LeBA, LNOC at loggerheads over IBA



MASERU – The Lesotho Boxing Association (LeBA) and the Lesotho National Olympic Committee (LNOC) are in total disagreement on the recommendation to revoke recognition of the International Boxing Association (IBA). The suggestion to cancel the acknowledgement of the IBA was made by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) following a meeting held last week Wednesday. The issue will be further addressed at an extraordinary IOC session that will be held remotely on June 22.

The IOC says after analysing a report on the IBA’s circumstances, which decided that it had not met the requirements set by the Olympic body for removing the suspension of the boxing mother body’s recognition, it made the proposal to the session.

The IBA responded by calling the IOC Executive Board’s suggestion genuinely reprehensible and merely political, and asserting that it did not accurately reflect the reality of the situation, in which tremendous reform efforts and the implementation of widely acknowledged principles of good governance have been made.

Rethabile Ntiea, the public relations officer of LeBA, said his organisation was completely behind IBA and will back the boxing governing body going forward.  “As LeBA, we are still content with the current IBA administration under the leadership of Umar Kremlev,” said Ntiea in an interview with Public Eye. “This committee is really doing well as far as the administration of the sport is concerned at international level.”

Ntiea said prior to Russian boxing official, taking over as the new IBA president, there were no rewards for any international amateur boxing competitions, including the African Boxing Championships.  “If you can recall, amateur boxing had no prizes until Kremlev took over office. If boxers competed for millions of US dollars at the most recent World Championships, that tells you that Kremlev and his committee are doing well to elevate boxing on a global scale,” he said.

From April 30 to May 14, 2023, the Men’s IBA World Boxing Championships, usually referred to as World Champs, were held in Tashkent, Uzbekistan.  Lesotho was represented at the games by Arena Pakela, Qhobosheane Mohlerepe, and Retšelisitsoe Kolobe.

The three boxers’ travel expenses to the Tashkent international boxing championship, according to Ntiea, were covered by Kremlev. The LNOC, Ntiea, said it also played its part by providing allowance to the boxers and their coach allowances. He said Kremlev used supply his organisation with boxing gear to help local boxing grow.

“As a result, we are fully behind Kremlev’s administration,” Ntiea said. The LNOC PRO Fetang Selialia said they were powerless to sway the IOC’s judgment.  He said when the IOC makes decisions: “We just follow, as opposed to having any control over them.

“But what we want is for the boxers to be protected.” Selialia said the LNOC agreed with the IOC’s suggestion to stop recognising IBA.  “So as the LNOC, we support the decision taken by the IOC. We cannot bite a hand that feeds us. We will just follow suit.”

The former president of LeBA, Takatso Ramakhula, also disagrees with the regional boxing governing organisation. The present IBA administration, according to Ramakhula, who is also the former treasurer for the Zone 4 boxing committee, has never been beneficial for boxing, particularly when it comes to African boxers.  “I had never supported them before because I realised that they were not there to develop boxing,” he said.

“Those guys do not like African boxers. I observed what I am talking about during my time as one of the international boxing administrators.” Asked to comment on the issue, the Botswana Boxing Association (BoBA), another IBA affiliate, however expressed its wish not to be dragged into the dispute.

The problem, according to BoBA Secretary General, Taolo Tlouetsile, is beyond their control.  “BoBA is a member of the IBA and the AFBC (Africa Boxing Confederation) in good standing. As a result, for now we cannot comment on the IOC and IBA matters” said Tlouetsile in an interview with Public Eye.

He added: “It is beyond us. We have not received any correspondence from the BNOC (Botswana National Olympic Committee).” In its report, the IOC said it had no other option but to suspend IBA’s recognition because of the severity of the situation.

However, international media reports show that boxing is set to keep its place on the Paris 2024 programme, which the IOC Executive Board is also recommending to the Session, in the interest of boxing athletes and the sport, to maintain on the schedule for next year’s Olympics.

But boxing has been left off the initial programme for the Los Angeles 2028 Olympics, with the IOC concluding in its report that the IBA would not be allowed to organise the LA 2028 boxing tournament if the sport were included.

“Despite the various chances given to the IBA, including the roadmap from 2021 to 2023, to address various concerns with actual, effective evolution, the IBA was unable to provide the elements that would have allowed the lifting of its suspension,” reads the IOC report.

“Therefore, it is not possible to reach any conclusion other than to confirm the analysis made by the IOC session in 2019, which was at no time contested by the IBA on the necessity to withdraw IOC recognition of the IBA.”

The IOC report further reads: “Effectively, the situation has become so serious that the only proportional conclusion is to withdraw the IOC’s recognition of the IBA pursuant to the Olympic Charter.” Responding to the IOC Executive Board recommendation, Kremlev said: “We have made the International Boxing Association new, transparent, and clean, and our successes were publicly acknowledged by international independent experts. There is only one organisation that has no interest in recognising our tremendous progress.”

Kremlev further said: “For four years, the IBA has not received (even) a single opportunity to present its achievements at an in-person meeting with the IOC, rather than only exchanging letters and emails instead.” The IBA boss was further quoted by insidethegames.biz as saying they accepted the process and the rules, but in the end they were not assessed fairly. “Now we are left with no chance but to demand a fair assessment from the competent court,” Kremlev said.

IBA Secretary General and Chief Executive Officer, George Yorelimpos, said: “The IBA should be commended for its repeated attempts to work with the IOC to find a solution in our fight to oversee Olympic boxing alongside our World Boxing Championships and other world-class IBA competitions, and we will continue to explore options with the IOC in a spirit of open dialogue.”

In response to concerns surrounding boxing’s future on the Olympic programme, a federation entitled World Boxing was launched, with its priorities including keeping the sport at the heart of the Olympic Movement. World Boxing is said to have welcomed the clarity following the IOC Executive Board’s recommendation to withdraw recognition of the IBA.

In a statement, World Boxing said: “This is very significant as it provides an opportunity for the sport to move on from the corrosive leadership of the IBA, which has brought boxing to a place where its status as a part of the Olympic programme is in doubt. USA Boxing and Swiss Boxing have both quit IBA to join World Boxing, while the Dutch Boxing Federation and Boxing New Zealand have indicated that they are also likely to join World Boxing.”

IBA has described World Boxing as a rogue organisation and suspended the national federations of New Zealand, Germany, Sweden, and the Netherlands over their connections to World Boxing.

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