Six Irish boxers going for gold at European Junior Championships as Italian event overshadowed by IBA row

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Six Irish boxers will be action in gold medal fights at the European Junior (U-17) championships in Montelsilvano, Italy today.

race Conway Dowling (Tredagh), Niamh Keogh (Olympic L), Ava Henry (Docklands), Mary McDonagh (Sliabh Luachra), Tadhg O’Donnell (Four Kings) and Jamie Collins (Drimnagh) will be aiming to upgrade their silver medals to gold.

Sophie Curley Gray (Dealgan), Ailfe Jordan (Olympic L), John Harty (Portlaoise) and Cillian Reilly Lennon (Jobstown) were beaten in their respective semi-finals but will take home bronze medals.

However, the championships have been overshadowed by a row over the controversial decision of the International Boxing Association (IBA) to suspend the Ukrainian Boxing Federation which effectively resulted in Ukrainian boxers being unable to compete in Italy.

The Board of Directors suspended the Ukrainian Federation due to what they alleged was ‘government interference.’

When the Ukrainian squad arrived in Montesilvano for the championships, which began on September 27, they were initially informed they would have to compete under the banner of the IBA.

The majority of the Ukrainian fighters refused to enter the ring under these rules leading to numerous bouts being decided by walkover.

Three days into the championship, the president of IBA Umar Kremlev announced that the Ukrainians would be allowed to compete under their own flag.

However, most of the boxers decided to return to Ukraine immediately, in solidarity with their teammates who had already lost by walkover.

The Irish Athletic Boxing Association condemned what they described as the “illegal suspension” of the Ukrainian Boxing Federation.

In a strongly worded rebuke of the IBA, the Irish governing body said in a statement: “The fact that the IBA has suspended the Ukrainian Boxing Federation for alleged government interference shows the continued vulnerability of boxing’s world governing body to external forces and influence.

“It is the latest in a series of acts and decisions by the IBA which do not align with boxing’s core values and which show that the legacy of its predecessor, AIBA, lingers.

“The IABA notes the statement issued by IBA that ‘Sports is out of politics: where it begins, politics ends.’ In its actions in recent days, the IBA has shown this not to be its position.”

The statement said it was unacceptable that it took so long for the IBA to address on the impact the “illegal suspension” of the Ukrainian Boxing Federation had on their boxers at the European championships, adding: “The IABA, and Irish Boxing, stands in solidarity with our sister federation and calls for the immediate restoration of full IBA membership for the Ukrainian Boxing Federation.

“The unethical imposition of this illegal suspension by the IBA and its decision not to lay that suspension before the IBA Congress on September 25th is surpassed in gravity only by the IBA’s decision at that Congress not to permit a free and fair Presidential election to take place. Holding a vote to hold vote when the previous ballot was miss-run doesn’t stand up to even the most glancing of scrutiny.

“The proliferation of long-standing governance matters in boxing’s world governing body meant the IOC had to step in and run Boxing in Tokyo. It will do so again in Paris. Boxing is not among the schedule of sports for LA.

“Those in the IBA are acutely aware of these issues and the steps required to resolve them. The IBA appears to be choosing a path away from Olympic boxing. As a result, the IABA calls for fresh IBA presidential elections at the earliest opportunity.

“The IABA, through President Gerry O’Mahony and Interim CEO, John Nangle, is a proud member of the Common Cause Alliance. Our Common Cause is to keep Olympic style boxing in the Olympic program of Paris 2024 and ensure its re-inclusion for Los Angeles 2028.”

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