Russian official offers $16 million to save Olympic boxing

Russia’s Vladimir Nikitin, right, fights Ireland’s Michael John Conlan during a men’s bantamweight 5
Russia’s Vladimir Nikitin, right, fights Ireland’s Michael John Conlan during the men’s bantamweight quarterfinals at the 2016 Summer Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.
(Jae C. Hong / Associated Press)

With boxing in danger of being cut from the Olympics, a Russian official has offered pay $16 million to keep what he calls his “favorite sport” in the Summer Games.

Umar Kremlev, who serves as secretary-general for boxing in Russia, made the offer in a letter to the International Olympic Committee on Thursday.

“Boxing is one of the oldest Olympic sports,” he wrote, adding: “I am ready to begin negotiations as soon as possible.”

The money from Kremlev, who has described himself as a former promoter, would go toward steadying the international boxing federation, or AIBA, which faces a sizable debt along with other troubling issues.

Of particular concern is AIBA’s elected president, Gafur Rakhimov, who has been identified by the U.S. Treasury Department as “an important person involved in the heroin trade.” Rakhimov recently stepped aside but did not resign, meaning he could return to his post.

The IOC has launched in inquiry that is expected to conclude in late May, at which point the organization could decide to drop boxing from the 2020 Tokyo Olympics or, perhaps, continue without AIBA’s involvement.

IOC members might eventually vote to decertify AIBA.

Kremlev, who is both a national official and an AIBA member, wrote: “Our main goal is to continue the successful development of boxing to save its rightful place in the Olympic movement.”

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