AIBA Guarantees Boxers A Fair Fight and Reforms
28 June, Lausanne: The International Boxing Association (AIBA) today revealed major developments in its drive to reform boxing with the appointment of independent governance expert Professor Dr. Ulrich Haas and confirmation that a major independent financial audit will be conducted, in addition to Professor Richard McLaren’s independent investigation into refereeing and judging.
The announcement was made by AIBA President Umar Kremlev during a press conference in Lausanne and marks the latest steps by AIBA to uphold the highest standards in governance, financial integrity and sports integrity.
Professor Ulrich Haas – who is currently leading the governance reform of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) – will chair an independent Governance Reform Group comprising legal and governance experts. The Group will review AIBA’s current governance structures, assess these structures against international best practice and issue concrete recommendations for further improvement. Meanwhile, AIBA is in the process of finalising an agreement with a major accounting firm to conduct an independent full-scope audit of the federation’s finances.
AIBA President Kremlev said:
“As I promised when elected AIBA president, AIBA is working on becoming a welcoming, strong and stable home for boxers around the world. We have appointed the best independent experts to guide us towards the highest standards of governance and sports integrity. We have also secured financial stability for our organisation with the help of sponsorship from Gazprom, with more commercial support to come. But we will not stop there. All of these things are coming together as part of the huge shift we are delivering so that boxers can be sure of their future, fair judging and receiving a financial reward for their fights.”
These announcements follow the appointment of Professor Richard McLaren to conduct an independent investigation into the refereeing and judging of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games boxing tournament. Professor McLaren, who joined the press conference by video call, explained the mandate of his investigation and strongly encouraged whistleblowers to contact his investigation group directly, so the concerns can begin to be looked into.
AIBA Secretary General and two-time AIBA World Champion and World Champion in professional boxing István Kovács said:
“Boxers have been waiting for a long time to see these kinds of reforms that will ensure their right to a fair fight and a financial reward for their efforts. In addition to actioning the recommendations that come from our independent experts, we are also working on making a number of other improvements; from increasing our transparency and making more information about our policies publicly available, to looking at how we can improve sporting integrity through live scoring and other initiatives. We will not hesitate to make any changes needed to give boxers the sport they deserve.”
AIBA’s commitment to ensuring boxers have a fair fight was further highlighted by the presence of multiple World Champion Roy Jones Jr in Lausanne. He was also joined at the press conference by world-class boxers past and present, including six-time AIBA World Champion Mary Kom, two-time AIBA World Champion Roberto Cammarelle and 2018 German boxing champion Zeina Nassar.
The main goal for AIBA is to become a reliable home for boxers all over the world.
Watch the full press conference here.
Quotes from AIBA Press Conference – 28 June 2021
Roy Jones Jr, Multiple World Champion
“I want to start by saying how happy I am to be here. Yes, as some of you know, I‘ve had some fights since Seoul. And even some pretty big ones!
But I’ve got to tell you. Whenever I see that photo, it feels like yesterday. And not in a great way.
All the judges that were part of that decision were crooked. They’ve all been banned. And I know they were not the only ones.
So I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. The judges were crooked. The whole world knows it. Even my opponent agrees I won the fight. But how come I don’t have my gold medal? How can you beat someone so bad and not get the gold medal, and they don’t go back and fix it? Because I’m still here. And I still earned it. And we have to make sure nothing like that ever happens again.
It’s way past time to right the wrongs that have happened in boxing, especially in amateur boxing. That’s why I’m really happy to see my friend Umar taking a stand. That’s why I’m really happy to see people from outside of boxing stepping up to fight.
I don’t know where all this is going to go. But if it helps make sure that fights are fair in future, that no other fighter is robbed in the way I was robbed, then count me in.
The promise of a fair fight is the most important thing in boxing. Boxers need to know that when they step in the ring, there is a set of rules that are applied with real justice. They need to know that the only person they are fighting is the guy in the other corner. Not the guy in the white shirt in the middle or the judges next to the ring.
I truly believe that today we are taking a big step forward towards that promise of a fair fight. You have my complete support.”
Mary Kom, Six-time AIBA World Champion
“As you know I am an active boxer and also the chairperson of the AIBA Champions and Veterans Committee. This has allowed me to have a unique insight into the experience of the athletes and also the administrators. I do think it is important to give athletes a bigger voice and I think AIBA is doing that today. How often do you see active athletes being given a voice on occasions like this? I would say not enough.
You know boxing is an accessible sport, it is a universal sport. You really don’t need much to practice it. But access to a sport is not just about how expensive the facilities are. How expensive the shoes are. It is also a question for society. In my country young women often have to fight too hard to access sport. That is clearly the case in too many countries around the world. But I think I have shown and so many women boxers have shown that we deserve opportunities. That we will fight for this opportunity. So I am grateful that AIBA is supporting us. Through boxing we can teach society about equality and about fairness; we can inspire and we can bring hope. But we can only do this if we lead by example. Throughout my life I have tried to lead by example. This leadership is not just a job for individuals, it is a job for organisations like AIBA. For too long AIBA has not set a good example and I must tell you as an athlete and as a champion I am so happy to see that changing.”
Roberto Cammarelle, Two-time AIBA World Champion
“I am happy to be here today to be able to hear President Kremlev’s ideas. I have seen how much he loves boxing by training with him in Italy. Boxing needs to attract its audience through high-level competitions. I saw at the U22 European Championships how much this new AIBA invests in events to give a dream to the young generation. I am proud to make a contribution to the growth of the new AIBA. I am impressed with the direction AIBA is going.”
Zeina Nassar, German boxing Champion
“I started boxing when I was 13 year’s old. I was the only Muslim girl wearing a hijab in my club. In 2019, AIBA changed the competition regulations so that I can now also compete internationally with a long shirt, long pants and my hijab. Before that I wasn’t allowed to box abroad. Now the requirement is the same – it is important to qualify by the performance. This international experience is so important to get better. And that’s my goal.
Today I can take part in the European and the World Championships. I owe all of this to the reforms of AIBA and the representatives of all countries, and for sure the German Boxing Association. This rule change is a huge step forward for women in the Muslim regions to practice sports that have historically been known as a male domain.
I get a lot of messages every day from girls who want to start boxing. Above all, many parents are against it. There is a hurdle to overcome that will make it easier for us to get started and get even more girls and boys to learn more about the sport. Open doors and educate more coaches.
For me, the training impressed me the most and taught me a lot of other qualities besides my fitness. Respect, discipline, and controlling my emotions are some of them. Boxing is definitely also for women, that’s why I stand up for it. Sport helps you get more self-confident. We need to create role models and we need to be more visible in the media. We all are responsible for change. There is still a lot to do, but I know that boxing is back on the right track.”