IABA president defends Worlds boycott and stand against ‘corruption’
Gerry O’Mahony believes the IABA made the ‘right decision’ in taking a stand against the ‘corruption’ in the IBA.
Last Friday, the IABA announced that no Irish boxers will attend next month’s women’s World Championships in New Delhi, India, or the men’s World Championships in Uzbekistan in May.
The decisions were made given the growing concern with the IBA and its lack of governance and transparency, along with a fear for boxing’s Olympic future.
The IABA’s board of directors and central council voted 15-5 to boycott the championships days after the United States announced they would not participate – the UK and Canada have since followed suit.
IABA President O’Mahony admits the decision to boycott was “not taken lightly” and understands the reservations expressed by some in the sport.
However, he believes the IABA has chosen the right course of action and suggests upon hearing both sides of the argument the boxing family would agree.
“Even going into the meeting, some people might have had it in their minds to go to the Worlds but when they got in there, they changed when they heard the opinions of different people,” he told the Irish News.
“The officer board and the directors present did not influence anyone. The people were given the choice, they were given the information, and they made up their own minds. They were the guardians of the IABA, the people who represented every region, and they were asked to make the decision.
“In the long-term, I think it’s the right decision… it was a leap of faith really. People were tired of hearing about the corruption that goes on, our boxers treated badly when they go abroad to countries where the IBA are involved, so a decision had to be made – do we want to keep supporting that and propping that up, or do we want to make a stand?
“Going into the meeting the other night I was so unsure, but it feels like the right thing to do. It’s the goal of every young boxer to be in the Olympics. After the meeting, it felt like a load was lifted.”
The decision hasn’t been met with widespread acceptance. It comes with an element of pain, particularly for those in non-Olympic weights and underage standouts. The $200,000 prize money on offer for gold medal winners has also influenced the reaction and there are concerns some might go pro.
However, O’Mahony suggests the IABA acted for the health of the sport and its future.
“Hopefully in the next couple of weeks we can make it more palatable to be away from the IBA, to have a better way forward.
“There’s a couple of things you’ve got to look at; sending boxers abroad to box in tournaments when there’s a chance they’re going to get bad decisions or get robbed – that has to end. The IOC has asked the IBA to make changes, they haven’t done it.
“So what option have you? You can keep sending people to those competitions and then they come back and we’re crying about bad decisions. Then you go back and the same thing happens the following year.
“I know it’s lovely to get $200,000 but I don’t agree with that – it’s like a sweetener to get boxers to move that way and turn against their associations. They know it’s a crucial time now… I can’t see them continuing to keep paying out millions year on year.
“There might be a bit of the unknown in the short-term, but in the long-term we’ll certainly be better off.”