TOP officials of the Association of Boxing Alliances in the Philippines (ABAP) left for Moscow on Monday to attend the AIBA Congress where the future of the sport ahead of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics will be tackled.
ABAP president Ricky Vargas and secretary-general Ed Picson departed for the Russian capital for the Nov. 2-3 meeting where a new set of officers of the world boxing body will also be elected.
The Congress will be held on Nov. 2 while the election is set the following day.
AIBA is currently under interim head Gafur Rahimov of Uzbekistan, who could run unopposed as president.
But Gafur’s ascendancy in AIBA’s highest office as replacement for the resigned CK Wu has worried the International Olympic Committee (IOC) owing to his alleged links to ‘organized crime.’
Gafur had been described by the US Treasury Department as one of Uzbekistan’s ‘leading criminals’ and ‘an important person involved in the heroin trade, whose assets in American jurisdiction has been frozen.'
People close to Gafur however, denied the allegations which they said are just part of a smear campaign against him.
Picson said Serik Konakbayev of Kazakhstan could likely face Gafur for the AIBA leadership.
“Magde-decide yung CAS (Court of Arbitration for Sports) kung papayagan si Serik Konakbayev na kumandidato,” said Picson from Moscow.
The result of the AIBA election could also have a big say on whether boxing will be included in the calendar of events of the Tokyo Games. The IOC earlier said it retained ‘the rights to exclude boxing from Tokyo 2020’ if Rakhimov would be elected president and the federation would not address the issue on corruption and unfair decisions such as the one that marred the recent Asian Games in Indonesia.
Picson admitted AIBA executive director Tom Virgets spoke to him after the Asiad and told him the issue will be addressed during the congress.
“These are measures which we hope could lead to a cleansing of the sport. It’s a tall order I think, but we have to believe, otherwise umalis na lang tayo. Sabi nga nila, ‘if you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen,” said Picson.
Vargas, who is also president of the Philippine Olympic Committee (POC), will try to have his voice heard during the meeting, Picson said.
“Are we going to tolerate it or should we try and do something about it? That’s the path that we have taken.”
Boxing has contributed the most number of Olympic medals for the Philippines with five, including two of the silver medals it had won courtesy of the late Anthony Villanueva and Mansueto ‘Onyok’ Velasco.