(ATR) Gafur Rakhimov, the Uzbek-born Russian businessman, has resigned as head of the International Boxing Association after a controversial 18-month reign.
Last month AIBA voted to prevent Gafur Rakhimov from returning as president. (AIBA)
In a July 15 letter to AIBA Executive Committee members, seen by Around the Rings
, Rakhimov claimed “we have made significant progress in improving our organization” – despite the IOC axing AIBA from the Tokyo Olympics last month, citing his role and reforms failures.
Rakhimov said he was “grateful to everyone who showed confidence in me and gave me an opportunity to make a contribution to reforming AIBA”, explaining that he was formally resigning to focus on fighting legal battles.
“Now, I made the decision to resign from the position of AIBA president and am ready to explain why I made such a decision in order to avoid defamatory interpretations,” he said.
“There was an urgent need for my continued presence in the defense process of the case, which is related to the politicized accusations against me.”
In a separate statement on the AIBA website, he added: “This most difficult transitional period in the history of AIBA coincides, unfortunately, with a period of my growing involvement in the processes aimed at protecting my honour and dignity against politically motivated and false accusations originating from the past.
“These processes now require me to be constantly present in legal and other proceedings in order to speed up the clearing of my name from these false accusations.”
Rakhimov, who took over from C.K. Wu as interim president in January 2018, was elected to the post full-time in November 2018 amid strong opposition from the IOC. But he stepped aside in March as the IOC stepped up its warnings about boxing’s Olympic future, with Mohamed Moustahsane taking over as interim AIBA president.
IOC president Thomas Bach and senior Olympic committee officials had warned AIBA about appointing Rakhimov due to his inclusion on a U.S. Treasury Department list for alleged connections to Russian transnational criminal organizations.
He is described as “one of the leaders of Uzbek organized crime”. Rakhimov has repeatedly denied the allegations.
While Rakhimov’s decision to quit the presidency will be welcomed by the IOC, it was a case of when not if he would go.
Last month, boxing federation officials voted to prevent Rakhimov returning as AIBA president. Federation leaders removed bylaw 16.3 in the IF’s statutes that would have allowed Rakhimov to return as president after his self-suspension.
AIBA remains in dire financial straits as it searches for a new leader, with further reforms necessary to get back in the IOC’s good books.
The IOC Session, convening last month in Lausanne, ratified an executive board decision to ban AIBA from any involvement in the Tokyo 2020 Olympics after it failed to overhaul a series of governance and financial issues pivotal to maintaining its status as the Olympic boxing body.
AIBA will elect a new president at its Extraordinary Congress in Lausanne on Nov. 15.
Reported by Mark Bisson
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