Alan Hubbard

Last week we told of the remarkable involvement of boxing in the current warfare in Ukraine, with four illustrious world champions donning battledress and fighting their corner against the Russian invaders.

Now there is another example of the sport’s curious association with what is happening in that brutally besieged, gallant nation. Ukraine’s young Olympic hopefuls are flourishing as boxing gets its act together - under the leadership of a Russian, Umar Kremlev.

Recently Ukraine’s boxers, male and female, watched by Kremlev gained a fistful of medals at the European Under-22 Championships in Porec, Croatia. 

International Boxing Association (IBA) general secretary István Kovács says: "We are in constant communication with the Ukrainian delegation and other members of the boxing family to make sure that athletes have the opportunity to compete in all international championships.

"The safety and well-being of our athletes remains our main priority."

And there is a great example of the boxing community coming together.

The Ukrainian team had its costs for competing in the European event underwritten by IBA and is currently training in Germany for upcoming competitions.

Umar Kremlev is set to stand for re-election as International Boxing Association President at next month's Congress ©IBA
Umar Kremlev is set to stand for re-election as International Boxing Association President at next month's Congress ©IBA

The 40-year-old Kremlev, unlike the Russian leaders of some other sports bodies, has not been subjected to sanctions. He is not considered an oligarch, and has no known association with Vladimir Putin.

Subsequently the IBA has taken a further step towards safeguarding its Olympic status, with the International Olympic Committee Executive Board confirming its revised Olympic qualification system for all categories of boxing at the Olympic Games in Paris two years hence.

Kremlev says: "IBA is very pleased with the result of our cooperation with the IOC and their tournament. We are certain that all boxers aiming to reach Paris 2024 will benefit. 

"The proposed Olympic qualification system offers fairness, clarity and accessibility. They will have multiple opportunities to qualify and there is flexibility because we have all learned the importance of this from the pandemic.

"We are also very grateful to the trust shown in the IBA by the IOC in inviting us to develop a system that is based on performance at IBA events."

He says the IBA will continue to deliver further improvements in governance, sporting and financial integrity.

It will be interesting to see whether Kremlev is re-elected as President at IBA's Congress next month - particularly if Russian bullets and bombs are still devastating parts of Ukraine. But so far no one has complained that Kremlev comes from Russia - with glove.