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AIBA in turmoil


PhilBoxing.com



Dr Wu Ching Kuo.

While the Asian Junior Championships were in progress in Puerto Princesa, visiting boxing officials were tight-lipped on their views of how they expect the problem in AIBA to be resolved. Two weeks ago, AIBA president Dr. Wu Ching Kuo of Taiwan came under fire from his own executive committee during a meeting in Moscow as 13 of the 16 attending members submitted a vote of no-confidence. There were two abstentions and only one no vote which naturally came from Dr. Wu. Four members were absent and later declared their support for the no-confidence vote.


Dr. Wu has been accused of serious financial irregularities, particularly stemming from marketing companies that he formed to support AIBA’s thrust into professional boxing through the World Series of Boxing and AIBA Pro Boxing. Over the last two years, Dr. Wu has cracked down on officials within the organization perceived to be in conflict with his vision. He sacked executive director Ho Kim then his successor Karim Bouziki who was the scapegoat in the public clamor to clean up the ranks after a rash of dubious decisions at the Rio Olympics. AIBA treasurer David Francis and financial director Rob Garea recently resigned, probably to escape the blame for questionable transactions.

Since the dark era of the late Dr. Anwar Chowdury, corruption has been a way of life in AIBA. There were attempts to strike out the sport from the Olympic calendar but none ever prospered despite the dirt on the rug. To his credit, Dr. Wu desperately tried to clean up AIBA’s image. Still, a heavy cloud of suspicion hung over the federation with Dr. Wu inheriting the world-wide doubt on the organization’s integrity.

The word is three AIBA officials are jockeying to replace Dr. Wu----Canada’s Pat Fiacco, Italy’s Franco Falcinelli and Wales’ Terry Smith. A rebel group has formed an “interim” executive committee that will orchestrate proceedings to impeach Dr. Wu, if it’s legally possible. One of the first things that the interim body did was to padlock the AIBA office in Lausanne. For a few days, the staff couldn’t report for work. Police eventually unlocked the doors. The padlocking was done without a court order so that it was virtually an act of anarchy. Surely, Dr. Wu deserves his day in court. The IOC, meanwhile, has taken over the AIBA office in an effort to stabilize the deteriorating situation.

Within three months, AIBA will convene an extraordinary congress to settle Dr. Wu’s fate, possibly in Dubai. At the moment, Dr. Wu is reportedly courting the support of African countries in an attempt to consolidate his position. But he appears to be losing ground as several countries in Europe, Africa and the Americas are calling for a change in leadership with the bandwagon quickly filling up. If it comes down to a vote among AIBA’s member countries all over the world, Dr. Wu might be forced out of power. Impeachment is a threat and if Dr. Wu finds his position indefensible, he’ll likely resign to avoid the shame of an ungraceful exit.

ABAP executive director Ed Picson said the Philippine vote is still up in the air. “We’re taking a wait-and-see attitude,” said Picson. “If there are irregularities pointing to Dr. Wu as the culprit, we’d like to examine the evidence. We will support what is good for boxing. We will support what is good for Asia.”

In the wake of the leadership crisis, Picson wondered who will supervise the AIBA World Championships for Men to be held in Hamburg on Aug. 25-Sept. 3. “With what’s happening in AIBA, we don’t know who’s in charge,” he said. “No matter what, I think the competition will go on and we’re bringing two fighters who qualified.” The two Filipinos are lightflyweight Rogen Ladon and flyweight Daniel Maamo who made it via the Asian Championships in Uzbekistan last May. A third Filipino, middleweight Eumir Marcial, booked a ticket to Hamburg but ABAP decided to send him to Kuala Lumpur for the SEA Games instead.

Picson said while it is more prestigious to compete at the world level, there is pressure to deliver at the SEA Games. “If we don’t win the gold at the SEA Games, we’ll never hear the end of it,” he said. The Philippines has never hit paydirt at the World Championships, settling for two silvers and three bronzes. Roel Velasco bagged a silver in Budapest in 1997 and Harry Tanamor did it in Chicago in 2007. Tanamor also claimed a bronze in Belfast in 2001 and in Bangkok in 2003. Ladon brought home a bronze from Doha in 2015.

Marcial, 21, won the gold at the World Junior Championships in Astana in 2011 and at the SEA Games in 2015. He’ll be counted on for a gold in the coming SEA Games. The other boxers in the Philippine squad bound for Kuala Lumpur are lightflyweight Carlo Paalam, flyweight Ian Clark Bautista, bantamweight Mario Fernandez, lightwelterweight Charly Suarez and lightheavyweight John Marvin.


Click here to view a list of other articles written by Joaquin Henson.


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