AIBA president Gafur Rakhimov intends to step aside. He has initiated proceedings to find an Interim president to take his place.
“I have informed the AIBA Executive Committee of my intent to step aside as AIBA President in accordance with the AIBA Statutes and Bylaws, which allow the President to renounce to exercise his powers and to be replaced by an Interim President. I have called an AIBA Executive Committee’s teleconference meeting over the weekend to address this matter and initiate the process of appointing an Interim President,” he said in a statement. “I am convinced that all the good initiatives that have been implemented this last year will serve as a foundation that will continue to strengthen our sport in the future.”
Rakhimov has been at the centre of events as boxing, buffeted by controversies, has battled to retain its place as an Olympic sport. The International Olympic Committee has threatened boxing, and AIBA the body the governs the amateur sport, with possible expulsion from Tokyo 2020, if it did not manage to resolve governance issues as well as improving its drug testing compliance and officiating in competition events.
Rakhimov’s position as president has been under scrutiny as the Uzbek has been sanctioned by the US Treasury Department. He maintains his innocence and points out that he has not been found guilty of any crimes. “Once again, as I have stated before on numerous occasions, I attest and confirm that the allegations against me were fabricated and based on politically motivated lies; I trust that the truth will prevail. Nevertheless, I have always said that I would never put myself above boxing, and as President, I have a duty to do everything in my power to serve our sport and our athletes,” he said. “I truly believe that the work done this last year has revitalized and energized AIBA and boxing.
“However, despite these efforts, there have been many discussions these last few months about the future of Olympic boxing. A lot of that was mainly focused on politics and not sport. While I had truly hoped and believed that sport and politics could be separated, and that the good work and positive changes being infused into AIBA would be recognised, the politically based discussions have put into question the progress being made throughout the AIBA organisation.”
He highlighted the progress AIBA has made on a number of issues. “Our improved governance policies which now puts AIBA among the top half of all Summer international federations [IFs]. Our commitment to the fight for clean sport which resulted in AIBA being among the first IFs to partner with the ITA and enabled AIBA to become fully compliant with the WADA Code. Our stable financial situation which is the result of the implementation of sound, disciplined budget practices and regained trust from many partners. And last but not least, our successful implementation of a new refereeing and judging system which has received praise from our Olympic partners,” he said.
“Having dedicated myself to the great sport of boxing and the Olympic movement for over 25 years, I have always put the well-being of our sport and our athletes above all else. That is especially true this last year, having spent countless days and nights working hard to ensure that our sport finally broke free of the bad past to become stronger and healthier than ever before.”
This would appear to be a significant development as AIBA has worked to preserve boxing’s status as an Olympic sport. It is now for the IOC to decide whether boxing will remain an Olympic event for Tokyo 2020 and for the weight classes and qualification process to be confirmed. But it looks like AIBA is finding a way forward for boxing.