(ATR) International Boxing Association president C.K. Wu tells Around the Rings that elections will be clean and controversy scarceat next week’s quadrennial congress.
"It absolutely has to be a clean election," Wu told ATR before specifically ruling out any chance of manipulation, bribery or cheating of any kind.
Only this week did AIBA get the go-ahead to hold its Nov. 1-3 gathering as planned.
The Lausanne Civil Court ruled Thursday against 13 national federations alleging that the July decision to relocate the meeting from Busan, South Korea to Almaty, Kazakhstan was taken improperly.
The suit also alleged that AIBA acted against its statutes by barring dozens of federations from participating in the congress – and presidential election – for non-payment of AIBA dues, about $250 a year.
At the 2006 congress, federations facing the same consequence were allowed to pay dues on the scene in Santo Domingo, a grace AIBA insists won’t be offered this time around.
Tuesday’s election will essentially confirm Wu for a second term as AIBA president. He unseated 20-year incumbent Anwar Chowdhry of Pakistan in 2006, promising to clean house at the embattled federation.
Wu sits unopposed after English federation chief Paul King failed earlier this month to collect the required number of signatures to be nominated as a candidate.
King needed 20 national federations to back him but only mustered four, a number Wu says pales in comparison to his own 84.
"That [differential] shows who wants to have the reform changes and who wants to go back," he said.
"Nobody wanted to go back to the old days, and everybody looks ahead for the future."
Last Time Around
Wu has until last week kept quiet about his impending reelection. The IOC member from Chinese Taipei battled the odds four years ago, with an entrenched incumbent such as Chowdhry seldom voted out of the presidency of an international federation.
The coup came on a wild election day that began with the discovery of a decomposing body of the delegate from Maliin a hotel elevator shaft (still an unsolved homicide) and ended with Chowdhry’s daughter pushing the 83-year-old ex-president away in his wheelchair.
The election process was messy from the get-go when AIBA delegates had to surrender their passports to gain entry into the hall, forcing a two-hour delay in the start of the session.
Later in the day, another hour was spent by the 160 voting delegates retrieving their passports, which were required to be shown as each received a paper ballot.
In between, a raucous session ensued over the actual process of voting, with supporters of Wu railing against moves that could have been an advantage to Chowdhry.
The final tally was a tight 82-78. Chowdhry left the congress without comment and was a year later banished for life by AIBA.
"So Many Many Rules"
The organization Wu inherited four years ago was under fire from the IOC for bad judging and allegations of corruption.
The IOC suspended more than $1 million in TV rights payments due to AIBA in 2004 and was close to booting the sport from the Beijing Olympics.
As part of his reforms, Wu won changes to the selection of judges and referees for AIBA events to eliminate the possibility of fixed bouts.
"Now we have a new culture established," Wu told ATR, stressing the "so many many rules," procedures and codes of ethics and discipline that now govern the once corrupt sport.
"What I was trying to do is really establish our organization to have all the necessary rules and regulations and transparency," he said.
"Those changes and reforms in the last four years everybody recognizes make AIBA a totally new organization."
Evidence of the sport’s sea change, Wu said, lies in last month’s Women’s World Championships.
The two-week tournament saw nearly 260 bouts but not a single protest.
"Everything’s open, and everything’s fair play," Wu said, adding that the high level of competition in Barbados is proof of the sport’s popularity.
Women’s boxing will make its Olympic debut at London 2012.
A Taste of What’s to Come
In the meantime, other signs of growth remind Wu how far AIBA has come under his presidency and how far the federation still has to go.
Boxing academies around the globe now train athletes and officials, and the Road to World Championships program helps teach coaches in emerging countries, particularly those in Africa, Oceania and the Caribbean.
Wu told ATR such works-in-progress are exactly why he seeks another four years at the helm.
Perhaps no project draws the 64-year-old back to the presidency more than the World Series of Boxing, set to launch Nov. 19.
The 12-team league allows boxers to compete professionally but retain their Olympic eligibility. AIBA, meanwhile, is paid franchise fees to fund its development projects.
"National federations benefit, boxers benefits, coaches benefit and judges benefit," Wu said. "This is good for everyone in boxing."
Delegates at next week’s congress will get an early taste of WSB action Sunday evening when the Astana Arlans square off against the Istanbulls in an exhibition bout. More than 100 national federations are slated to attend the fight at Almaty's Sport Palace.
The Main Event
Also on tap in Almaty are meetings of AIBA’s Executive Committee, general assemblies of the five confederations and, of course, the main event.
Tuesday’s elections feature unopposed candidates for three of the five continental vice presidencies, two seeking the Asian seat and no candidate for Oceania, for which an appointment will be made.
Wu said the tightest races will likely be those for the Executive Committee. There are 53 candidates vying for only 19 open seats, none of which will be unfairly won.
"This is an absolutely clean AIBA election," Wu said a second time, then a third for good measure.
Competition will be certain come Tuesday. Controversy, the president insists, is a ghost of AIBA’s past.
Written by Matthew Grayson.