Boxing federations in the Americas met in Panama City (ATR)
(ATR) A new name and a marketing strategy to avoid bankruptcy are among the fixes being proposed for AIBA, the international federation for boxing now under IOC suspension.
Representatives from three dozen national boxing federations in the Americas heard the plans in a closed door meeting in Panama January 18.
The IOC suspended AIBA in 2019 over a range of issues including governance, ethics, refereeing and judging as well as finance. The unprecedented action removed AIBA as the organizing Federation for the Olympic boxing tournament at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. Since last June the IOC has taken over control of the qualification process for boxers to compete in Tokyo at the Olympics. The IOC will also maintain control over the operation of the competition during the Games.
The IOC has provided a roadmap for AIBA to follow to restore its standing. The IOC guidelines insist on new statutes and fresh leadership for the Federation. Also of concern is the debt of AIBA, reported to be in the range of $18 million.
The meeting in Panama is the first of five continental forums in the next month laying the groundwork for what is supposed to be a top to bottom renovation of the Federation .
In keeping with IOC demands for new leadership at the federation interim AIBA president Mohamed Moustahsane confirmed that he will not be a candidate to serve on a permanent basis.
He says 20 major changes to the federation statutes are being proposed in response to the IOC criticisms. On January 22, the Statute Reform Committee will meet in Xiamen, China to draft the first version of the changes.
A Board of Directors is said to be one of the proposals along with a name change from AIBA to the World Boxing Association.
Delegates at the meeting in Panama confirm to Around the Rings
that AIBA leaders faced sharp criticism from their colleagues in the Americas, particularly over the judging at the Rio 2016 Olympics. Delegates at the meeting acknowledged that judging issues in boxing at the Olympics have a long history, well before Rio 2016.
Brian Lewis, president of the Association of Caribbean Olympic Committees and the Trinidad and Tobago Olympic Committee, told delegates that national and continental federations will play an important role in reforming the Olympic boxing federation from the grassroots.
There was no representation from the IOC task force which issued the recommendations for AIBA to follow for reinstatement. Earlier this month at the IOC Session in Lausanne, task force chair Nenad Lalovic, president of the World Wrestling Union criticized the slow pace of the reform process. Moustahsane said he disagrees
March 20 is the date set for an extraordinary congress to approve changes (ATR)
with that assessment. He says a recent exchange of messages with Lalovic indicated support for the continental forums as a path toward reform.
Moustahsane says he believes the Federation is moving in the right direction.
“For the first time AIBA is coming to the continents," he said.
AIBA is targeting March 20 as the date for an extraordinary congress to approve statute changes. That will clear the way to elect new leadership later this year.
Financial Rescue Needed
"Only AIBA can save AIBA," Moustahsane observed about the financial morass facing the federation.
RBF secretary general Umar Kremlev is taking the lead in finding solutions to the federation’s financial woes as head of a marketing strategy committee,
Last year he proposed a donation of $18 million to get AIBA’s finances out of the red. The IOC has raised questions about the details of the donation, which has yet to be made.
Kremlev says his intent is to help the federation achieve financial independence. He tells ATR
that thanks to his efforts the threat of bankruptcy “does not exist”.
He says he is not a candidate for president. But he says if there is support for him among the 140+ national federations, he would consider the possibility.
New Tournament Proposal
Kremlev is proposing a new tournament to be launched in November with more than $1 million in prize money.
This World Cup of boxing would include the participation of 16 teams from around the globe. It would be a variation on the World Series of Boxing, the now defunct professional series organized by AIBA from 2011 to 2018.
Kremlev says the potential income is significant . Besides ticket sales, a global audience of 50 million is estimated through TV coverage and social media channels.
"You can't depend solely on Olympic Solidarity,” says Kremlev about the share of IOC revenue distributed among the international federations represented at the Games. In the case of AIBA, its share of revenue from Tokyo 2020 would be $17 million. But under terms of the IOC suspension, AIBA will receive none of that money until it’s back in the good graces of the IOC.
Kremlev says the new championship is a way for the federation to achieve financial stability.
“We must develop a program with the sponsors to achieve a financially sustainable AIBA”.
Kremlev envisions a sports property for AIBA “better than the Olympic Games”.
Reported from Panama City by Miguel Hernandez. .
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