Aiba lifts lid on mixed gender competition, financial status

The International Boxing Association (Aiba) has revealed plans for a new mixed gender competition concept and has provided a further update on its financial situation as it continues efforts to demonstrate reform to the International Olympic Committee (IOC).

The IOC last month elected to maintain conditional status on the place of boxing at the 2020 summer Olympic Games, highlighting its “significant ongoing concern” with the situation of Aiba.

The IOC Executive Board said it still had a number of major concerns regarding Aiba, chiefly its governance and ethical and financial management, which required further information and confirmation.

The IOC decided to maintain its position, which includes the continued suspension of financial contributions to Aiba and the right to review the inclusion of boxing on the Tokyo 2020 programme. A further review of Aiba’s status will be conducted by the IOC EB at its meeting in Tokyo, following the Aiba Congress scheduled for November 2-3.

Ahead of the Congress, interim Aiba president Gafur Rahimov has now sought to provide an update on the association’s work via a blog post on its official website. The detailed post includes information on the new competition initiative.

In line with the intention to foster gender equality and the development of women’s boxing, Aiba has decided to develop a new competition concept called ‘Mixed Double Boxing’, where both men and women will compete during the same match. It has been approved by the EC Bureau and Executive Committee, with the aim of launching the first competition next year.

A Task Force Team has been appointed, led by Aiba vice-president, Osvaldo Bisbal, to develop the regulation and future competition system. Talks are being held with investors and sponsors regarding the marketing rights with the entire concept to be presented during November’s Congress.

Meanwhile, Rahimov has shed further light on Aiba’s financial situation. In February, Aiba confirmed it had secured an out-of-court settlement to end a legal fight over a critical $10m (€8.52m) loan by one of its biggest creditors, stating the agreement would avoid the threat of bankruptcy.

Azeri company Benkons has been seeking repayment of the $10m loan, which dates back to 2011 and relates to the Americas Operation of the World Series of Boxing (WSB). Aiba has now said the settlement agreement will mean that out of Aiba’s total debt of $10m, $2m will be returned to Benkons via sponsorship. Further discussions will be held for another $3m to be also covered through sponsorship, which Rahimov said will “significantly improve” Aiba’s financial situation.

Aiba said it has also signed an agreement with Chinese firm First Contract International Trade (FCIT), which it had previously been in dispute with, to create a new joint venture to manage the marketing programs of both Aiba and WSB. Aiba said this has removed the CHF19m (€16.8m/$19.1m) “burden from the shoulders” of the association. The agreement was approved and signed during the EC meeting in July.

Aiba said it has also received the final forensic investigation report from the K2 Intelligence Company, which reviewed both Aiba and WSB finances. In addition, K2 was also mandated to investigate all financial issues related to the office of former president Ching-Kuo Wu in Chinese Taipei.

Rahimov said: “Among the findings were disturbing facts related to past mismanagement, as such Aiba is currently considering next steps with its legal experts. In addition, the Aiba Ethics Commission will have an opportunity to fully review the report and present its recommendations to the Aiba EC and Congress.”

Finally, Aiba has said it is working on a detailed business plan to form a Centralised Training and Certification Institute. The purpose of this Technical School will be to provide Aiba coaches and officials, including referees and judges, with streamlined training from grassroots to elite level.

This move comes with Aiba having to contend with issues surrounding refereeing and judging of fights at major events. Rahimov added: “I believe that the performance of our athletes and the transparent judging of our officials during competitions are key to the success of Aiba’s future.”