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  • ATR First: Deadline Looms for Boxing Fed Election


    (ATR) Interim AIBA President Gafur Rahimov could be the only candidate for election to lead the Olympic boxing federation.

    Gafur Rahimov has been associated with AIBA for years. (ATR)
    With the deadline to file papers Sept. 23, Rahimov is said to be the only candidate who has collected endorsements from at least 20 national boxing federations.

    There is the possibility that the AIBA Elections Commission overseeing the vote could extend the deadline by one day since it falls on a Sunday. That might allow the delivery of additional nomination forms that are needed by the only other potential candidate, Sirek Konakbayev, the head of the Asian Boxing Confederation and 1980 Olympic champion. He’s from Kazakhstan.

    If Konakbayev fails to be nominated, the stage is set for a month of controversy ahead of the November election at the AIBA Congress in Moscow. The IOC Ethics Commission has declared that Rahimov’s background and current status with the U.S. Treasury Department make him unsuitable for the federation presidency.

    The IOC has indicated that Rahimov’s election will cause more problems for the federation. Already the IOC has suspended payments to AIBA and has warned the sport could be cut from the Tokyo Olympics. Earlier this week, ATR was told by a source in Lausanne that the IOC will come down hard on AIBA if Rahimov is elected at the Nov. 2-3 congress in Moscow.

    European Chief Backs Challenger

    AIBA vp and head of European Boxing Franco Falcinelli, once a supporter of Rahimov, is urging his colleagues to consider the possible consequences of electing the Uzebekistan native.

    Franco Falcinelli is a long time leader in AIBA and is head of the Italian federation. (ATR)
    In the letter to fellow executive committee members seen by Around the Rings, Falcinelli said he had stepped aside as interim president in January to support Rahimov he promised “to clear all his personal problems and help AIBA to be financially clean”.

    Mounting IOC concerns about boxing’s governance and the fitness of Rahimov led Falcinelli to propose a Sept. 14 meeting with the interim AIBA chief, IOC officials and ASOIF to clarify more precisely what was needed to revamp the beleaguered federation. The meeting didn’t happen.

    “We must ensure a bright and concrete future with the Olympic movement for the sakes of our boxers,” Falcinelli says in the letter.

    “IOC remains a non-negotiable point against current AIBA leadership, and therefore, we are in a choice between the great risk of supporting Mr Gafur or promoting an alternative to lead AIBA,” he continues, explaining why he is backing Konakbayev.

    “Today, I am sincerely requesting for your time and thoughtful considerations on evaluating all circumstances surrounding us very carefully. Please be reminded that we, all our executive committee members, have the duties and responsibilities to follow the principles of our statutes, ethics codes and to protect the best interests of our boxers and members,” Falcinelli added, urging voting delegates to “respect the IOC ethics decisions following the IOC Charter”.

    Falcinelli Writes to Rahimov, Too

    Falcinelli has expressed his concerns directly to Rahimov in a separate letter, also seen by ATR. The boxing vice-president said the Sept 14 meeting was required to better understand “the status of boxing, AIBA and positions of IOC toward us and the congress”.

    Rahimov did not respond to the letter, he said. Neither has Rahimov responded to a request for comment from Around the Rings.

    Falcinelli’s comments appear to signal a shift in support away from Rahimov, who ATR has been told previously commanded significant backing on the executive committee.

    Speaking to Around the Rings, Falcinelli says Rahimov’s election is not guaranteed.

    “It is premature for anyone to say that Mr Gafur has the full support of EC [executive committee] members or not as none of the nominees have received the final confirmation from the election committee on October 3,” he said.

    “All EC members and national federations will start to judge whom they will support.”

    Olympic Boxer Would be AIBA First

    Falcinelli said he has known Konakbayev since the Moscow Olympics and that he has proven his credentials.

    He has “successfully led the Asian confederation” and been greatly involved in securing “enormous resources” in the promotion of boxing in Kazakhstan, including launching of one of the best World Series of Boxing teams in the world.

    “Serik would be the first boxer in the history of AIBA to lead Olympic boxing. Finally, a young president who was also a great champion of the ring,” Falcinelli told ATR.

    “And like all the great champions of sport in possession of two rare and extraordinary virtues: humility and loyalty. I consider him a beautiful image for our future.”

    Asked what was needed for AIBA to operate like a successful federation, Falcinelli told ATR: “AIBA must set systems to protect the health of athletes, prevent the scandals of technical results in competitions which are still going on.

    “We must find technical solutions, but also new resources that can derive from the redevelopment of the show and of the competitive format and, therefore, give a more attractive proposal to the large television market.”

    He labeled AIBA’s financial situation as “very unstable. We still have huge debts that must be immediately remedied to avoid bankruptcy”.

    Falcinelli also said more women should be promoted to leading positions within AIBA and national federations: “The gender equality movement must be enhanced”.

    The nominations for AIBA president due this Sunday will be vetted by the federation’s election committee before the Oct. 3 announcement of candidates.

    Reported by Mark Bisson

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