Gafur Rakhimov, last month linked by the United States Government to organised crime, has been named interim President of the International Boxing Association (AIBA) after Franco Falcinelli stepped down from the position at their Extraordinary Congress here today.
Rakhimov has been repeatedly been named as an Uzbek mafia boss in the media with strong links to organised crime, although he has never been prosecuted of anything.
The 66-year-old was moved to the role in accordance with the AIBA statutes, it was claimed, following a meeting held by the world governing body's Executive Board during the lunch break, as the longest serving vice-president.
The Extraordinary Congress did not have the opportunity to vote on the decision to appoint Rakhimov as Interim President but there was a big round of applause from the 250 delegates representing 109 National Federation following the announcement.
“I would like to thank all Executive members," Rakhimov said after being elected.
“My friend Franco, you have saved AIBA.
“I have had the honour of working with it in the last 20 years as vice-president.
“We need to work closely to save our favourite sport.
“We need to have greater transparency and integrity.
“We need to make our boxers proud of our sport.
“I would work closely with all of you to ensure the prestige of AIBA.”
Last month, the United States Treasury announced sanctions on 10 individuals associated with the alleged Eurasian criminal entity, the Thieves-in-Law.
Rakhimov, who according to reports holds both Uzbek and Russian passports, was among those included on the sanctions.
"Gafur Rakhimov is being designated for providing material support to the Thieves-in-Law," a US Treasury statement read.
"Rakhimov has collaborated with Thieves-in-Law on business, as well as assisted Thieves-in-Law by providing warning of law enforcement issues, arranging meetings, and addressing other problems.
"Rakhimov has been described as having moved from extortion and car theft to becoming one of Uzbekistan’s leading criminals and an important person involved in the heroin trade.
The US Treasury sanctions prohibits any persons from conducting financial or other transactions with these individuals and entities, and freezes any assets they may have under American jurisdiction.
Rakhimov was also on Interpol's most wanted list before being removed last September.
Rakhimov's alleged mafia links saw him banned from entering Australia to attend the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games but he has long been powerful figure in the world of international sport and has served President of the Asian Boxing Confederation and vice-president of AIBA for 15 years.
A permanent President to replace Wu is due to be elected at the AIBA Congress, scheduled to take place in Moscow between November 1 and 4.
Falcinelli delivered a passionate speech at the start of the Congress, where he criticised the "failed leadership of the last 11 years" under former President CK Wu.
He also railed against the "recurring threat to exclude boxing from the Olympic programme".
In a long and passionate speech, the 72-year-old placed the blame for AIBA's financial situation on Wu.
Wu resigned from the post after reaching an agreement with the AIBA Executive Committee in November.
He had been provisionally suspended by the Executive Committee prior to his resignation after they allegedly uncovered fresh allegations of wrongdoing,
A missing $10 million (£8 million/€8.5 million) loan reached with Azerbaijan company Benkons MMC has been among the central issues at the heart of the financial problems.
Wu, who remains an International Olympic Committee (IOC) member but no longer sits on its Executive Board, was blamed for financial mismanagement surrounding the loan.
He, in turn, blamed his former executive director Ho Kim for facilitating the loan.
Falcinelli alleged that Wu was directly involved in the agreement, as well as several other deals that are claimed to have damaged AIBA's finances considerably.
“He [Wu] was the one to cause the financial crisis, Mr Kim did not enter the bank loan agreement alone," Falcinelli stated.
“The investigation determined the former President had been fully involved in all business proceedings, that he approved all spending of AIBA funds and that he himself signed all agreements which prove he was the only responsible one.
“I believe that all of you might feel as I do: 2017 was the saddest and most difficult year for the history of boxing and AIBA.
“I believe we are overcoming all obstacles.
“Today we are happy to report to all of you, that with the great help of our vice-president Mr Rakhimov, a settlement with Benkons has been reached to reduce the cash payment.
Falcinelli claimed the agreement has halted the "immediate threat" of bankruptcy, with a sponsorship forming a significant part of the deal.
An proposal has also been made to the Boxing Marketing Arm to resolve a dispute.
It was also revealed that AIBA's contract with Alisports has been cancelled.
Falcinelli claimed AIBA have CHF4 million (£3 million/$4.2 million/€3.4 million) in their bank account currently.
“We should do the utmost to ensure good governance," Falcinelli said.
“2018 must become the year of AIBA Pride and being one boxing family.
“AIBA will be working hand in hand with our National Federations and Confederations to ensure a brighter future for Olympic boxing.”