Will Serik Konakbayev take another swing at it?That was the question in boxing circles as controversial Uzbek businessman Gafur Rakhimov was elected president of the International Boxing Association (AIBA), placing in question boxing’s eligibility for the Olympics.
The only other candidate to contest Rakhimov’s bid for the AIBA presidency was Konakbayev, vice president of AIBA and a well-known Soviet-era boxer from Kazakhstan. Konakbayev told journalists on November 3 that he may appeal against the decision to elect Rakhimov as the association’s president in order to preserve boxing’s presence in the Olympics.
Rakhimov allegedly has ties to organised crime, something which led the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in October to threaten to drop boxing from the Olympics. The US Treasury Department last year described Rakhimov as "one of Uzbekistan's leading criminals and an important person involved in the heroin trade"—he has denied the accusations. The Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) has frozen Rakhimov’s assets in the US and has prohibited US citizens from "conducting financial or other transactions" with him.
"Such behaviour is affecting not just the reputation of AIBA and boxing, but of sport in general," the IOC said in a reference to Rakhimov’s candidacy prior to his election. The existence of boxing on the Olympic programme and even the recognition of AIBA were under threat, it added.
In its objections to Rakhimov, the IOC previously warned that boxing could be removed from the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, despite the sport having been on the programme of every Olympics since 1920, regardless of regular controversies over judging and allegations of fixed bouts.