Ireland Steps into World Boxing Row

The Irish Amateur Boxing Association stepped up into the spotlight of world sporting politics on Friday when issuing a statement about how it had voted in the election of the new President of the World Governing Body, the AIBA.

“The IABA can confirm that it voted for the defeated Kazak candidate Serik Konakbayev in the AIBA Presidential election last week,” said the statement.

“It is unusual for the IABA, as is the case with most national federations, to reveal how they voted in an election but given, the intense commentary surrounding this particular election it was felt by the Board of Directors and Central Council, that it was in the best interests of Irish boxing to do so in this instance.”

That intense commentary has centred on IOC questions over the suitability of Gafur Rakhimov from Uzbekistan who won the election. A threat to Boxing’s inclusion in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics was not lessened by his election with an IOC spokesman saying that “The IOC has made it clear from the outset that there are issues of grave concern with AIBA regarding judging, finance, and the anti-doping programme, and with governance – which includes but is not limited to the election of the AIBA President.”

There has been suggestions of a breakaway group being formed if necessary in order to maintain Boxing’s participation at the Olympic Games.

Ireland appears to placed itself firmly in the camp of any future break, though there will be intense discussion between all the parties ahead of any move with the new President expressing his hope that whatever needs to be done in order to maintain Boxing’s Olympic status will be done.

The election saw Rakhimov voted for by 86, and against by 48 of 134 delegate votes.

“Our decision was made following careful consideration of what was in the best interests of the sport and without any further information on the President other than that what we have learned through the media,” continued the IABA statement.

“The IABA remain concerned about the future Olympic status of boxing given the outcome of the election particularly, given that boxing remains Ireland’s most successful Olympic sport ever. We acknowledge that there remains significant confusion in the aftermath of the AIBA election but are hopeful that the International Olympic Committee (the “IOC”) and AIBA can reach a resolution on the issues between them. The IABA is committed to assisting in any way possible to achieve that end.”

“We are comforted by a number of factors not least, the IOC’s commitment to the athletes, the boxers, that they will not be penalised as well as the AIBA President’s comments that if a choice has to be made between boxing in the Olympics and one man that there is no choice.”

Ireland’s six-strong team for the World Women’s Elite Championship set out from Dublin for India yesterday. Michaela Walsh, Kellie Harrington, Ceire Smith, Amy Broadhurst, Grainne Walsh and Aoife O’Rourke are being accompanied by team manager Bernard Dunne as well as coaches Zaur Antia and Dmitry Dimitruk.

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