AIBA boss Umar Kremlev
AIBA boss Umar Kremlev Image Credit: AIBA Twitter

Dubai: Umar Kremlev, the newly elected President of the International Boxing Association (AIBA), has spelt out a long and tedious path of reviving the global body controlling amateur boxing.

“Let me make it clear. The path to rebuilding AIBA is not easy,” Kremlev admitted after being elected as AIBA President following a virtual Extraordinary Congress held earlier this week. “It will not happen overnight. We have to unite together and work with one mission, and one mission alone: rebuilding the credibility and trust that AIBA once had in the minds of sports people worldwide and that includes, of course, restoring AIBA’s Olympic status.”.

Among other promises, Kremlev had pledged to clear AIBA’s debt — thought to be around $20 million (Dh73.4 million), should he be elected President.

After four rounds of voting, Kremlev, who was general secretary of the Russian Boxing Federation and a member of the AIBA Executive Committee, received 86 votes to defeat Boris van der Vorst (45 votes) of Netherlands and Interim AIBA President, Mohammed Moustahsane (19 votes).

Azerbaijan’s Suleyman Mikayilov was the first of the five candidates standing to become the first permanent AIBA President since Gafur Rakhimov stood down in March 2019 following allegations he was involved in heroin trafficking, which he denies, to be eliminated from the contest.

The 38-year-old Kremlev revealed he was already in negotiations with companies regarding potential sponsorship, but declined to reveal their identities and refused to reveal the source of his funding. The youngster is set to complete the remainder of Rakhimov’s term, which is due to expire in 2022, before he stands again for the post.

Mikayilov was followed by Asian Boxing Confederation head Anas Al Otaiba of the UAE, who failed to progress beyond Round Three. The pair had been expected to be Kremlev’s main challengers.

The Russian, also a first vice-president of the European Boxing Confederation, replaces Moustahsane, who had been in interim charge since Rakhimov resigned. Kremlev’s main task will now also be to ensure AIBA’s status with the IOC is restored in time for the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris.

The AIBA had been suspended by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in 2019 and stripped the body of any involvement in organising the boxing event at the 2020 Tokyo Games.

Kremlev’s election concludes a campaign dogged by allegations, accusations and counterclaims against several of the candidates behind the scenes.

Two of the six candidates in the fray — Domingo Solano of the Dominican Republic and Ramie Al Masri of Germany — had withdrawn their candidature with just two days left for the elections.

Solano had withdrawn his candidacy and back the Asian Boxing Confederation President Al Otaiba from the UAE, who had also received the endorsement of USA Boxing.

Kremlev becomes the third Russian President of a sport on the Summer Olympic programme, joining oligarchs Alisher Usmanov (International Fencing Federation) and Vladimir Lisin (International Shooting Sport Federation).

According to Forbes, Lisin is Russia’s second richest man worth $18.1 billion (Dhs 66.4 billion) and Usmanov the seventh with a fortune estimated at $13.4 billion.