- Hans Weber
- December 1, 2023
Boxing boycott grows as Britain, Czech Republic pull out of world titles due to rift with IBA over Russian fighters
The International Boxing Association (IBA) is facing a growing boycott of its world championships as several national teams, including Britain and the Czech Republic, join a United States-led protest against the Russian president of the IBA. The stand-off concerns the president’s decision to allow Russian fighters to compete under their country’s flag and anthem, defying recommendations from the International Olympic Committee (IOC) that they should participate as neutral athletes.
British governing body GB Boxing has announced that it will not participate in the women’s world championships in India next month, and that the men’s championships in May are “under review.” The boycott has been prompted by concerns over sporting integrity, governance, transparency, and financial management at the IBA, which the IOC has asked the association to address in order to protect boxing’s place on the Olympic program.
The IBA’s decision to allow Russian and Belarusian fighters to compete under their national symbols, despite the IOC’s recommendations, has created further tension between the association and the Olympic movement. The IBA’s president, Umar Kremlev, has criticized the administrators and politicians behind the boycott, describing them as “worse than hyenas and jackals.”
The boycott by several national teams, including the US and Ireland, has prompted Kremlev to offer financial help to US boxers to compete in defiance of their national governing body. The split in boxing is separate from the larger ongoing dispute over whether athletes from Russia and Belarus should be allowed to compete at the Paris Olympics in 2024, with some political and sports leaders warning of boycotts if this happens.
The world boxing championships, which now offer significant prize money for both men and women, were historically for amateur fighters and often provided a key Olympic qualifier. However, the IOC suspended its recognition of the IBA in 2019, and boxing was not included in the program for the 2028 Olympics in Los Angeles, though it could be added at a later date.
In conclusion, the growing boycott of the IBA’s world championships reflects ongoing concerns over sporting integrity, governance, and transparency, and highlights the tensions between the association and the Olympic movement. It remains to be seen how the IBA will respond to this growing protest, and whether its decisions will affect boxing’s place on the Olympic program in the future.
Article by Prague Forum