A new federation, World Boxing, will seek recognition from the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in a bid to keep boxing in the Olympic Games.
Boxing is under grave threat of being dropped as an Olympic sport after the IOC suspended International Boxing Association (IBA), the sport’s governing body, from administering Olympic boxing.
IBA’s Olympic spot was placed at risk due to issues with its governance, finances and refereeing and judging dating back a number of years.
In September, the IOC said it was “extremely concerned” that an IBA extraordinary congress overwhelmingly backed Russian Umar Kremlev to remain as its president.
For the Tokyo Olympics and for the 2024 Games in Paris, IBA has been suspended from running the Olympic boxing tournament as well as the qualification events, being replaced by the IOC’s own special boxing task force temporarily.
But the IOC had no plans to continue that beyond the Paris Games and boxing was left off the initial programme for Los Angeles 2028.
That means without significant reform boxing is set to be axed from the Olympic Games.
A group of boxing leaders from a number of nations, including the UK and USA, have launched a new federation, World Boxing, that will seek recognition from the IOC and try to preserve boxing as an Olympic sport.
On Thursday organisers said in a statement: “World Boxing has been established in response to the persistent issues surrounding Olympic-style boxing’s existing international governing body, whose failure to address the IOC’s longstanding concerns over sporting integrity, governance, transparency and financial management has placed boxing’s future as an Olympic sport in doubt.
“World Boxing will seek recognition from the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and plans to work constructively and collaboratively to develop a pathway that will preserve boxing’s ongoing place on the Olympic competition programme.”
Ahead of its inaugural congress World Boxing will be led by an interim executive board made-up of representatives from boxing organisations in Germany, Great Britain, the Netherlands, New Zealand, the Philippines, Sweden and the USA.
There will be an athletes committee, made up of three men and three women, that will be responsible for representing the views of boxers worldwide and providing advice, guidance and opinions to World Boxing.
Two athlete representatives on World Boxing’s interim executive board will be Olympic gold medallist Lauren Price from Wales and the USA’s super-heavyweight silver medallist Richard Torrez Jr.Torrez says it would be devastating for the next generation if boxing was to lose its Olympic place (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
“From being eight-years-old it was my ambition to go to the Olympic Games and once I took up boxing, everything I did was focused on working towards that goal. To finally achieve it and then win a medal has been the highlight of my career and even though I am now a professional, I do not think anything will ever match what I did at the Olympics,” Price said.
“Going to the Olympics is life changing and I cannot imagine a Games without boxing. It provides a massive platform for the sport and for the boxers. Without it, the boxers will suffer and the sport will be damaged so something has to be done to make sure boxing continues to be part of the Olympic Games.”
Torrez added: “Winning a medal for my country at Tokyo 2020 was the best moment of my career. To take that opportunity away from the next generation of boxers would be devastating for them as athletes and disastrous for the sport.
“It is absolutely vital that boxing remains part of the Olympic Games and I am going to do everything I can to make sure that happens.”
Explainer by James Savundra, Sky Sports News, reporter
A new international boxing federation has been launched by a collection of leaders from national federations across the world – including Great Britain.
What is their aim?
To ensure that boxing remains an Olympic sport. Boxing has not been included in the initial programme for the Olympics in Los Angeles in 2028 and time is running out to reverse that.
Why is “World Boxing” needed?
There has been a longstanding conflict between International Olympic Committee (IOC) and International Boxing Association (IBA). IBA has been suspended by IOC since 2019 due to years of controversy surrounding leadership, governance, alleged corruption and dubious officiating. Since their suspension, they have failed to reform and fully address these issues.
This new breakaway federation will seek recognition from IOC and will plan to work with them to try to preserve boxing’s ongoing place in the Olympic programme. World Boxing will be led in the short term by an interim executive board made up of representatives from boxing organisations from around the world.
Who’s on the board?
The board includes Matthew Holt (chief executive of GB Boxing) and Tyson Lee (president of USA Boxing). Olympic gold medalist Lauren Price is an athlete representative on the board.
Why is this so important?
Boxing has been contested in all but one Olympic Games since 1904. It has delivered many memorable moments down the years and provided a platform for stars such as Amir Khan, Anthony Joshua and Katie Taylor before they entered the paid ranks. The visibility of Olympic boxing is a huge driver of participation in the sport.
World Boxing need to get as many national federations on side and crucially seek recognition from IOC. That will not be a quick or easy process. There has been no communication yet but this will begin following the launch. There are expected to be legal challenges from IBA which is already involved in legal action against IOC. Time is running out as IOC will be finalising its programme for the 2028 Games in October.
Credit: Sky Sports