The extraordinary confession by long-time hustler Ho Kim to The Times newspaper shines a welcome light on the shady workings of international sporting organisations – with bribes paid for gold medals and for votes in elections.
While much of what Kim revealed to The Times was known already, why has Kim chosen to confess and why now?
Kim, who claims to have just been a “delivery boy”, was actually the operations brain for the International Boxing Association (AIBA) and its former president CK Wu for over a decade. His organisational skills are still in demand when it comes to marshalling votes in boxing, even though he is formally barred from the sport for life.
The key takeaway from Kim’s retelling of events is that somehow Wu was to blame for all the ills facing Olympic boxing, that the IOC was also responsible for the mess because it pushed Wu to be AIBA president, and that all the corruption at AIBA (now IBA) was in the past.
Kim would perhaps be more believable if there was no IBA repeat election scheduled this Sunday, with the IOC making it clear that it has serious concerns over IBA’s governance, transparency and financial stability under Russian incumbent Umar Kremlev.
So, guess who benefits from Kim’s veiled attack on the IOC? Kremlev, of course. He faces an existential election against Dutch challenger Boris van der Vorst, who has received growing support.
We have therefore decided to pose a few key questions to Kremlev, based on Kim’s interview (we have also provided the answers because we know Kremlev is too busy to respond):
1. How much was Kim paid to ‘confess’?
Not an easy one to answer, we are sure. Given that Kremlev’s team has spent over $5 million in the past 2 years on ‘Communication Expenses’, it is certainly possible that there was some change left over to fund Kim’s ‘confession’.
2. Is IBA’s corruption all in the past?
No. Even IBA’s paid-for McLaren report that painted a rosy picture of Kremlev and his controversial sponsor Russian energy firm Gazprom, revealed that bouts were manipulated till at least 2021. So Kim’s assertion that Kremlev’s IBA is somehow clean is just not accurate.
3. Are votes going to be bought for Sunday?
According to Kim, he handed out $500,000 in cash to ensure Wu won his election in 2006. If recent trends are any indication, nothing has changed, except for the amounts. Expect cash to be made available in Russian-ally Armenia for votes to be bought once again in Sunday’s election.
4. Do you think boxing will ever be an Olympic sport again?
Not with Kremlev in power. The IOC has already removed IBA from running the sport at Paris 2024, and boxing is not even expected to feature at Los Angeles 2028. Kremlev appears rather satisfied with just the IBA World Championships where he can dole out medals and feel like an international sporting boss.
5. Wouldn’t it be better for boxing’s long-term future if Kremlev left IBA?
“What, do you mean leaving my position of power to return to Moscow under my mentor Vladimir Putin, where I could soon have the privilege of being sent to fight in his ‘special military operation’ against Ukraine? Are you crazy?”
Perhaps The Times journalist Matt Lawton, who spent four days with Kim to get some titbits which anyone in boxing could have given him in an hour, should now put these questions to Kremlev. He might even get some real answers.