The International Boxing Association (IBA) has named Chris Roberts as its permanent secretary general and chief executive after holding the position on an interim basis for the past three months.
Roberts took on the role temporarily after the IBA removed Greece's George Yerolimpos. Prior to that, he served as the IBA development director, taking up that position in July 2022.
The decision to appoint Roberts permanently was taken by the IBA board of directors on Friday (September 15).
IBA president Umar Kremlev said: “Chris Roberts’ proven leadership qualities, unwavering dedication, and insightful strategic vision make him exceptionally suited to steer our organization.
“His wisdom, deep understanding of the sport, and industry, coupled with his commitment to IBA’s goals, will inevitably propel the IBA to new heights of success. I have full confidence in Chris and his ability to serve the IBA well.”
Roberts added: “I would like to thank the board for their trust and support. I am wholeheartedly committed to working hard and doing my utmost for the IBA, taking on this mantle of responsibility, and shaping the organization for future continued success.
“We have many challenges, but with the subject matter expertise that sits within the organization, we are able to manage our objectives with the most desired and positive effect for our members.”
Roberts faces a big task to rebuild the embattled organization after the International Olympic Committee (IOC) confirmed the withdrawal of its membership in June.
That decision was made by an extraordinary IOC session and was based on the recommendation of the IOC’s executive council on June 7.
Because of the IBA’s removal – which could bring an end to a saga that has engulfed boxing for the last few years – the IOC has decided that the IBA will not organize the sport's events at the 2028 Los Angeles Olympic Games.
After the IBA’s original suspension (under the guise of AIBA) in June 2019, the IOC took care of the boxing bouts at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and will do the same at the 2024 games in Paris.
The IOC set out a series of requests in December 2021 in terms of conditions under which the suspension would be lifted but stated that the IBA “failed to fulfill” these conditions.
The organization’s move is unprecedented as no federation has ever been expelled before. At the IOC session, 69 members voted in favor of expelling the IBA, with one voting against it and 10 abstentions.
The IBA said the IOC’s decision represents a “tremendous error” and will be “catastrophic for global boxing.”
In addition to the withdrawal of its membership, the IBA is facing a battle for boxing supremacy after the World Boxing rebel organization launched in mid-April in a bid to save the sport’s Olympic future.
In recent months, 16 members have joined World Boxing, including Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Denmark, Germany, Great Britain, the US, New Zealand, the Netherlands, and Sweden.
Unsurprisingly, the first set of federations to involve themselves with World Boxing (through a presence on its board) are currently facing formal complaints from the IBA.
World Boxing plans to begin the process of seeking formal recognition from the IOC, and then to work with the IOC to ensure boxing’s place on the sports program for future Olympic games – this is currently in serious doubt.