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Discredited Boxing Organization Vows to Award Prize Money to Paris Olympians

  • The International Boxing Association announced it will award $50,000 to every gold medalist.
  • The IOC last year unrecognized the governing body and recently called for a replacement.
Aug 18, 2016; Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; Julio Cesar La Cruz (CUB, red) faces Adilbek Niyazymbetov (KAZ, blue) during boxing final in the Rio 2016 Summer Olympic Games at Riocentro - Pavilion
Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports

World Athletics, the international governing body for track and field, announced in April it would distribute Olympic prize money for the first time. The move marked a notable shift away from amateurism in the Olympics, where payment has historically come from only commercial partners and national governing bodies or Olympic committees. The International Olympic Committee did not support the decision.

Fast-forward to Wednesday, when another sport’s governing body—one already feuding with the IOC—made a similar pledge. The International Boxing Association announced it will award upward of $3.1 million in prize money to male and female boxers who reach the Paris quarterfinals, plus compensation for their coaches and national federations. Each gold medalist will get $50,000, the same amount slotted for first-place runners.

“Our athletes and their efforts must be appreciated,” IBA president Umar Kremlev said in a statement. “We pride ourselves on being among the pioneers in rewarding the athletes for their Olympic successes.”

The IOC is against any sport’s governing body paying Olympic athletes, but the IBA is a particular thorn in its side. That’s because the IOC formally unrecognized the IBA in June 2023 and kept it from overseeing Olympic boxing in Tokyo and Paris. The IOC has long criticized senior IBA leadership, its funding from the Russian state energy firm Gazprom, and the integrity of judges and competitions at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Games.

It’s unclear where the prize money will come from because, unlike World Athletics, IBA’s share of Tokyo Olympic revenues has been held back by the IOC, and it won’t get anything from Paris, either. The IOC said last month that a new governing body would need to be established by “early 2025” to avoid risking the sport being dropped from the ’28 Olympics. A new group founded by U.S. and British officials, World Boxing, looks most likely to take IBA’s place.

“It is therefore already clear that any boxer whose national federation adheres to the IBA will not be able to participate in the Olympic Games LA28,” said the IOC on Tuesday.

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