The upcoming AIBA presidential election is vital to the future of the sport, writes John Dennen
AMATEUR boxing’s future is a grave concern. The grassroots of the sport are in severe peril due to the Covid-19 pandemic. At international level, boxing’s place as an Olympic sport is under threat. The International Olympic Committee has suspended governing body AIBA from administering the boxing tournament at the Tokyo Games, replacing it with a specially convened taskforce for this event. To restore its position with the IOC, AIBA must resolve its governance issues. The upcoming election for AIBA president, to take place at the AIBA Congress from December 12-13, really does matter.
The interim president Mohamed Moustahsane unexpectedly joins a list of seven candidates for AIBA president with Russia’s Umar Kremlev, Anas Al Otaiba from the United Arab Emirates, Dominican Republic’s Domingo Solano, Boris van der Vorst, President of the Dutch Boxing Federation, German referee Ramie Al-Masri and Azerbaijan’s Suleyman Mikayilov.
Mikayilov [pictured above] has put reinstating AIBA’s place in the Olympic Games and solving the organisation’s profound financial difficulties at the heart of his agenda. He wants to form an independent ‘Boxing Integrity Unit’ to tackle doping, corruption and ethical violations, as well as a ‘United Boxing Alliance’ to provide secure and transparent financial support for the development of boxing across all national federations.
“One of the main issues we still face is that we remain divided and there is still in fighting among ourselves without having a united approach. Then of course it means addressing all the other problems the organisation faces in terms of finance, poor staffing, a lack of good governance and ethics is even harder. It means we’re at the lowest level in sport and with a tarnished image so no marketing activities are in place to be able to support our boxers,” Mikayilov tells Boxing News. “All these problems can be solved once we are a united organisation. I am crying out to our national federations and the world boxing family to come together now, otherwise, we have no hope.”
“I want to impress the IOC by showcasing how serious we are about reform. All changes must be deep and sustainable for the organisation. Since the suspension one year ago, AIBA has shown very slow progress to the extent that some of AIBA’s largest federations are now openly questioning if more should not be done. After the election, an aggressive and painful reform needs to be implemented. Without action, the IOC will not believe us,” he continued. “But it will be clear from my manifesto that I am serious about reinstating AIBA in the Olympic family. This is at the forefront of my campaign. Boxers from around the world deserve to fulfil their dream of fighting at the Olympics and AIBA needs to go on this journey and once again prove to the IOC it is serious about making this happen.
“It’s also one of the key reasons I have made an agreement with Global Sports Investigation (GSI) as my campaign advisers on integrity, good governance and ethics. They have a lot of experience working with sport federations on integrity issues and will offer great expertise in this area.”
Mikayilov was a boxer himself, a member of the Dynamo Sports Club in the Soviet Union and a national champion in Azerbaijan. He has been a member of AIBA’s executive committee and, outside of the sport, is a political figure, who’s been governor of the Garadagh region near Baku since 2010.
“My love for the sport of boxing is certainly a key reason I want to become the new president of AIBA. To see this organisation so crippled by debt and not in charge of its own destiny is very difficult to witness and I know, and truly believe, I can set us on a new journey to start over and become a world leading governing body in the future,” he says. “Participating in the Olympic Games and winning medals represent the hopes and dreams of all boxers. I will not simply stand by and watch AIBA be removed from the Olympics permanently and this is a huge motivation for me, to create change and unite the organisation once more.”