World Boxing, a New Contender for the Sport’s Governing Body

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The Women's World Championships in 2022 (Photo: IBA)

Boxing remains in a crisis, with the sport being managed at Paris 2024 directly by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) itself and being left off the initial programme for Los Angeles 2028.

A new contender for boxing’s governing body is World Boxing, launched in April 2023 by concerned administrators from around the world. It has no connection with our website World Boxing Today, which launched a year earlier in 2022.

The national federations of Great Britain, the United States, Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden, New Zealand and the Philippines issued a joint statement at its launch.

They announced that World Boxing was established to “address the IOC’s longstanding concerns over sporting integrity, governance, transparency and financial management [which] has placed boxing’s future as an Olympic sport in doubt”.

The statement added: “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.”

Matthew Holt, chief executive of GB Boxing, said: “It is vital that boxing continues to remain at the heart of the Olympic movement and to achieve this we need to re-establish a relationship of trust between those that the govern the sport and all of its stakeholders. 

“World Boxing aims to deliver this by creating a financially transparent organisation with strong governance structures that delivers sporting integrity and fair competition and acts in the interest of boxers and the sport.”

The IOC has suspended the International Boxing Association (IBA), the sport’s embattled governing body that stands accused of corruption and incompetence.

The IBA was sanctioned and prevented from running boxing at the 2021 Tokyo Olympics and again at Paris this year due to concerns over their finances, governance and ethics. The IOC took charge of the programme in Tokyo and will do so again in Paris.

An investigation into the IBA in 2022 by Prof Richard McLaren painted a damning picture of “a culture of bout manipulation”, financial corruption, poor administration and inadequate training of referees and judges. McLaren underlined the need for these issues and other ethical concerns, to be addressed if boxing is to retain its Olympic status.

Numerous countries, including Great Britain, boycotted the 2023 world championships in protest at the IBA’s decision to remove its ban on Russian and Belarusian boxers despite Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The IBA’s Russian president, Umar Kremlev, lashed out at the boycotting nations as being “worse than hyenas and jackals” for tarnishing “the integrity of sport”.

A significant portion of the IBA’s funding comes from the sponsorship it receives from the Russian state-backed energy supplier Gazprom.

In comparison, World Boxing had an initial modest operating budget of around $1 million. But with much less baggage than IBA, this new organisation may have a better shot at leading the sport into the next Olympics.

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