BFI joins World Boxing but claims it also remains affiliated to IBA

The Boxing Federation of India (BFI) has agreed to become a member of World Boxing on Friday.

Published : May 31, 2024 14:52 IST , New Delhi - 4 MINS READ

Ajay Singh, President Boxing Federation of India (left) with Boris van der Vorst, President of World Boxing (right).
Ajay Singh, President Boxing Federation of India (left) with Boris van der Vorst, President of World Boxing (right). | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Ajay Singh, President Boxing Federation of India (left) with Boris van der Vorst, President of World Boxing (right). | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

The Boxing Federation of India on Friday joined the breakaway World Boxing in a bid to “counter the threat” to the sport’s Olympic future but BFI President Ajay Singh said that the federation has “not really removed itself” from the suspended IBA either.

The International Olympic Committee has time and again reiterated its threat to leave boxing out of the 2028 Los Angeles Olympics if national federations continue to align themselves with the suspended International Boxing Association (IBA).

“It is absolutely vital to the sustainability of boxing that it retains its Olympics status, so we are delighted to join World Boxing,” Singh said in a press release.

But the BFI chief, who was appointed vice-president of the IBA last year, later told reporters in an online interaction that Indian boxers may still continue to take part in IBA tournaments.

“The situation is that while India has not really removed itself from IBA and may continue to take part in IBA Championships if we so desire, but it is important to build a world body which is aligned to the IOC,” Singh said.

“For us, the most important event of all is the Olympics, also the Asian Games, the Commonwealth Games, all of which fall under the purview of the IOC.” Citing the Court of Arbitration of Sports’ recent ruling against the IBA, Singh conceded that it would be “incredibly difficult” for it to ever get recognition from the IOC.

READ | India’s Nishant Dev qualifies for Paris 2024 Olympics

“I don’t want to deprive our boxers of any championship at all in the world. And we have a clear understanding with World Boxing that we will be able to participate in those (IBA) championships,” Singh added.

The CAS rejected the IBA’s appeal against the decision of the IOC Session to withdraw recognition of the IBA as the International Boxing Federation.

But if BFI doesn’t cut off its ties with IBA completely, Indian boxers may not be able to take part in the 2028 Games even if the sport is retained on the roster.

IOC, in a statement on Thursday, said “any boxer whose National Federation adheres to the IBA will not be able to participate in the Olympic Games LA28.” “The respective NOC will have to exclude such a National Boxing Federation from its membership.”

India’s role in setting up WB’s Asian Confederation

World Boxing, whose president is former IBA presidential candidate Boris van der Vorst, was launched in April 2023 and aims to ensure that boxing remains at the heart of the Olympic movement. On May 7, WB held its first formal meeting with the IOC which signalled the start of a formal collaboration between the two organisations. WB representatives have also been seen at the ongoing Olympic qualifiers in Bangkok, holding meetings with Asian federations backed by IOC officials, who are overseeing the event.

India’s membership application, which was approved by the BFI’s General Assembly, will be ratified by World Boxing’s Executive Board.

Currently, it has 30 members including USA, Great Britain, Netherlands, Wales, Scotland, Germany, Canada and Brazil but needs the support of more federations to meet the minimum criteria for recognition.

“We have a tight time-frame because to be included in the program, we need to get a provisional recognition before the end of this year. Boxing has to be included in the beginning of 2025,” Van der Vorst said.

“The principle is that we now have 30 members and we have to reach the number of 50. That’s the requirement for the Summer Olympic Games. There are other requirements as well,” he added.

The Dutchman hoped that India will play a key role in getting more Asian countries to join WB.

“India is a very important country in international boxing and we look forward to welcoming the BFI into the growing World Boxing family. This is a very exciting development which will significantly increase our presence in Asia and I look forward to working closely with the BFI in delivering our common goals,” he said.

The BFI aims to play a leading role in establishing an Asian Confederation and drive the recruitment of other National Federations in the region.

It also intends to actively participate in the work of World Boxing Committees and all Commissions as well as bidding to host world competitions and supporting World Boxing’s efforts to secure commercial partnerships and generate new income streams.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) had de-recognised the IBA in 2019 over long-standing financial, sports integrity, and governance issues.

Boxing at the 2024 Paris Olympics is set to be overseen by the IOC.

It will be the second successive time, after the Tokyo Olympics, that the IBA will have no involvement in bouts at the mega-event.

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