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Sports Court Ruling Sets Up Showdown Over Future Of Olympic Boxing

In addition to his current post as one of several AIBA vice presidents, Serik Konakbaev also heads the Asian Boxing Confederation.

The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) has ruled that Serik Konakbaev, a Soviet-era boxing legend from Kazakhstan, is an eligible candidate for the presidency of the International Boxing Association (AIBA) when the sport's world governing body elects its next chief.

The October 30 ruling by the international sports court sets up a showdown at the AIBA's November 2-3 congress in Moscow over who will be in charge of trying to save boxing's future as an Olympic sport.

On October 1, the AIBA Election Committee declared the AIBA's Uzbek interim president, Gafur Rakhimov, as the only valid candidate.

The committee disqualified Konakbaev on the grounds that letters of support from at least 20 national boxing federations did not arrive by registered mail at AIBA headquarters in Lausanne, Switzerland, before a Sunday, September 23 deadline.

But Konakbaev appealed to the CAS, citing a Swiss law that states the legal filing date for a deadline that falls on a Sunday, a nonbusiness day, is the following Monday.

The last of Konakbaev's required support letters were delivered in Lausanne on Monday, September 24.

In an October 30 statement, the CAS said the AIBA Election Committee wrongly refused to consider those letters.

The statement said Konakbaev "reached the threshold of 20 nominations supporting his candidature for the AIBA presidency within the relevant time limit" and that he "should be allowed to participate in the election for the role of AIBA president."

Gafur Rakhimov (right) attends a boxing event in Sochi in February.
Gafur Rakhimov (right) attends a boxing event in Sochi in February.

Konakbaev's last-minute candidacy was proposed by 20 national federations concerned about criminal allegations against Rakhimov and threats by the International Olympics Committee (IOC) to drop boxing from the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo if he is elected as the next AIBA president.

The U.S. Treasury Department has blacklisted Rakhimov as "one of Uzbekistan's leading criminals," as a key figure in the international heroin trade, and for alleged links to a notorious international criminal network knows as "thieves-in-law."

Rakhimov denies those allegations.

But the IOC has frozen all working ties and financial payments to the AIBA over long-standing corruption and governance concerns that have continued since Rakhimov became the AIBA's interim president in January.

In early October, the IOC said the criminal allegations against Rakhimov were "affecting not just the reputation of AIBA and boxing, but of sport in general."

The IOC also said it was concerned about the way Konakbaev was initially excluded from the November 3 vote in Moscow, leaving Rakhimov as the only candidate.

Konakbaev became a Soviet hero in Kazakhstan by winning silver medals at the 1980 Moscow Olympics and the 1982 World Championships, as well as gold medals at the amateur European Championships in 1979 and 1981.

In addition to his current post as one of several AIBA vice presidents, Konakbaev also heads the Asian Boxing Confederation.

With reporting by Reuters and dpa
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