Keith McConnell, the International Olympic Committee’s (IOC) sporting director, was clear: “The International Boxing Union (IBC) will not be involved in any way in whether – and I say clearly, if – boxing is included in the Olympic program of 2028 in Los Angeles”.

Boxing is currently not included as a sport in the games that will take place in four years, as McConnell emphasized a few days ago during an IOC press conference. Boxing will be included in 2028 only “if there is a new boxing association, which will have the support of the national associations and with which we can work harmoniously”.

Boxing has a long tradition in the Olympic Games – it was already included in the events of antiquity and since 1904 it is also part of the modern Olympic Games.

In October 2023, the IOC General Assembly definitively revoked the Olympic rights of the Faculty. The latter had already been suspended since 2019, among other things because there were suspicions of corruption and match manipulation.

The faculty is headed by the Russian Umar Kremlev, a close confidant of Russian President Putin. The Union’s main source of funding is the Russian state company Gazprom.

The 27 Unions are not enough for the approval of the IOC

In the 2021 summer games in Tokyo it was the IOC itself that organized the Olympic boxing tournament. And for the next matches in Paris, an IOC council is again in charge: the Paris Boxing Unit. As the IOC has made clear many times, however, this is not going to continue. Under normal circumstances, the respective international associations and not the IOC are responsible for the Olympic organization of each sport.

Last year some national associations turned their backs on the FA and founded a new international association under the name “World Boxing”. “We have realized that this is the only way to save Olympic boxing. And we proceeded with determination to implement it,” Michael Miller tells DW. The sports director of the German Boxing Association (DVB) was among the leaders of the “revolution” against the DEP. He now sits on the board of directors of World Boxing.

So far, 27 national associations have joined World Boxing, including that of the USA, the most successful country in Olympic boxing. However, the IOC cannot officially recognize the new association, as long as it has so few members – at the same time the FA claims it still has 195 member associations.

The faculty is struggling to maintain its strength

Germany still appears on the list of faculty members, with the designation of “provisional”. “The faculty is trying hard to maintain its influence. That’s why he helped found a new German association, the German National Boxing Association,” explains Miller.

“The money behind this new association comes from the Faculty, probably from Gazprom. This is something that the general secretary of the association also confirmed without hesitation. In this way, a desperate attempt is made to destabilize DVB. Something similar is happening in other countries” – as for example in Brazil, where the official national association also joined World Boxing and then a new association was founded, loyal to the DEP.

So far, however, World Boxing has far more members than Europe, North and Latin America and Oceania. African and Asian associations are still reserved – probably because the financially strong faculty promise them a lot of money.

Miller also adds that there is a different plan behind World Boxing: “We want to invest in the sport. In professional referees, electronic gloves and mouth guards, as well as in ‘objective’ camera systems, in order for decision-making to be truly neutral and objective. Of course, this costs money. But everything else comes second.”

The CAS decision is final

Much will depend on a decision by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), expected in two to three weeks. The Faculty filed a lawsuit against the IOC’s suspension of its Olympic rights. But Miller believes that the faculty’s legal battle will not bear fruit.

“The facts are clear. The faculty has violated a significant part of the Olympic Charter,” Miller emphasizes. “However, the IOC is obliged to maintain a neutral stance until the decision is issued. If CAS rules in favor of the IOC, then we will always be available for discussions.”

IOC sports director McConnell clarified that there is no specific timetable for what will happen next. He only said: “Now a lot rests in the hands of the national associations if they want boxing to continue to exist in the Olympic Games.” In other words: they should join the new union.

Miller remains cool. “If the IOC transfers the Olympic rights to World Boxing, then it is clear: only the associations that are members of World Boxing will be able to participate in the qualifiers for Los Angeles and the Olympic tournament,” the German boxing official told DW. “You will see how quickly countries will decide in favor of fairness and transparency in the field of sport. That’s why I’m very optimistic.”

Edited by: Giorgos Passas