USA Boxing boycotting World Championship over Flag dispute

Due to “the ongoing failures” of the IBA (the international governing body of boxing), USA Boxing will not be sending athletes to this year’s men’s and women’s world championships. This decision by IBA puts the sport’s inclusion in the Olympic Games in jeopardy.

The decision was first reported by The Washington Post. IBA governance problems, financial irregularities, transparency, and the fact that Russian and Belarusian boxers are permitted to compete under their national flags were among the many reasons cited by USA Boxing Executive Director Mike McAtee in a letter to IBA members.

In October, the IBA lifted the ban on boxers from Belarus and Russia and permitted the use of their flags and anthems. According to USA Boxing, Russian boxers have participated under their flags in an IBA tournament in Morocco this month. They are anticipated to do the same at this year’s world championships as well.

According to a letter from USA Boxing,

“While sport is intended to be politically neutral, many boxers, coaches and other representatives of the Ukrainian boxing community were killed as a result of the Russian aggression against Ukraine, including coach Mykhaylo Korenovsky who was killed when a Russian missile hit an apartment block in January 2023. Ukraine’s sports infrastructure, including numerous boxing gyms, has been devastated by Russian aggression.”

Later, McAtee clarified that even if Russians and Belarusians were participating as neutrals and without their flags, USA Boxing would still not send competitors to the world championships.

He responded by saying, “USA Boxing’s decision is based on the ‘totality of all of the factors.’ Third party oversite and fairness in the field of play is the most important factor.”

The IOC warned that recent IBA rulings may result in “the cancellation of boxing” for the 2024 Paris Games in December.

In 2019, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) stripped IBA (which was formerly known as AIBA) of its Olympic recognition. In regards to a potential judging scandal, AIBA had suspended all 36 referees and judges employed during the 2016 Rio Olympics.