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By Ronnie Nathanielsz

Sun, 29 May 2016

Dr. Wu.

The present leadership of AIBA, the Alliance of International Boxing Associations under its president Dr. Wu Kuo-Ching of Chinese-Taipei who is also a member of the International Olympic Committee Executive Board has re-established its integrity as an organization free of the kind of corruption that was rampant during the presidency of his predecessor Prof. Anwar Chowdhry of Pakistan who, in 2007 was barred for life from any involvement with AIBA for alleged mismanagement of federation funds.
This simply means that in the present environment Filipino boxers have a better chance of winning in major international competitions.

Despite the ban, Chowdhry who was chairman of the Pakistan Boxing Federation remained the most powerful man in boxing in Pakistan as neither the Pakistan Olympic Association nor the Pakistan Sports Board took any action against Chowdhry after the ban.

Dr. Wu won election by a slim margin of votes of 83-79 over Chowdhry on November 6, 2006 in Sto Domingo with what the AIBA described as ?high hopes of reforming AIBA into a transparent, trusted and professionally operated governing body.?

Since his assumption of the top post AIBA has become what is regarded as a ?respected and model organization where efficiency, honesty and equality are ever present? even as he continues to build on the qualities of AIBA and ?reach for higher, bolder goals that will bring boxing into a category of its own.?

ABAP executive director Ed Picson in a lengthy conversation with The Standard said ?under Wu there is no corruption compared to Chowdhry ? not by a long shot.?

Picson clarified his statement, ? I?m not saying there?s none because I don?t know that but there may be some influence in it. In the past there was barefaced corruption during Chowdhry?s time. You?d see people bringing suitcases full of money.?

ABAP executive director Ed Picson.

In the past ABAP officials revealed they were forced to bribe Chowdhry or his henchmen as much as $5,000 merely to be assured of a fair decision while then Filipino?s opponents did the same thing.

Such revelations angered Chowdhry who vowed that no Filipinos will win medals in major international competitions.

It's different under Dr. Wu as Picson revealed ?he strikes me as a decent fellow. He was schooled in England. He conducts himself in a very proper manner. He is a gentleman. He is articulate and has introduced so many measures like the choice of referees and judges.?

The executive director said ?I cant for the life of me see how somebody can get to the referees and judges? and enumerated various measures instituted by Dr. Wu to maintain integrity.

No. 1 they are isolated, even the technical officials. "I am not allowed to even talk to my wife" (who is a top official of AIBA in the technical committee) and ruefully remarked ?Everybody makes a joke about it. But if they see me talking to Karina she?ll be sent home. That?s how strict they are.?

2. They officials are ?not allowed to bring their cellphones and when they go to the gym the referees and judges don?t know which bouts they are going to officiate because they are told only one bout before.?

3. There are 5 judges appointed for each bout, but only 3 will count. It's computerized with the seats numbered 1 to 5 and you don?t know which seat you are going to be assigned to until before the fight when you draw a pingpong ball with a number on it. And then you don?t know whether your scores will be counted or not because the computer only comes out with the seat numbers and chooses the scores to be tallied after the bout. That?s why you see judges looking up to the scoreboard to see if their scores counted.?

Picson emphasized ?It's very difficult. You?ll have to bribe all of the 40 or 50 people? but then again eased up by stating ?there are human hands and every time there are human hands there is somebody who?ll find a way. I don?t know how.?

Chowdhry ran afoul of AIBA after respected researcher and journalist Kristen Sparre reported that the executive committee of the International Boxing Federation (AIBA) had ?begun a regular show-down with the legacy of corruption the organization inherited from former president Anwar Chowdhry. Based on a report from its own ethics commission, AIBA banned the former president for life and expelled its suspended secretary general, Caner Doganelli.?

The television station NBC Sports obtained a copy of the report which outlines a series of financial irregularities during Chowdhry?s 20 year long reign from 1986 to 2006.

According to NBC Sport, the report says that ?AIBA?s financial reports routinely were not filed; documentation for expenses were variously unclear or missing; the federation operated amid a number of finance-related conflicts of interest; and petty cash was improperly used for private affairs and not properly accounted for.?

