Russia’s Umar Kremlev elected AIBA president

Umar Kremlev AIBA amateur boxing
Russia's Umar Kremlev becomes AIBA president. Is he the man to save the beleaguered organisation?

AIBA, the governing body for international amateur boxing, has elected a new president. Russia’s Umar Kremlev has been chosen to head the beleaguered organisation.

In the final round of voting in the remote election on December 12, Kremlev won 86 votes of member federations, to Boris Van der Vorst’s 45 votes and Mohamed Moustahsane, the interim president’s 19 votes. There were five abstentions.

He has to address AIBA’s precarious financial situation, its need for governance reform and to combat corruption and to restore its position in the Olympic movement. The International Olympic Committee suspended AIBA from administering the boxing tournament and the qualification events for the Tokyo Games. A new Boxing Task Force, rather than AIBA, is running the qualifiers and the boxing tournament at the Tokyo Olympics next year.

For the 2024 Olympics boxing’s athlete quota has also been reduced by 34 places and while the number of women’s divisions will be increased to seven, from six, the number of men’s divisions will be reduced from eight to seven. The weight classes are due to be set in the first quarter of next year.

Whether Kremlev is the right man to address the challenges AIBA faces remains to be seen. His offer last year to wipe out AIBA’s debts only raised serious questions from the IOC, which pointed out the lack of clarity on the origin those funds and that background checks on the origin of funds from external parties is part of the basic standards of good governance expected from international federations.

But in Kremlev’s opening remarks at becoming president, Kremlev did at least draw attention to restoring AIBA’s Olympic status. “We have to unite together and work with one mission, and one mission alone: rebuilding the credibility and trust that AIBA once had in the minds of sports people worldwide and that includes, of course, restoring AIBA’s Olympic status,” Kremlev said. “Getting rid of AIBA’s debt will be the first priority. As I promised when I announced my run for the presidency, I will clear this debt in the first six months. My administration will aim to raise $50 million within two years, all of which will be used to rebuild AIBA.

“Boxing is the sport of fighters. Our fight today is against financial debt, against incompetence, against corruption, against doping, against poor training, and against poor safety. Strengthening AIBA’s governance structures, and ensuring our checks and balances work, will be the focus of my tenure as president.” 

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