AIBA disband ‘Magnificent Seven’ – sideline all Rio judges pending investigation

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The AIBA have met in Switzerland to discuss reforms ahead of the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo following a controversy-filled Rio Games.

There was numerous complaints of incompetent judging, and even allegations of corruption, surrounding fights such as Joe Joyce v Tony Yoka, Gary Russell v Fazliddin Gaibnazarov, Vassily Levit v Evgeny Tischenko, and Ireland’s own Mick Conlan v Vladimir Nikitin.

Conlan’s outburst after his bantamweight quarter final loss, where he labelled the AIBA “f*cking cheats” led to widespread international media spotlight on the AIBA and the organisation did remove some referees and judges from the Olympic roster – although some who judged Conlan’s bout remained.

Probably the biggest news to come out from the ‘Technical and Rules Extraordinary Commission Meeting’ was confirmation of the disbandment of the so-called ‘Magnificent Seven’ of five-star referees and judges. The seven, who had the full-time job of organising refereeing and judging for the AIBA consisted of Ireland’s Michael Gallagher, Mik Basi, Gerardo Poggi, Rakhymzhan Rysbayev, Mariusz Gorny (a judge in the Conlan v Nikitin bout), Vladislav Malishev, and Kheira Sidi Yakoub (who refereed the Conlan v Nikitin bout).

In addition, all 36 referees and judges who officiated at Rio have been sidelined until the conclusion of a specific R&J investigation.

The commission also recommends that, going forward from this December, the scorecards of all five ringside judges will be used, rather than the current system of using three random cards.

The organisation again dismissed claims of corruption and stressed that they will “continue to refute unsubstantiated claims that have tarnished the reputation of our sport.”

“The experience and knowledge required to officiate a boxing match takes years to accumulate, and moving forward it is essential that the reputation of the R&J’s is restored.”

In what seems to be a thinly-veiled jab at Conlan the AIBA described how “The judging system can never become a scapegoat for boxers and coaches who perform disappointingly in the ring and display inappropriate behaviour or comments to media.”

“This will be even more closely monitored in the future and firm disciplinary action will be taken when necessary.”

Joe O'Neill

Reporting on Irish boxing the past five years. Work has appeared on irish-boxing.com, Boxing News, the42.ie, and local and national media. Provide live ringside updates, occasional interviews, and special features on the future of Irish boxing. email: joneill6@tcd.ie