A new international boxing federation called World Boxing has today (April 13) been launched in an attempt to secure the sport’s future in the Olympics as a row between the International Boxing Association (IBA) and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) rumbles on.

The newly established body, created through collaboration between a group of national federations, will seek formal recognition from the IOC in the near future.

The launch announcement said World Boxing had been created “in response to the persistent issues surrounding Olympic-style boxing’s existing international governing body.”

Members of an interim executive board, however, have said they do not want a fight with IBA – despite the obvious threat posed to that organization by World Boxing's launch – and that the initial focus has been on registering in Switzerland as an international federation.

A budget of €900,000 ($995,000) for this year was announced at a press conference confirming the launch, with it also being confirmed that discussions with the IOC over recognition are expected to start soon. The body added that initial steps along this road could be taken inside two years, with recognition ahead of the Paris 2024 Olympics described as a “stretch.”

Funding will come from various sources initially, including donations and sponsorship.

How well do you really know your competitors?

Access the most comprehensive Company Profiles on the market, powered by GlobalData. Save hours of research. Gain competitive edge.

Company Profile – free sample

Thank you!

Your download email will arrive shortly

Not ready to buy yet? Download a free sample

We are confident about the unique quality of our Company Profiles. However, we want you to make the most beneficial decision for your business, so we offer a free sample that you can download by submitting the below form

By GlobalData
Visit our Privacy Policy for more information about our services, how we may use, process and share your personal data, including information of your rights in respect of your personal data and how you can unsubscribe from future marketing communications. Our services are intended for corporate subscribers and you warrant that the email address submitted is your corporate email address.

The IBA has been banned by the IOC since 2019 because of issues across a range of areas, most notably its internal governance and its financial affairs. It is heavily reliant on sponsorship funding from Gazprom, the energy giant backed by the Russian state.

As a result of wrangling between the IOC and the IBA which has been going on for a number of years, boxing had its Tokyo 2020 Olympic events run by the IOC in Japan two years ago, with the same situation in line for Paris 2024. For the Los Angeles 2028 Summer Olympics after that, boxing is currently not even on the initial sports program.

The IBA, led by Russia’s Umar Kremlev, has also contravened IOC guidance in allowing Russian and Belarusian boxers to compete under their own countries’ flags in recent weeks. The majority of the sporting world turned its back on that duo following the Russian invasion of Ukraine in February last year.

Up until November this year when the body holds its inaugural congress, World Boxing will be led by a temporary executive board, featuring representatives from boxing organizations in Germany (Michael Mueller), the UK (Matthew Holt), the Netherlands (Boris van der Vorst), New Zealand (Keith Walker), the Philippines (Karina Picson), Sweden (Karin Mattsson), and the US (Tyson Lee).

It will be overseen initially by interim secretary general Simon Toulson, who has previously led both the International Canoe Federation (until January of last year) and the International Weightlifting Federation.

There are no current members, with applications from the various national federations to open in May.

The not-for-profit World Boxing has been created through the work of a collection of national federations from across the world, with the aim of ensuring “that boxing remains at the heart of the Olympic movement.”

Van der Vorst, head of the Dutch Boxing Federation, attempted to challenge the IBA’s current president, Russia’s Umar Kremlev, in elections last year.

However, he was then removed from the ballot for a minor campaigning rules infraction, meaning Kremlev was re-elected by acclamation to the post which he has held in December 2020 – an incident that left the IOC expressing extreme concern.

Van der Vorst has said: “We are facing the worst nightmare an international sport can face – losing its Olympic status.

“Lots of national federations will join our common cause, we are convinced.

“We will look to engage national bodies, begin conversations, and be inclusive – this is a historic moment.”

He also said, on the subject of what the expected reaction from the IBA would be: “The national federations have not left the IBA at this time, that will be an individual choice for each of them.”

On this same subject, Toulson stated: “We don’t want a fight with the IBA – but there is a chance there’ll be a legal challenge from them.

“We don’t want it to get nasty, we don’t want this to become an issue and distract from what we’re trying to do. The IBA can challenge us if they like – we don’t fear that.

“There is no restriction on national federations being part of two organizations – there’s no legal reason why you can’t be an IBA member and a World Boxing member at the moment … If an association wants to join which is part of the IBA, they’re more than welcome.”

He also said that the body’s budget will increase in 2024 and 2025, in which latter year they will attempt to host inaugural world championships.

Tyson Lee, president of USA Boxing, commented during the press conference: “If the IBA was doing what it needed to do, we wouldn’t be having this conversation. We did everything we could to help the IBA reach the goals needed to get us back into the Olympic family, but at some point you need to make a change.

“We’re not really worried about what the IBA does, the most important thing for us in setting up this organization is establishing proper rules and statutes …”

“This is not World Boxing versus the IBA.”

In December, the IOC said the IBA would continue to be shut out of future Olympic programs until it implements a “drastic change of culture.”

The Olympic governing body said three months ago that the issues which the IBA had at that point failed to address include “ongoing concerns around its governance, its financial transparency and sustainability, and the integrity of its refereeing and judging processes.”

There will also be two athlete representatives present on the World Boxing executive board, Lauren Price and Richard Torrez Jr, meanwhile.

The body will be led by the executive board, alongside a president who will be elected by members at this year’s inaugural congress.

In terms of oversight and integrity, an area in which the IBA has come under fire from the IOC, World Boxing has said its competitions will be “subject to independent, third-party scrutiny” through the appointment of external assessors and that its statutes have been developed “following wide-ranging research of best practice in global sporting governance.”

On the principle of third-party oversight, World Boxing has said it will work with the Sport Resolutions firm to “create a third-party ethics and judicial procedure that is completely separate from the organization and will oversee any potential issues and disputes.”

World Boxing has publicized the following five pledges: to keep boxing at the heart of the Olympic movement; to ensure the interests of boxers are put first; to deliver sporting integrity and fair competitions; to create a competition structure designed in the best interests of the boxers; and to operate according to the strongest governance standards and transparent financial management.

The IBA, meanwhile, has today called on the IOC to revoke qualification status for the 2024 Olympics from the multi-sport European Games in Poland this year.

It has done so following a decision made by the European Olympic Committee to block athletes from Russia and Belarus from taking part in the event.

The IBA has said that the decision “severely damages” the chances of Russian and Belarusian athletes from qualifying for Paris 2024 and that “the European Games can no longer remain an IOC-recognised qualifier … and must be annulled to counteract the discriminatory actions taken by the European Olympic Committee.”

Image: Julian Finney/Getty Images