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Boxing: 'Changing of the Guard' at AIBA HQ as Karim Bouzidi replaces 'dismissed' Ho Kim as AIBA Executive Director
by Michael O'Neill
June 10, 2015
     
   
   

(JUNE 10) Recently we brought you news of the appointment of Mr William Louis-Marie as the new PR & Communications Director of the AIBA, an appointment which has been well received in ‘amateur’ boxing circles. Today’s news from AIBA HQ of another ‘change’ at ‘the top table’ comes as more of a surprise with news of the ‘dismissal’ of Mr Ho Kim from his role as AIBA Executive Director.

A terse statement from AIBA said:

“Dr Ching-Kuo Wu, President of AIBA, International Boxing Association, announced today the dismissal of Mr Ho Kim from his position as AIBA Executive Director with immediate effect.

In order to ensure that there is no interruption to the work of AIBA and in accordance with Article 39.2(H), Dr Wu has immediately appointed the current Deputy Executive Director Mr Karim Bouzidi, to the position of Executive Director. Mr. Karim Bouzidi also remains Chief Executive Officer of World Series of Boxing.

Dr Wu declared: “It is time for AIBA and the world of boxing to move in the new direction and therefore I feel that new vision and leadership are paramount for us to achieve our four year plan, which was unanimously approved at the AIBA Congress in Jeju. I would like to thank Mr Kim for his contribution to the development of AIBA and the respectful relationships we have maintained during his 8 years tenure”.

Now of course we at WBAN have no ‘inside information’ as to the reasons for this unexpected change but it is highly unusual for the word ‘dismissal’ to be used rather than say ‘resigned by mutual consent’ or something similar. No further statement is expected from the AIBA on that subject.

It has to be said though that Mr Ho Kim was far from popular in many boxing countries whether within the boxing family (boxers, coaches ,families) or within media circles and hopefully this new appointment of Mr Karim Bouzidi will ‘steady the ship’ as indeed should the recent appointment of William Louis-Marie in the Communications role. (We do stress that the communications team at AIBA and some of its Confederations have always been very helpful but the new appointment should strengthen that key role further).

There is an URGENT need to ensure that there are excellent communication channels in all its Confederations, some are very helpful but even there, the Press Releases are often littered with poor spelling ,layout etc. That may be due to a lack of funding from AIBA rather than fault of the Confederations but standards vary greatly and boxing is all the poorer as a result. Never has it been more important for sports organisations to keep its members fully informed but judging by the number of enquiries we get that is far from the case at this time.

Mr William Louis-Marie has an extensive experience in world-class event and sport communications, media relations and promotions, having previously worked as Communications Director for the Baku 2015 European Games.

“I am thrilled to join AIBA and contribute to the strong development of boxing under the vision of the AIBA President, Dr Ching-Kuo Wu. The noble art is gaining massive attraction all over the world and the coming months will reinforce boxing’s amazing appeal with numerous high-profile continental events and the AIBA World Boxing Championships Doha 2015 leading up to the Rio 2016 Olympic Games”, Mr Louis-Marie expressed.

Mr William Louis-Marie previously worked for the Atlanta 1996 Olympic Games and the France 1998 FIFA World Cup as Communications Manager for Coca Cola France. Moreover, he held the position of Senior Vice President of Trace TV, managing the launch of Trace Sports.

WBAN looks forward to now hearing much more positive news coming from the AIBA and especially let us hope that women’s boxing will once more be promoted in the way President Ching-Kuo Wu promised after the 2014 AIBA Women’s World Championships in Jeju. Remember what he told the media on his re-appointment as AIBA President?

Dr. Wu also outlined his key priorities for the coming four years, which included:

Ensuring that more women were appointed to leadership positions in boxing;

Establishing a ‘boxer centered ’ organization by opening the doors for boxers to take up leadership positions;

Continuing to expand the World Series of Boxing (WSB) competition and the AIBA Pro-Boxing competition (APB), while at the same time increasing their commercial value;

Investing the revenues from Elite competitions into developing future generations of boxers by targeting funds towards the grassroots of the sport around the world.

At the close of Congress, delegates unanimously adopted ‘The Jeju Declaration’, endorsing the initiatives taken by AIBA to fulfil its mission to govern the sport of boxing in all of its forms.

The Jeju Declaration also included resolutions to support:

The building of a tangible and protected career plan for AIBA boxers;

The continued development of Women’s boxing at all levels;

The harmonisation of technical rules for all AIBA competitions, as well as the removal of headguards in Elite Men’s competitions;

Protection of the image and reputation of the International Boxing Association from any ill-intentioned external influence;

Prevention and sanctions for any instances of corruption, matching fixing, gambling and violence inside or outside the ring;

Maintaining the principle of not using the word “Amateur” in AIBA sport programs, as well as avoiding being perceived as a “Combat and Martial Arts” sport – and instead protecting boxing’s ancient heritage as the “Noble Art”.

