USA Boxing has endorsed the campaign of Boris van der Vorst, the Dutchman seeking to replace Umar Kremlev as International Boxing Association (IBA) President at the organisation’s Extraordinary Congress in Yerevan.
Kremlev was returned as President unopposed at the Extraordinary Congress in Istanbul in May, after van der Vorst was one of the candidates for elected positions deemed ineligible to stand by Boxing Independent Integrity Unit (BIIU) on the eve of the vote.
However, the van der Vorst successfully appealed to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).
A vote is set to be held at the Extraordinary Congress on whether to re-hold the election, and if approved, van der Vorst would then contest Russian official Kremlev for the IBA Presidency in the Armenian capital.
Kremlev has led IBA since December 2020, and overseen governance reforms and a change in the governing body’s acronym from IBA.
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However, efforts to salvage boxing’s place on the Olympic programme from Los Angeles 2028 remain ongoing.
IBA has been stripped of its rights to organise boxing at Paris 2024 for the second consecutive Olympics, and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) said earlier this month that it continues to have “grave concerns” over its governance.
USA Boxing President Tyson Lee has declared that the organisation is set to back van der Vorst, citing fears for boxing’s future at the Olympics without change.
“This is not only an indictment on our current leadership, but it’s an indictment on us all,” he said.
“We all share responsibility here.
“If we as a Congress will not make the necessary changes to adhere to the IOC’s requirements for re-inclusion into the Olympic Games, then we are all responsible for denying our athletes the possibility to accomplish their dreams.”
With Kremlev having been President since December 2020, Lee wrote that he believes IBA has a “leadership issue”.
He later wrote in his letter to National Federation Presidents and general secretaries that “I don’t dislike anyone personally in the current administration” and recognised “efforts to improve IBA”, but insisted “it’s time for a change”.
He argued that van der Vorst has “committed to specifically address these issues with the IOC which will allow us to continue with what makes our organization relevant, inclusion in the Olympic movement”.
Lee also referenced a pledge from van der Vorst that he will resign as President if he failed “to restore IOC financial contributions to the IBA, unlock additional Olympic Solidarity funds for boxing, and form the Boxing Independent Integrity Unit to protect boxers and National Federations” within his first 100 days, and step down if boxing’s inclusion at Los Angeles 2028 is not secured within one year.
Addressing smaller National Federations, Lee said: “Boris has asked me to lead a Task Force that will specifically assist emerging nations in obtaining the equipment you need such as rings, gloves, training facilities, training of R&Js [referees and judges] and competitions that will enhance your programs and provide your boxers with the necessary resources to be competitive.”
Lee expressed hope that the Extraordinary Congress will vote to re-stage the Presidential election, and that “we won’t have any more shenanigans in Armenia this time as we did in Turkey”.
USA Boxing executive director Mike McAtee was also declared ineligible by the BIIU as he sought a position on the IBA Board of Directors in May.
The CAS also ruled that he should have been permitted to stand in the election.
However, elections to Board positions are not on the agenda for the Extraordinary Congress in Yerevan.
Lee, McAtee and United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee director of international strategies and development Dragomir Cioroslan are set to comprise the USA Boxing delegation for the IBA Extraordinary Congress.