AIBA Punches Back Against Challenges -- On the Scene

(ATR) IOC sport director Kit McConnell will observe and speak at the extraordinary Congress in Dubai for the Olympic boxing federation.

(ATR) Leadership and financial crises for the International Boxing Association near resolution as the federation prepares for an Extraordinary Congress in Dubai.

International Olympic Committee sport director Kit McConnell will be on hand for the one-day congress Jan. 27. Around the Rings is told McConnell will make a presentation to the 112 National Federations of AIBA defending the IOC's position of eliminating two weight classes from men's Olympic boxing.

An IOC Executive Board decision in June 2017 cut the number of men’s Olympic boxing weight classes from 10 to eight for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, while increasing the number of women’s weight classes to five and the number of boxers in each class to 16 (from 12).

The federation will draw a hard line to seek a reversal of this decision, AIBA staff tell ATR in Dubai. AIBA officials say the safety of boxers is at stake. Under the revised weight classes, boxers could compete against much heavier opponents which AIBA says can increase the chances of concussions.

ATR has seen a drafted letter to be signed by all National Federations in attendance supporting the reversal of the decision and citing several factors.

Primarily, AIBA wants to tell the IOC to let each sport govern its own rules, as is outlined under Rule 26 of the Olympic Charter. While AIBA is a proponent of developing women’s boxing, ATR is told that as it currently stands there are not enough elite women’s boxers to field an 80-athlete Olympic tournament.

Governance Review

Since former AIBA president C.K. Wu’s resignation on Nov. 20, AIBA execs have been working to rectify the messy legal and financial situations that nearly caused the federation to go bankrupt.

AIBA has leaned on interim president Franco Falcinelli for seven months to oversee this time of transition for the federation. At the Extraordinary EC meeting in Rome last week, Falcinelli intimated to ATR that there is a likelihood he could be replaced as interim president during the Jan. 27 congress.

The murky statutes that stipulate the order of succession in the case of a presidential resignation will also be on the table for debate during the congress. ATR is told that there may be some minor statute revisions on Saturday.

In a major step towards cleaning up governance shortcomings, the federation has engaged Lausanne-based Burson Marsteller Sport for a full review.

The review is expected to be completed by July when AIBA executives meet again to consider the proposals. Included in the review will be the process of selecting AIBA’s next president, with a vote scheduled for the Nov. 2-3 AIBA Congress in Moscow. The governance review proposals will also be submitted at this congress for a vote by the National Federations.

Wu's Bid for Honorary Presidency

An agreement was signed between Wu and AIBA’s Executive Committee to close all pending legal disputes he had brought against the EC members who sought to depose him for his role in bad financial deals.

Among those deals was a $10 million loan from an Azerbaijani company named Benkons that remains unpaid. Around the Rings understands that negotiations are ongoing with the company to remove the Benkons loan as an immediate liability.

A stipulation of the deal signed by Wu and approved by the IOC states that Wu must be nominated for a role as an Honorary President of AIBA for his contributions to the federation over 11 years as its president. Wu’s resignation from AIBA also forced him to leave the IOC Executive Board, yet he remains an IOC member having served in the organization since 1988.

This nomination will occur during tomorrow's Extraordinary Congress at the Ritz Carlton. However, ATR is told that the 112 National Federations that are in Dubai – all of which had to pay their own way to attend the Extraordinary Congress – would like a detailed review of the situation that led to Wu’s resignation before a vote to approve the nomination is held.

It is unclear whether the congress would currently support such a nomination.

Around the Rings is on the scene for the pivotal meeting of AIBA.

Reported and written by Kevin Nutley in Dubai, UAE.

Travel and accommodations provided by AIBA.

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