The report also noted that Chowdhry treated AIBA as his ?personal property where rules were disregarded and greed was rampant.? In all, the report described the Chowdhry years as ?a saga of bad or poor management, dereliction of duty, total lack of governance, greed, breach of rules and law, gross negligence and possibly criminal acts cascading down from the very top of AIBA?s former administration.?

The ethics report was based on an auditor?s report for the period 2003-2006, and at a meeting in Lausanne, Switzerland AIBA agreed to ?immediately, irrevocably and definitely part with all officials or bodies connected with irregularities cited in the report.?

This included the federation?s ousted secretary general, Caner Doganelli.

According to NBC Sports? peek into the AIBA ethics commission report, Doganelli has denied any wrongdoing and strongly and repeatedly insisted that blame lies ?nearly exclusively? with Chowdhry whom Donganelli tried to ?oppose from the inside for the benefit of AIBA.?

The reform process began when Dr. Wu was narrowly elected new president of AIBA. He expressed satisfaction over the decision.
According to an AIBA press statement Dr. Wu remarked, ?This is a clear and tangible sign that in the new AIBA, we will not tolerate any violation of the AIBA code of ethics. We are well on the way to restoring confidence and credibility within this organization and today's decision will advance that process even further.?

It is against this cleansed environment that the Philippines continues its quest for an elusive Olympic gold medal in boxing where two fighters have already qualified for the Rio Olympics ? lightweight Charly Suarez and light flyweight Rogen Ladon.
The team is also hoping that with the Olympics open to pro boxers in an innovative but controversial decision that has been assailed most especially by World Boxing Council president Mauricio Sulaiman and astute Top Rank promoter Bob Arum who has categorized the inclusion of amateurs in the Olympics as ?sheer madness, ? eight division world champion Manny Pacquiao will make a decision before May 27 to fire the Philippine quest for gold.

Arum who has exerted considerable influence over Manny who was recently proclaimed a senator of the Philippines with over 16 million votes, told The Standard ?Manny owes an obligation the people who elected him to the senate and needs to fulfill that obligation, while expressing the hope that Pacquiao who announced his retirement after a lopsided win over Timothy ?Desert Storm? Bradley in their third fight because ?he has a lot of work to do in the senate? where he has a significant role to play.

Pacquiao has made it absolutely clear that his desire it to try and end the Philippines quest for a coveted gold medal and has nothing to do with money.

Should Pacquiao decide against competing in Rio it would be his last chance since he will be over the age limit of 40 when the Tokyo Olympics take place in 2020.

The case of Pacquiao who was offered a chance for a ?wild card? entry by Dr. Wu which would spare him from competing in the elimination rounds of the Rio Games was clarified by Picson who told us Dr. Wu had called him and said ?let me know (Pacquiao?s decision) because he (Manny) must decide first, then we talk.?
Picson told us that Dr. Wu had called him as early as January to indicate ?he could swing a ?wild card? entry? for Pacquiao with the approval of the IOC, The Association of National Olympic Committees under president Sheikh Ahmad A-Fahad- Al Sabah of Kuwait and AIBA itself.

Picson noted that only five weight categories are available for the ?wild card? one of which is the junior welterweight division that the ABAP has left open in case Pacquiao decides to compete in the Rio Olympics which would be his last chance since he would be over the 40 year age limit for the 2020 Tokyo Games.

The alternate to Pacquiao is Dennis Galvan who won a gold medal in the Southeast Asian Games beating Indonesia?s Arjan Bachtila in Palembeng in 2011 and a silver two years later in Myanmar when he lost to a truly talented Thai boxer Wuttichai Masuk the 2009 Asian Amateur Boxing Championship gold medalist who went on to win the gold medal at the 2014 Asian Games.

Picson noted that we still have about three weeks to go and the coaches have a program starting with endurance and ending in speed. They have certain drills, exercises and sparring sessions with other boxers in the national pool and assessed them as being ?spot on.?

The father/trainer of five division world champion Nonito ?The Filipino Flash? Donaire, ?Dodong? Donaire is helping out coaches Nonito ?Boy? Velasco and Romeo Brin who are all three-star coaches.

Picson pointed out that ?you need to be a three-star coach to be a second and work in the corner.?

The executive director was confident and expected ?our boys to give it their all. I expect a tough competition but expect them to be able to hold their own against the best there is.?

