Amateur boxing could face suspension


Tribune Sports Reporter

Amateur boxing in the Bahamas could be facing suspension from the International Boxing Association (AIBA) if the upcoming elections fail to comply with the international governing of the sport.

Ronn Rodgers, founder of the Strikers Boxing Club and one of three persons vying for president of the Amateur Boxing Federation of Bahamas (BABF), said the mishandling of the election process and subsequent suspension could have a detrimental impact on the development of boxing in the country.

BABF Elections are scheduled for Friday, August 31.

"If we do get suspended, and it looks like that will happen, the Bahamas will be unable to compete in any international events. No Pan Am Games, no CAC, no World Games, no Commonwealth Games and the big one, no Olympics. The possibility of all of that is out of the window if we are suspended.

"Our fighters will not be able to go to any qualifying tournaments and represent the country. The amateur boxing programme will be basically demoralised because if you have no shows and tournaments then the fighters have no reason to continue and be in the gym. There will be no shows and no tournaments or no goals to reach for outside of the local shows we have here in the Bahamas. These guys can't afford to be suspended for a year. With many big events coming up and many of these guys training towards these goals, if they understand that those goals are no longer attainable, we will lose many developing fighters."

On April 21, Vincent Strachan won the BABF presidency on a 7-3 vote over Ikenna Johnson. Discrepancies in the electoral process were reported to AIBA, who investigated and declared the results of the election null and void. The BABF was mandated to host a new election by September 1 of this year.

Tom Virgets, AIBA executive director, outlined the compliance issues in a letter to outgoing BABF President Wellington Miller.

"A review of the AIBA records regarding the election has shown that the Bahamas Boxing Federation did not follow the AIBA requirements as outlined in Article 36 of the AIBA Bylaws. Please note that AIBA does not recognise the election as it was carried out in violation of the Article 36 of the Bylaws," he said. "As a matter of urgency, AIBA requires that you call for a new election to take place before September 1 2018, that will be conducted in compliance with AIBA regulations, and ensure that all member clubs are invited in accordance with your statutes. AIBA also requires that an observer assigned by AMBC President, Mr Osvaldo Bisbal, be present during the elections. Failure to comply this mandate will result in AIBA referring the case to its Disciplinary Commission and the possibility of a provisional suspension of your Federation. We trust you will take immediate actions to organise to a proper election in accordance with AIBA Statutes and Bylaws."

Other issues listed by AIBA include:

  • Failure to conduct the formal Federation's Annual General Meeting of its members before the election meeting

  • Failure to produce statements of formal audited financial accounts covering the 10-year tenure of previous administration

  • Failure to produce a financial report and President's Report to the associated members

  • Illegal voters: out of 11 associations, seven were created just before the election took place and executive officials of legally constituted associations were denied the right to vote.

The list of voting delegates for the election include Cat Island, Exuma, the Berry Islands, Eleuthera, Grand Bahama, Abaco, New Providence, Bimini, Andros, Inagua and San Salvador.

"The same things that were not right in the first election, those issues remain for this election Friday so it looks as if we are on the path to suspension. There's Inagua, Grand Bahama and New Providence that have legit associations, the others have no activity. As small as boxing in this country, that is too many governing bodies. There are currently more associations voting than we have active clubs. There are about realistically few active clubs but we have all of these associations voting for the president, I don't get that. These associations have no infrastructure in place, no clubs, no coaches, have not produced fighters, participated in shows or hosted shows.

"I've been in this sport for over 30 years and many of these association heads I'm unfamiliar with in terms of the boxing world," Pinder said. "What I would like to see is for us to operate AIBA intended and under AIBA rules clubs vote, not associations. One club, one vote. Our federation put into their constitution that associations should vote. But I would like to see is for the clubs voting and having a voice. The clubs are the ones that have the fighters that are on the ground training and do most of this work unassisted from the federation or the government. They should have the voice."

In addition, with the activity of his Strikers Boxing Club, Rodgers, in conjunction with Ray Minus Jr, has established the Bahamas Community Boxing Programme which currently has over 200 amateur fighters. Their aim is to register 1,000 followers by December.

"I hope a suspension serves as a wake-up call and the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture steps in and ensures we get this right because they are the only ones with the power over the federation. They are the ones responsible for funding the sport," Rodgers said. "The gyms are going to be empty when the word gets out that there's nothing you can achieve as an amateur so all we will have are the ones looking at a pro career, but you need the amateurs as a feeder system."