Since then there would appear to have been little of note that would encourage women either those already in the sport or any new initiatives to increase the number of young women taking up the ‘amateur sport’. Much of this though is down to their local national associations of which a few have been very good including USA, Canada, Ireland, Italy, Australia and Great Britain) – others have done little, others still may have done but if so have not made it public.

Instead we have had controversies such as ‘headgear for women’ but not for men with no explanation. If as the AIBA said there was evidence that fewer cuts and other injuries, concussions etc were proven to be the case due to the “no headgear” rule then why was that evidence NOT published and why if the AIBA deemed it necessary to make women wear headgear as is still the case? Either there is medically accepted evidence that it is safer (which does not seem to be the case (if it is why not publish it)?

WBAN repeats again that we hold no view on the “headgear/no headgear” issues since we await publication of any such evidence from those for or those against – there remains a major difference of opinion from ‘opposing camps’.

We do however find it odd, very odd, that there is no seeding for women at many AIBA World and Confederation championships whilst there IS seeding for men. Why one rule for males and a different one for females? How can the AIBA justify this difference (some would call it discrimination)?

With Baku 2015 starting on Friday, the AIBA today offered this explanation to WBAN:

“According to Appendix C of the AOB Competition rule 2.1. The following Seeding System will apply for the coming competitions (for both Men and Women unless otherwise stated):

2.1.1.Olympic Games

2.1.2.AIBA World Championships

2.1.3.Continental Multi-Sport Games, taking place after September 2016

2.1.4.Men Elite Confederation Championships

This rule and in particular point 2.1.3 has recently been amended by AIBA, as you may be aware, to allow seeding for men boxers in Baku 2015. The objective is that Baku 2015 will be an indirect Olympic qualification for men boxers, while women will be competing for medals and ranking bearing in mind the World Championships and Confederation Games are the main remaining opportunities for them to qualify for the Olympic Games.

The seeding system implemented for the European Games in Baku gives 3 quotas per each weight category allowing 3 top-ranked boxers to compete in the World Championships in Doha in order to directly qualify for the Olympic Games in Rio 2016.”

We find this less than convincing. What it also means is a much greater expense for boxers, coaches and families of women competitors in Baku than for men. To give you but one example: two or more of the top female boxers could be drawn in the same group at any weight and thus a few could already be eliminated within a day or two of arrival. Is it reasonable to expect families to travel all the way to Baku for the whole of the tournament just in case their daughter reaches the final? Living costs in Azerbaijan are very high not to mention travel expenses, accommodation for the 10 days of boxing. What if their boxer get defeated in the preliminary rounds? Are they still expected to remain there for the whole of the time? If they have NOT booked that expensive accommodation from the outset they will pay even more if they wait until the last minute to travel. And do they have to purchase 10 days tickets just to be sure of best seats being available if their boxer does reach a final?

That would be ‘unreasonable enough’ if same ‘no seeding’ rule applied to males but it does not. They are seeded so that there is little likelihood of their meeting until the quarter-finals, semi-final or final of the tournament. Women were also subject to no seeding at the 2014 AIBA World Championships in Jeju. WBAN would be delighted to be convinced our interpretation is wrong and we once again offer the AIBA the opportunity of using our pages to explain their reasons for no seeding for women and tell us why we are wrong?

We welcome Mr Karim Bouzidi and Mr William Louis-Marie to their new AIBA roles and hope that together with Dr Ching-Kuo Wu they can restore our faith in the AIBA’s endeavours to promote women’s boxing worldwide and that includes in the APB and WSB and no later than end of 2015 though preferably before.

Meantime we repeat our previous petition (Spanish as well as English versions exist) and ask all members of the AIBA family including boxers (male and female), and supporters. Remember too that you have our agreement to  https://www.change.org/p/petition-increase-weight-classes-for-female-boxers-in-2016-olympic-games-in-rio-de-janeiro
WBAN Petition - English
WBAN Petition-Spanish

Meantime do NOT hesitate to pass on that petition to your families,friends and fellow sporting club members as the more that sign the petition the better. We feel sure that armed with many thousands of signatures AIBA President Dr Ching Kuo-Wu will be able to present an even stronger case to Thomas Bach and his I.O.C Executive colleagues as to why the number of weights for women should be significantly increased for Tokyo 2020 and with full equality with men by 2024 at very latest. Anything less would be a betrayal of the aims of the Olympic Charter of which the I.O.C and all their sporting organisations including the AIBA are signatories.

 
     
     
   
 
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