But he indicated ?I will not be foolhardy enough to guarantee qualification but what I can promise is they will be at their best and their best should be good enough.?

However there are so many factors including the luck of the draw and the recognition that ?the judges sometimes even if they are not corrupt, are incompetent and at times not attentive.? All of these factors need to be taken into consideration.

With the AIBA president certain that the June 1 congress in Lausanne will approve the proposal to allow professionals to compete in the Olympic Games beginning with Rio, ABAP is in the meantime paying attention to the boxers who qualified in the tournament in China. Rogen Ladon won a silver medal losing to Hasanboy Dusmatov of Uzbekistan in the light flyweight division while Charly Suarez was beaten by Mongolia?s Dorinyambuugiin Otgondalai and also settled for a silver medal.

Picson revealed that Suarez was complaining about some discomfort in his jaw and the thing is that he has ?drilled it into their heads that if you feel anything at all let us know and we?ll go to the doctor. No ifs and buts about it. Don?t say it?s nothing because it could be something. We don?t want to get caught when the tournament is about to begin and you tell me it?s gotten worse. It?s happened before and I tell them we don?t want this happening again so now for every itch they go to the doctor. That?s fine.?

It's Manny Pangilinan who owns The Makati Medical Center, St. Louis or Notre Dame and its all charged to our budget but that?s okay.

Charly Suarez (R).

When we mentioned that ?Dodong? Donaire told us he believes Suarez is a real gold medal prospect Picson replied ?I think Charly is in the elite level of boxers in AIBA and he?s proven it time and again. But there?s just one last hump he needs to hurdle. One thing with Charly is he?s been after the Olympics for the longest time. When he didn?t make it to London he got so many offers to turn pro with signing bonuses of up to P1 million and he turned them all down because he said his dream is to get to the Olympics and win there.?

According to Ed, Suarez ?is properly motivated, very determined and is very focused on his mission. Amongst all of them he is the most serious about this. Besides he is the most mature at 28. He doesn?t allow extraneous factors get to him except for his Bible study. He mouths bible verses every sentence like Manny Pacquiao.?

He described light flyweight Ladon as a good boy who ?cant believe that he is there and says, ?since I am there now I?m not going to let this go.?

Rogen Ladon (L).

Ladon has ?always been in the shadow of (London Olympian Mark Barriga) and actually came up because when I asked Barriga at the time he was preparing for the 2012 Olympics when we brought them around to Cebu and Bacolod to train who he wanted as a regular sparring partner ?I was surprised when he picked Ladon because Ladon was always in the fringes and when I asked him why he said he is the guy who gives me the most problems.?

He is good but not flashy, not spectacular but he?s pesky. He?s always there all over you. He is a quiet worker. He was our surprise in the SEA games.

Picson recalls he got flak from the POC/PSC for bringing Ladon. They asked ?who is this guy he is a nobody, you should bring Barriga. We are going to cut the allowances of all your boxers if you insist on that guy.?

But when Ladon won the silver medal they all shut up. They also questioned Junel Cantancio and inquired why not Suarez and I told them ?you don?t bring Gilas to the SEA games. you don?t need to bring those guys and Cantancio won gold.?

Despite the prodding by some journalists the ABAP official claimed ?I never said its vindication. We came here to win and now that we won we are happy and everyone should be happy. Nobody came up to say sorry but that?s okay.?

He drove home the undeniable fact, ?we know these guys. we work with them every day. We know what they can do.?

They said the same thing about Boncales when we brought him to China. He was a nobody but he won his first fight with aplomb but lost his second fight in a very close decision.

Mario Fernandez has always been wily and in 2011 I told you watch out for this guy who I saw in Cagayan de Oro fighting for Bukidnon. He?s such a clever boxer and he?s fast. He?s everywhere. He is not a strong puncher but he can score the points. When he scored a KO in the SEA Games he was surprised but you know if you time your punch well you can knock somebody out ? and he did.

He is not known for his power but he can kill you with his speed and a barrage of punches.

In China he won the bronze in the Asian qualifying event. He should have won silver.

The ABAP headed by its president Ricky Vargas is hoping that we can qualify at least two more boxers for Rio and with the present environment of integrity in the sport, the long painful drought of waiting for a celebrated gold medal will ultimately end and our nation and people can rejoice.

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