Boxing must stay in the Olympic Games and the International Boxing Association (IBA) will do everything for it to happen but the sport also wants respect and will not be run by third parties, IBA President Umar Kremlev said.
Kremlev told Reuters in an interview on Tuesday that any decision to exclude boxing based solely on feelings of revenge against the IBA and its Russian president, and without any direct consultations, was “even worse than terrorism.”
The International Olympic Committee’s Executive Board will meet on Wednesday to discuss the state of reforms by the IBA with the sport’s Olympic future in the balance.
“We would like IOC President Thomas Bach and all the executive board members and IOC members to know that we want to be part of the Olympics,” Kremlev said.
“We will do everything to achieve that but we don’t want to be dictated and governed by third persons. We will not let it happen. We would like to be respected.”
The IOC suspended the IBA in 2019 over governance, finance, refereeing and ethical issues and did not involve it in running the boxing events at the 2021 Tokyo Olympics.
It has already provisionally excluded the sport from the Los Angeles 2028 Olympics and has demanded immediate reforms but has warned repeatedly the IBA was not doing enough.
In an IBA report sent to the IOC recently the association blamed the Olympic body for intransigence and false statements.
It also said the IOC completely ignored the involvement of former boxing boss and then-IOC member CK Wu, who was banned for life by the AIBA, now the IBA, in 2018, for the association’s financial and governance problems dating back to 2016.
“I would like to ask ... why did the IOC keep its eyes shut and keep silent (over CK Wu’s involvement),” Kremlev said. “The current crisis situation and the past scandals were all situations created by the member of the IOC, Mr CK Wu.”
The IOC has not sanctioned CK Wu, who in 2020 resigned from the Olympic body citing medical reasons.
Taiwan’s Wu could not immediately be reached by Reuters but he has always denied any wrongdoing.
“We would like everyone to know that the IBA has accomplished 95% of the recommendations,” Kremlev added. “We have wiped out the debts, ensured financial stability...”
He said the IBA was now offering prize money at its world championships while also supporting dozens of smaller national federations in the development of the sport.
“Our medals are also produced from pure gold to prove that everything is pure, clear and sincere,” he said, in a thinly-veiled dig at the IOC whose Olympic gold medals contain only small amounts of the precious metal.
Kremlev also called on the IOC to start a direct dialogue and not “speak through correspondents.”
According to the IBA report, repeated efforts by IBA officials to meet with IOC officials were ignored.
The IOC has repeatedly warned the IBA more needs to be done. Other issues such as a sponsorship deal with Russian energy giant Gazprom that has since been terminated further complicated the IBA’s position with Russia invading Ukraine last year.
“We are the home of boxing. We would like the IOC to also achieve this principle of becoming the home of the Olympic movement,” Kremlev said.
He noted that other problems like refereeing and competition issues had been resolved and denied Russia’s war in Ukraine, which Moscow call a ‘special military operation’, had added to the IBA’s problems as the association had a responsibility towards all member countries, including Ukraine and Russia.
Kremlev, a Russian businessman with close ties to the Kremlin, said those critical of the IBA should attend tournaments and witness the “high level” of organisation.
Kremlev has been in charge since 2020 but the IBA’s actions in past years have led to the creation of a breakaway group called World Boxing with several countries having left his organisation to join it.
“I would like (some sports officials) to be fully engaged and cooperative with us and leave out personal ambitions,” he said.
“If boxing is just excluded from the Olympic family without any negotiations, meetings, or participation as observers, if the decision is to take revenge and punish the IBA, it is even worse than terrorism,” he said.
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