Boxers from Britain and the Czech Republic on Tuesday joined a United States-led boycott of the world championships, deepening a standoff over the International Boxing Association’s Russian president and his insistence on letting Russian fighters compete with their country’s flag and anthem.
British governing body GB Boxing said it would not take part in the women’s world championships in India next month and that the men’s championships in May are “under review.”
GB Boxing cited a rift between the IBA and the International Olympic Committee which has endangered boxing’s place on the Olympic program, and the IBA’s decision to defy IOC recommendations and allow Russia and its ally Belarus to compete with national symbols, not as neutral athletes.
“This has put further distance between IBA and the Olympic movement in addition to the significant, longstanding issues over sporting integrity, governance, transparency and financial management which the IOC has asked IBA to address to protect boxing´s place on the Olympic program,” GB Boxing said in a statement. “GB Boxing condemns the Russian invasion of Ukraine and has solidarity with the people, boxers, coaches and officials of Ukraine.”
Czech Boxing Association Marek Simak confirmed a boycott in comments to Czech public radio, taking the number of teams involved to four. The U.S. said last week it would boycott and Ireland followed Friday.
That prompted IBA president Umar Kremlev to label the “administrators and politicians” he said were behind the boycott as “worse than hyenas and jackals.” Kremlev, who is Russian, said the IBA would offer financial help to U.S. boxers to defy their national governing body and compete.
The split in boxing is separate from a larger ongoing dispute over whether athletes from Russia and Belarus should be allowed to compete at the Paris Olympics next year. Political and sports leaders in some countries, including Ukraine, have said there could be boycotts if that happens.
The world boxing championships were historically for amateur fighters but now offer prize money of up to $200,000 for men and $100,000 for women. They have often been a key Olympic qualifier but that doesn’t apply for Paris after the IOC suspended its recognition of the IBA in 2019.
The IOC administered boxing at the Tokyo Olympics in 2021 directly and is managing the qualifiers for 2024. Boxing has been left off the program for the 2028 Olympics in Los Angeles so far but could be included at a later date.