The four candidates in this weekend’s presidential election of the European Boxing Confederation (EUBC) aim to win a mandate to provide a generational change in the leadership of European boxing. Outgoing president Franco Falcinelli is stepping down after 10 years at the helm.
The election will be held on Saturday at the EUBC Congress in Assisi, Italy.
The four hopefuls are Dutch Boxing Federation President Boris van der Vorst, Turkish Boxing Federation chief Eyüp Gözgeç, Boxing Federation of Ukraine chief Volodymyr Prodyvus, and Greece’s Ioannis Filippatos, who chairs the IBA and EUBC Medical Commissions.
Van der Vorst is also a candidate in IBA’s presidential election, which will be held in Istanbul on May 13-14.
In his manifesto, Van der Vorst vowed to “make fair bouts the absolute priority of everyone” as part of his fight against manipulation, and implement an independent system of appointing officials, following the lead of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) Boxing Taskforce.
The IOC Taskforce, chaired by International Gymnastics Federation President Morinari Watanabe, organised boxing at Tokyo 2020 after IBA was suspended due to concerns over refereeing, judging and governance.
In his EUBC election manifesto, Van der Vorst proposed that the chairs of EUBC Commissions, including refereeing and judging and competition, should be elected by National Federations rather than appointed.
In order to ensure the EUBC’s financial sustainability, he said “all loans, joint ventures, rights transfers or other tenders will be openly examined and approved by the Board”, and vowed to develop a strategic plan to create new sources of revenue.
“I am convinced that the implementation of my plan in Europe will take boxing into a new era of sustainable development and unity, full of exciting new commercial opportunities,” noted Van der Vorst.
Van der Vorst has been the President of the Dutch Boxing Federation since 2014 and has chaired the EUBC Passion for Boxing Commission since 2016.
The five Nordic Boxing National Federations – Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Norway and Iceland – have publicly backed Van der Vorst in the EUBC presidential election.
Meanwhile, Greek official Ioannis Filippatos vowed in his manifesto to implement “a deep and revolutionary reform of the EUBC Committees” and install “a modern management system” as part of plans covering administration and governance.
Filippatos also hopes to increase the number of boxing competitions held in Europe, including the creation of a Boxing Clubs Champions League, and install an EUBC Club Licensing Programme to help clubs raise their governance standards and aid development.
He said the EUBC will provide support to National Federations who are yet to host major competitions, with the goal of helping them to do so, and has suggested that the EUBC could reconsider its tendering process.
Filippatos aims to promote close links with the future IBA European Boxing Academy in Assisi, reform the management and treatment of medical officials, and increase research projects on boxers’ health.
“We all know that our beloved boxing has certain health issues, but I am aware of the diagnosis and I am ready to cure it,” Filippatos claimed in a letter to National Federations.
“There is no magic pill, as you know, therefore a long-term and resource-intensive treatment is necessary.
“Only by joint efforts can we cure our sport – carry out reforms, free it from corruption and create a sustainable basis for its returning to the Olympic program,” he said.
Filippatos’ open letter emphasises his medical background, having spent 30 years as a doctor, and claims he has worked at more than 7,000 fights as a ring-side doctor at National Championships to Olympic Games.
Filippatos served as a member of the EUBC Medical Commission from 2013 until 2016, and then chaired it till 2020. He currently chairs the IBA Medical and Anti-Doping Committee.
The EUBC President automatically becomes a member of the IBA Board of Directors, which is set to be cut from 28 to 18 members at next month’s IBA Extraordinary Congress, during which IBA will hold its presidential election between the Russian incumbent Umar Kremlev and Boris van der Vorst.
The EUBC and IBA elections are likely to be pivotal for boxing’s future. The sport has been dropped from Los Angeles 2028, and its place in Paris 2024 will be decided by the IOC in 2023 only if IBA meets its criteria on refereeing and judging, financial stability and governance.
With the IOC already expressing concerns over Kremlev’s sponsorship deal with Russian energy giant Gazprom, there are real risks that IBA may find itself excluded from boxing for Paris as well, which could prove to be the death knell for this sports federation.