sake of all our federations and the boxers themselves.”

    Election Uncertainty

    Grueva remains skeptical that the December 12-13 virtual elections decreed by AIBA interim president Mohamed Moustahsane will move forward on those dates. Approval of much needed new constitutions is also planned.

    Interim president Mohamed Moustahsane has yet to announce if he is running. (AIBA)
    The Bulgarian boxing federation vice president said she was present in meetings with Moustahsane “where he committed to having this important election virtually on these dates along with the approval for the new constitutions.”

    “But as of today, we (the national federations) haven’t received any information nor documentation about the election process including how they will take place or any other details,” she said. “I do not even have any information who will be the chairman of the Election Committee.”

    The female executive committee member noted that according to AIBA statutes, October 2 is the deadline for the national federations to receive all election related documents.

    Grueva says the “lack of communication by AIBA is a huge concern” and failure to proceed accordingly with the election could lead to legal action from the national federations.

    It also remains to be seen whether Moustahsane will declare his candidacy for permanent AIBA presidential status.

    “There may be some people within AIBA who would benefit from a delay to elect the new president now, but certainly it’s not for the good of the organization,” she said.

    Grueva opines on what she believes needs to happen next for AIBA to overcome the daunting obstacles and struggles that it currently faces.

    “We must get AIBA functioning again as a world class governing body,” she said. “To do that, we need a future leader in place who is both competent and passionate about our sport who can greatly contribute his innovative ideas and tools including the finance means.

    “We need to have this election in December and begin the process of reform with the new president immediately.”

    Homepage photo: AIBA

    Written by Brian Pinelli

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