(ATR) Six months into his presidency of the International Boxing Association (AIBA) Umar Kremlev promises continued reforms including the hiring of, and cooperation with, independent investigator Richard McLaren.
Kremlev insists that the sport must learn from its troubled past and in particular, clean up the corruption that has tarnished refereeing and judging, ultimately ensuring that boxers are afforded a fair fight.
The Russian-born president and former fighter, who took over the embattled federation after winning a Dec. 12, 2020 virtual election over six challengers, believes that the sport’s family, aided by independent investigators will work together to clean up its past history of corruption, poor governance and mismanagement.
"We all know what happened before us – it was a major, to put it bluntly crime, but we are not only doing away with our past – we have our vision to achieve serious results," Kremlev said, addressing media at a 90-minute news conference at the Beau Rivage Palace in Lausanne and virtually.
"In order for us to go forward and have a vision – one of the most important issues as of today, is referees," the AIBA president said. "We need to get independent experts to have a look and we must stop this crooked refereeing.
"What is important is that all the boxing family is behind us – we are working together."
AIBA has announced the hiring of McLaren, who has led investigations into Russian doping and corruption in the International Weightlifting Federation (IWF), to investigate corruption in the boxing federation. Independent governance expert Ulrich Haas has also been hired.
"We will in the future get involved authoritative, well-known, well-established, independent experts to help us clean up our sport," Kremlev asserted.
McLaren outlined the investigation procedure that will be implemented by his firm McLaren Global Sports Solutions (MGSS). The sports attorney informed that stage one will deal with corruption in the lead-up to Rio 2016 and the aftermath, whereas stage two will focus on AIBA management from 2006 to present specifically concerning acts of corruption, violation of sports policy, integrity in elections and manipulation of results.
"The goal here is to put some finality to the allegations that have plagued boxing for decades by putting events in the public domain and putting the past behind us," McLaren said, while noting the investigation is 100-percent independent.
"I’m working with a team of professionals from many disciplines who have decades of experience investigating high profile sports corruption."
"I can confirm to all of you that since starting this project on June 10, we have received to date, excellent cooperation from AIBA including access to their electronic information along with other satisfying documents and other requests that have been made.
"It’s our job to uncover AIBA and find out what the truth is and help them engage of the difficult process of self reform."
McLaren also requested confidential assistance from boxers, officials or journalists, who can come forward and provide information on past incidents and instances of unethical deeds.
He said MGSS expects to deliver the first report by the end of August.
Re-instatement for Paris 2024
Kremlev says the required measures are being taken and he is confident AIBA’s current suspension by the IOC will be rescinded in time for Paris 2024.
"The recommendations produced by IOC will be implemented by the end of this year," Kremlev said, while noting this is his main responsibility.
"Our team – the boxers will achieve this because we want AIBA to be the best.
"If our federation becomes one of the best, there will be no reason for IOC to exclude us.
"You’ll just have to look at how boxing is developing, we’ve completed the reforms and we’ve put a full staff to the task.
"The rest is to be decided by IOC, but the most important thing is to interact," Kremlev said.
According to the IOC, boxing’s Olympic status along with AIBA’s governance will be reviewed after the Tokyo Games and an Olympic boxing tournament that is being run by the IOC and its specially appointed Boxing Task Force (BTF).
Kremlev has already made substantial progress in resolving AIBA’s financial crisis, bringing aboard Russian energy giant Gazprom as a leading sponsor, while also paying off a $10 million debt to Azeri company Beckons LLC.
The IOC said last year that AIBA's overall debts had reached $16 million and could rise to as much as $29 million. Kremlev has vowed to secure revenues of $50 million over the next two years.
Roy Jones Jr. Reflects on Seoul 1988
Multiple times world champion Roy Jones Jr. says that he is still pained by his 1988 Seoul light middleweight gold medal bout, in which a certain victory was stolen away from him as his Korean challenger was unfairly declared the winner.
"I earned a gold medal that night in Seoul, Korea," Jones said. "It’s a feeling that’s never been digested in my heart and to have it stolen from me, at the end it was horrific.
"The fact still remains the same, the judges were crooked and they were banned and I’m sure they weren’t the only judges like that.
"If we don’t do things right now to fix these things, then the integrity of the sport will continue to decrease."
Jones Jr. said he will assist AIBA in any capacity to ensure that future Olympic boxers never face the same injustice that he did as a 19-year-old fighter representing the USA.
AIBA Rule Changes and Reforms
AIBA secretary general and two-time amateur and professional world champion István Kovács says the troubled federation has recently made huge steps across many areas since the IOC imposed suspension in 2019.
"Through our collaboration with the ITA [International Testing Agency], we have made excellent progress to what is our goal to make boxing an absolute doping free sport," Kovacs said..
"We have introduced new rules and regulations – we made a lot of changes in the scoring system, the vote review for example and the open scoring.
"It’s an amazing moment in our entire 75-year history.
"Also, we want to create a brand new scoring system and we want to create a very fair world ranking system."
Written and reported by Brian Pinelli
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