The International Boxing Association (IBA) is set to renew its sponsorship deal with Gazprom, a Russian oil company, for a deal that’s worth upward of $50 million USD over a two-year period. The IBA has done this despite all concerns noted from the International Olympic Committee (IOC).
IBA, Olympics, And Conflicts of Interest
IBA president Umar Kremlev announced the deal this weekend and many have wondered what the organization is thinking with its recent moves. Earlier in the year, after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Kremlev attempted to ban Ukraine from competition at a Junior Eurpoean Championship event and force them to compete under the IBA flag instead of their home country. The athletes didn’t obey the rules and competed as Ukrainians anyway.
Kremlev spoke about the new deal saying that it’s because of Gazprom that the IBA is still around.
“Gazprom helped us to become independent and made us financially stable,” Kremlev said.
Trying to make the deal smooth over, Umar Kremlev said that it’s because of Gazprom that he and the IBA can offer prize money at the highest level.
“Through this partnership we have been able to help many athletes and have been able to offer prize money at the continental at World Championships level.”
He also points to how these types of deals have been able to help out federations to get their athletes to the competitions.
“It has also ensured the participation of National Federations that would otherwise not have been able to send teams to these events.
When Kremlev took over the organization, then named AIBA, they were on the brink of financial collapse when Gazprom stepped in to prop up the company.
While it seems nice, the history of the IBA and it’s corruption in amateur boxing has been well documented. Judging has been terrible and rumors of outright buying officials have been lobbied for years. The deal with Gazprom puts too many of the IBA’s eggs in one basket, which is the IOC’s concern. With one big financial donor, the IBA is almost strictly tied to Gazprom and whatever they want the organization to do.
In addition to covering boxing for My MMA News, Blaine Henry, the author, also analyzes fights from all combat sports across the globe.
Your friendly neighborhood fight fan. I watch way too many fights and my wife lets me know it.