By Liam Morgan
Russia’s Umar Kremlev has been elected President of the International Boxing Association (AIBA) after four rounds of voting at the organisation’s virtual Extraordinary Congress today.
Kremlev, secretary general of the Russian Boxing Federation and a member of the AIBA Executive Committee, received 86 votes to defeat Boris van der Vorst of The Netherlands and Interim AIBA President Mohamed Moustahsane.
Van der Vorst claimed 45 votes in round four, with Moustahsane earning 19.
Azerbaijan’s Suleyman Mikayilov was the first of the five candidates standing to become the first permanent AIBA President since Gafur Rakhimov stood down in March 2019 following allegations he was involved in heroin trafficking, which he denies, to be eliminated from the contest.
Mikayilov was followed by Asian Boxing Confederation head Anas Al Otaiba, who failed to progress beyond round three.
The pair had been expected to be Kremlev’s main challengers.
Kremlev, mentioned in the International Olympic Committee (IOC) report used as the basis to suspend AIBA as the Olympic governing body for the sport and strip it of any involvement in the boxing tournament at Tokyo 2020 in June last year, defeated his challengers in round four when he surpassed the absolute majority of 75 votes required for victory.
The Russian, also a first vice-president of the European Boxing Confederation, replaces Moustahsane, who had been in interim charge since Rakhimov resigned.
His main task will be to ensure AIBA’s status with the IOC is restored in time for the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris.
Umar Kremlev promised to wipe out AIBA’s $50 million debt during his first press conference as the world governing body’s new President after securing victory in the virtual Presidential election.
“Let me make it clear – the path to rebuilding AIBA is not easy,” said Kremlev.
“It will not happen overnight.
“We have to unite together and work with one mission, and one mission alone: rebuilding the credibility and trust that AIBA once had in the minds of sports people worldwide and that includes, of course, restoring AIBA’s Olympic status.”
Kremlev had pledged to wipe AIBA’s debt, thought to be around $20 million (£15 million/€16.5 million), if he was elected President.
He made a similar promise made after the IOC suspended AIBA’s recognition, but an alleged lack of due diligence regarding the financial offer was raised as a concern by the IOC Inquiry Committee in its report last year.
The Committee, led by Executive Board member and United World Wrestling President Nenad Lalovic, warned in its report that “research in the public domain shows that Mr Umar Kremlev changed his name from Umar Lutfuloev; his various business ventures seem unlikely to be able to secure sufficient personal savings to cover AIBA’s debt”.
The report added: “Given the aforementioned information regarding Mr Umar Kremlev and the fact that his letter did not provide any explanations on the origin of the funds to be used, the IOC Inquiry Committee questions the seriousness of the due diligence carried out by AIBA before the announcement to the media.
“Background checks on the origin of funds from external parties is part of basic standards of good governance expected to be implemented by Olympic IFs (International Federations).”
Kremlev promised that eliminating the debt “will be the first priority” for AIBA under his leadership, which he said can be achieved “in the first six months”.
“My administration will aim to raise $50 million (£38 million/€41 million) within two years, all of which will be used to rebuild AIBA,” he added.
Umar Kremlev was one of five candidates standing for AIBA President who each gave presentations before the online vote was held.
The election follows a campaign dogged by allegations, accusations and counter-claims against several of the candidates behind the scenes.
The IOC has also admitted it has concerns with unnamed candidates who had run for AIBA President.
Kremlev claimed “there are no concerns with my candidacy”, despite IOC President Thomas Bach directly suggesting the organisation’s had an issue with the Russian standing for the top job.
He claimed he would resolve all the outstanding issues with the IOC “in the next three to four months”.
Kremlev revealed he was already in negotiations with companies regarding potential sponsorship but declined to reveal their identities and refused to reveal the source of his funding.
The 38-year-old is set to complete the remainder of Rakhimov’s term, which is due to expire in 2022, before he will have to stand again.
He becomes the third Russian President of a sport on the Summer Olympic programme, joining oligarchs Alisher Usmanov at the International Fencing Federation and Vladimir Lisin at the International Shooting Sport Federation.
According to Forbes, Lisin is Russia’s second richest man worth $18.1 billion (£13.6 billion/€14.9 billion) and Usmanov the seventh with a fortune estimated at $13.4 billion (£10.1 billion/€11.1 billion)