BFI set to join World Boxing in bid to get the sport back into LA 2028 programme

The Indian boxing body also says it will continue competing in IBA events for the sake of boxers
BFI set to join World Boxing in bid to get the sport back into LA 2028 programme

CHENNAI: In a dramatic development, the Boxing Federation of India (BFI) has agreed to join the World Boxing, the newly-formed governing body. It was formed after the International Olympic Committee (IOC) refused to recognize the International Boxing Association (IBA). This was announced on the sidelines of the World Olympic qualifiers being held in Bangkok and the BFI affiliation will be ratified at the WB executive board.

The BFI, however, is saying that as far as tournaments go, they would like to continue participating in events organized by the IBA for the sake of boxers and the sport. It needs to be seen how IBA reacts to this. India has joined countries like the US, Canada, Sweden, Germany and Great Britain, part of the original members of the WB. BFI president Ajay Singh is still the IBA vice president (according to the IBA website).

Joining WB became imperative after the IOC had once again reiterated that National Federations affiliated with the IBA would not be allowed to feature at the Olympics. The New Indian Express has also highlighted the IOC statement after the IBA had announced prize-money for Olympic medalists at the Paris Games. The IOC had said: "any boxer whose National Federation adheres to the IBA, will not be able to participate in the Olympic Games LA28. The respective NOC will have to exclude such a National Boxing Federation from its membership."

The BFI president, during an interaction with select media, said that India had been in dialogue with the WB for a while and was mindful of IOC’s stand on IBA and its members. Singh also highlighted IOC’s statement during the conversation. However, for BFI, it was a tactical decision keeping in mind the boxers’ benefits. In fact, WB chief Boris van de Vorst had visited India in May and had discussions with the BFI and the general assembly gave its nod. The WB was formed last year to keep boxing as part of the Olympic programme and even on Friday, the WB chief said that their main goal would be to reinstate boxing as soon as the LA Games (as it stands, the sport will miss out).

The BFI will be pivotal for mobilizing the regional bloc. “This is a body that is promoted and supported by the IOC and I think it is our responsibility as a leading boxing power to ensure that we now strengthen the new body and make sure that we put the systems and processes in place and get other countries to join the body. Also ensure that this body helps boxing develop and grow in India and around the world,” said Singh. “India expects to play a leading role in setting up the Asian Confederation of the WB and we also hope to host that Asian Confederation in New Delhi.”

The WB has been in touch with the IOC, especially after the Court of Arbitration for Sports (CAS) ruled against the IBA’s recognition. “We need to get provisional recognition at the end of this year and boxing has to be included in the beginning of 2025. We know what kind of requirements we have to fulfill to get the provisional recognition back. We are one year in existence and it is really a tough job but we are determined as boxing leaders that we will get there,” he said.

In fact, the WB is meeting other countries in Bangkok where they have a lounge allocated at an IOC-conducted event. The New Indian Express had highlighted IOC’s intention last year and in April this year after the CAS development wherein the IOC had said that the onus is on the NFs and the National Olympic Committees (NOCs) to get boxing back in the Olympics.

However, the BFI chief said as far as joining WB is concerned, talks were on for quite some time. “We started the process quite early and reached an agreement with the WB in early May because it was clear to us which direction the IOC was going. The IOC made it clear which direction they would want the sport to take," Singh said.

WB has targeted 50 members to be able to get recognition for the Olympics. "Right now we have 30 members and we have to reach a target of 50 members to be able to get provisional recognition for the Olympics," the WB chief said. "That is an important number. There are other requirements as well like governance, officiating," he added.

“It is important to have more feet on the ground in Asia. It is important for us to develop Asia along with India. We already have Mongolia and Phillippines but India is another league for us. They have shown real leadership and development in recent years and with the help of India we can develop Asia as a serious confederation,” he said.

The BFI chief also said that the Asian Confederation will comprise the central Asian countries and south Asian countries as well. Interestingly, it needs to be seen how long the central Asian nations are seen close to the IBA. It needs to be seen how things pan out in Bangkok where the WB officials are meeting other boxing units as well.

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