Controversial Rakhimov's bid to lead boxing body suffers setback

AFP
A closeup of a boxer's glove during a match at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, before the International Olympic Committee in October 2018 froze relations with the International Boxing Association, expressing concerns over "governance problems" (AFP Photo/Yuri CORTEZ )

A closeup of a boxer's glove during a match at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, before the International Olympic Committee in October 2018 froze relations with the International Boxing Association, expressing concerns over "governance problems"

A closeup of a boxer's glove during a match at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, before the International Olympic Committee in October 2018 froze relations with the International Boxing Association, expressing concerns over "governance problems" (AFP Photo/Yuri CORTEZ )

Moscow (AFP) - The Uzbek businessman standing to lead the International Boxing Association (AIBA), despite threats the sport will be thrown out of the Olympics if he wins a weekend vote, suffered a first setback Friday when he failed to win enough support from delegates.

At the opening of a congress in Moscow due to elect a new head of the association on Saturday, Gafur Rakhimov proposed to temporarily withdraw from the position if he is elected, in order to avoid a conflict with the IOC which is worried about his controversial reputation.

"The amendments, that you will vote on this afternoon, will put in place a system that will allow an elected president, whoever that may be, to step aside for a limited period should it be necessary," Rakhimov, previously interim president and one of two candidates for the permanent position, suggested.

The plan would allow the AIBA President to step aside for up to a year while retaining all his rights on the association's executive committee.

But it failed to win the necessary two thirds support from delegates.

Despite the setback, Rakhimov -- who has been linked to organised crime by the US Treasury Department -- remains the favourite candidate for the presidency.

- 'Terrible financial situation' -

Rakhimov has vigorously denied the allegations but in October the International Olympic Committee (IOC) froze relations with AIBA and refused to accredit Rakhimov for the Youth Olympics in Buenos Aires.

"You have probably heard that the IOC has raised some concerns about the AIBA and the position of boxing in the Olympics," said Rakhimov, who stepped aside as acting president before the start of the two-day conference in Moscow.

"I'm happy to report to you that we are addressing all these concerns and are making excellent progress," he told the representatives of more than 200 federation members.

The IOC earlier said it was prepared to kick AIBA out of the Olympic movement and remove boxing from the 2020 Tokyo Games if the "governance problems" in the ruling body were not resolved.

The IOC has been losing patience with boxing since a judging scandal at the 2016 Rio Games when all 36 officials and referees were suspended while allegations of bout-fixing were investigated.

An internal power struggle saw the previous president, Taiwan's CK Wu, ousted.

He was banned after a report by "forensic investigators" K2 Intelligence documented "gross negligence and financial mismanagement of AIBA affairs and finances".

Rakhimov meanwhile said that AIBA has been restructuring its financial management model.

"As many of you know, when I took over from the last administration earlier this year our financial situation was in terrible condition. AIBA had debts that reached almost $40 million," he said.

"I'm happy to report that we have managed to restructure it successfully."

The other candidate for the AIBA president post is Serik Konakbayev, a Kazakh who won the Olympic silver medal at the Moscow Games in 1980 for the Soviet Union.

His participation in the race was thrown into doubt last month when the AIBA election commission barred him for allegedly failing to submit certain forms by a deadline.

But Konakbayev lodged an appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), which ruled against the AIBA decision.

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