IBA President Kremlev Ignores Concerns, Accuses Olympics of “Extortion”

Umar Kremlev during his AIBA election speech on December 12, 2020, in front of a photograph of him with Russian President Vladimir Putin (Photo: World Boxing Today)

The failure of Umar Kremlev’s leadership of the International Boxing Federation (IBA) is painfully visible to the boxing family, especially with the prospect of the sport being dropped at the Paris Games in 2024.

Yet Kremlev has chosen to blame IBA’s problems on previous administrations, on the International Olympic Committee (IOC), and on geopolitics; in short, on everyone except himself.

Two years have passed since Kremlev became president of IBA in December 2020. Instead of working closely with the IOC to solve the governance and financial challenges facing IBA, Kremlev has chosen a confrontational approach that appears designed to increase IBA’s isolation and his own control over the sports body.

He has now released a statement accusing the IOC of persecution and “extortion”.

“The Olympic Games … cannot be a tool of extortion of the International Sports Federations for purely political reasons, as is unacceptably happening now,” Kremlev claimed.

The IOC has for several years expressed concerns about the integrity of IBA’s management and finances, and the refereeing and judging of bouts.

In response, Kremlev railed against “the latest attack on IBA’s athletes and IBA by the IOC for the new leadership’s continued commitment to becoming a sound and independent organisation, purged of prior governance issues and ultimately a financially independent sustainable organisation.”

In his alternate reality, Kremlev claims that it’s the IOC versus the boxing fraternity, when in fact many in boxing are worried over the path taken by IBA.

USA Boxing executive director and chief executive Mike McAtee wrote an open letter to its members:

“USA Boxing is concerned that IBA is prioritizing its own role in the Olympics above the interests of the boxers.  

“To be clear, Kremlev’s statement is the opinion of one person who does not speak for all 38,000+ USA Boxing’s boxers or other National Federations and their boxers.”

Kremlev has turned an international sports body into what is effectively a Russian-run sports body. IBA’s main sponsor is Gazprom, with whom Kremlev has signed an opaque deal

“We are being criticized for renewing a commercial partnership that was first made in 2021. This partnership was announced to be renewed and confirmed by National Federations at the IBA Ordinary Congress 2022,” Kremlev said in his statement.

On December 11, the IBA president even threatened that boxing could not take place in the Olympics without IBA. He claimed “that not a single boxer, coach or National Federation will be participating in the Olympic Games without IBA.”

But Kremlev’s ultimatum has been rejected by USA Boxing.

“Boxers, coaches and officials have been participating in Olympic Qualification and the Olympic Games without the participation by IBA, most recently throughout the Tokyo 2020 Olympic cycle,” McAtee noted.

Boris van der Vorst, President of the Dutch Boxing Federation, and challenger to Kremlev who was illegally disqualified from IBA’s 2022 election, agreed that boxing was more important that IBA.

“We cannot afford for boxing to be eliminated from the Olympic Program in Paris 2024,” he wrote on Twitter following Kremlev’s latest attack on the IOC.

“We have to keep fighting for its re-inclusion in LA 2028.

“We have to do it with or without the IBA.”


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