The current Acting President of the International Amateur Boxing Association (AIBA) is Uzbek businessman Gafur Rakhimov.
He is also currently favoured to head the organisation following the upcoming elections to the office to be held on November 3rd in Moscow.
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) is said to strongly oppose such an outcome. Russia, however, is clearly backing his candidacy to the point of seeking to exclude all other candidates for the post.
Gafur Rakhimov, (who is believed to be known in the criminal underworld of post-soviet countries as Gafur Cherny), is alleged to be a ‘former’ member of the criminal organisation known as The Brothers’ Circle, named in a 2012 report by the US Department of The Treasury as “a criminal group composed of leaders and senior members of several Eurasian criminal groups that are largely based in countries of the former Soviet Union, but also operate in Europe, the Middle East, Africa, and Latin America. The Brothers’ Circle serves as a coordinating body for several criminal networks, mediates disputes between the individual criminal networks, and directs members criminal activity globally.”
It should be pointed out that Rakhimov denies all the charges against him.
This would place him alongside such key figures in the Eurasian underworld as Zakhar Kalashov, who has extensive connections to criminal groups in Russia and countries throughout Eurasia. According to law enforcement authorities, his criminal activities include money laundering, extortion, criminal protection, and trafficking in both arms and drugs.
Kalashov was named as recently as December 28th 2017 in a notice by the Foreign Assets Control Office (OFAC) of the US Government concerning “persons that have been placed on OFAC’s Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons List based on OFAC’s determination that one or more applicable legal criteria were satisfied”.
All property and interests in property subject to US jurisdiction of such persons are blocked, and US citizens are generally prohibited from engaging in transactions with them.
On the basis of these allegations, Rakhimov was forbidden to attend the Youth Olympic Games, which began in Buenos Aires on October 6th.
Writing to all 203 AIBA National Federations, IOC director general Christophe de Kepper said: “Independent oversight of the refereeing and judging of the Games here has also been required by the International Olympic Committee following the scandal involving the officials who oversaw the boxing event at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.”
De Kepper continued, “We believe it is important to communicate this directly to all National Federations in order for you to have a clear understanding of the serious ongoing concerns of the IOC Executive Board and avoid any misunderstandings regarding these concerns.”
A letter to Rakhimov from the Head of the IOC Ethics Committee, Pâquerette Girard Zappelli, has appeared in the media in which Zapppelli says that in the interest of boxing, only “absolutely clean” applicants should stand as candidates.
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The IOC stressed that “the very existence of boxing as an Olympic sport and even the recognition of the AIBA are under threat” if “the questions posed are not properly resolved at the upcoming AIBA congress.”
The IOC has “maintained its freeze on all contacts with AIBA except at a working level”, and a crisis of governance has now put boxing’s place on the Olympic programme at Tokyo 2020 in serious jeopardy.
“Independent oversight of the refereeing and judging” of the Games here has also been required by the IOC following the scandal involving the officials who oversaw the boxing event at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.
“We believe it is important to communicate this directly to all National Federations in order for you to have a clear understanding of the serious ongoing concerns of the IOC Executive Board and avoid any misunderstandings regarding these concerns,“ De Kepper wrote.
Amidst all of this, the General Secretary of the Russian Boxing Federation, Umar Kremlev, has urged the IOC not to intervene in the election of the leadership of the AIBA.
Russia, a country known for its officially sanctioned high levels of corruption within sport, recently fielded its Heavyweight Champion Alexander Povetkin, a truly great fighter in his day, but who was discredited after having failed two drugs tests, against World Heavyweight champion, British fighter Anthony Joshua. Joshua, having sized up his opponent in the opening rounds, annihilated the Russian cheat in the opening moments of the 7th round.
We can only hope that the cheats, and the corrupt officials who seek control of this sport, are dispatched from the ring in similar fashion.