The International Boxing Association has been told it cannot participate in the 2020 Olympics after years of financial chaos and allegations of corrupt judging.
While boxing remains on the program, the IOC will organize the competition itself.
Taiwanese architect C.K. Wu, an IOC member since 1988, beats then-83-year-old AIBA president Anwar Chowdhry by four votes in a hard-fought contest. Chowdhry had faced criticism over unusual refereeing decisions and butted heads with the IOC prior to his defeat.
AIBA drops the word “amateur” from its name, becoming simply the International Boxing Association, as Wu looks to push the organization into the professional ranks.
AIBA launches its first pro competition, the World Series of Boxing, with amateur fighters paid salaries to compete for franchises around the world. Despite millions of dollars in AIBA funding and a $10 million loan from Azerbaijani company Benkons, the WSB struggles to gain spectator interest in a crowded market. Money-losing franchises and the Benkons loan soon start to strain AIBA finances.
Women’s boxing debuts at the Olympics, with Nicola Adams of Britain winning the first gold medal. The men’s competitions are plagued by controversial decisions. One AIBA referee is expelled after an Azerbaijani fighter wins a bout despite falling to the canvas six times, and another referee is suspended after disqualifying an Iranian boxer.
The once strictly amateur AIBA is now a promoter for professionals after launching the AIBA Pro Boxing brand. The events offer Olympic spots but fail to win much of an audience. AIBA quietly drops the scheme in June 2016.
Olympic boxing erupts in controversy in Rio de Janeiro, with Irish fighter Michael Conlan accusing AIBA of corruption after losing a decision to a Russian. AIBA suspends all referees and judges involved in the Olympic tournament and says some decisions were “not at the level expected,” but the results stand. Pro boxers fight in the Olympics for the first time after AIBA rushes through rule changes, but none comes close to a medal.
AIBA’s board members rebel against Wu after details emerge of runaway spending and mounting debts. After a bitter power struggle which briefly causes staff to be locked out of AIBA’s own headquarters, Wu resigns in November. Concerned by the infighting and opaque finances, the IOC stops payments to AIBA, worsening its financial crisis.
Uzbekistani businessman Gafur Rakhimov becomes interim AIBA president in January after Franco Falcinelli steps aside. Vowing to clear AIBA’s debts, he runs for and wins the presidency in November despite repeated IOC warnings. The IOC objects to Rakhimov because he is under sanctions imposed by the United States Treasury over his alleged ties to heroin trafficking. Rakhimov denies any wrongdoing.
Rakhimov steps aside in March, but keeps the right to return later in the year. An IOC inquiry flags AIBA’s large debts, “serious governance issues” and boxers’ “lack of confidence” in judges. AIBA executive director Tom Virgets warns the federation faces bankruptcy. On June 26, the IOC removes AIBA from any role running boxing at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.