Russian boxing powerbroker says govt not backing $16M offer
MOSCOW (AP) — The Russian boxing powerbroker behind a $16 million offer aimed at keeping the sport in the Olympics has denied the government is funding his campaign.
Umar Kremlev is due to present his offer when the International Boxing Association's executive committee meets on Saturday, four days before the International Olympic Committee board discusses boxing's place on the program.
The IOC has criticized the boxing body, known as AIBA, over its long-running financial problems and choice of leadership.
Kremlev has offered to cover AIBA's $16 million debts in full and fund its development budget for five years. He said the offer is "all transparent" but hasn't named the investors he says are backing him.
"It's private funds, not state," Kremlev said on Wednesday. "We will do it with transparency, openly, and on (May) 18 there will be an AIBA executive committee and I want to discuss it, so that it's all transparent. The covering of the debt and a business plan, a development plan for AIBA for the first five years. Whatever sum is needed, we are ready to attract it and allocate it, so that boxing develops."
Kremlev said he hasn't received a response from the IOC to his offer, but AIBA's management has been receptive.
"We are very blessed to have a member in our AIBA family with such philanthropic heart," executive director Tom Virgets said last month.
Boxing's uncertain Olympic status is a concern for Russia, which is hosting both the men's and women's world boxing championships this year. Part of the appeal of those events is the Olympic qualification on offer.
"I don't think (the dispute with the IOC) should affect the world championships or qualifying," Kremlev said.
Kremlev has been secretary general of the Russian boxing federation since 2017. Kremlev previously held a prominent role in the Night Wolves, a Russian motorcycle club with nationalist political views and links to the Kremlin, and has also managed professional Russian boxers Dmitry and Fyodor Chudinov.
Company registration data lists Kremlev as the former owner of a security company and a jewelry firm.
AIBA is led by Mohamed Moustahsane, a former ringside doctor who became interim president in March after elected president Gafur Rakhimov stepped aside.
Rakhimov's status on a U.S. Treasury Department sanctions list — with alleged links to international heroin trafficking which he denies — is part of an IOC inquiry examining boxing's place on the Olympic program. The IOC board meets on Wednesday to discuss the inquiry's report, and could recommend the 2020 Olympic tournament in Tokyo is scrapped or that it's hosted without AIBA's input.
Under AIBA rules, Rakhimov has the right to resume the presidency before a congress of the organization is called to elect a new president.
Kremlev backed Rakhimov's election last year, but says he doubted Rakhimov would come back.
"As regards the return of this person, I think that he has gone," he said. "If there was a problem with him or with anything else, he has gone. What's the sense in coming back?"