Gloves are off as Aiba chief Wu bids to avoid knockout

Aiba president Wu Ching-kuo claims he is being targeted by officials within the organisation because of his attempt to reform it.
Aiba president Wu Ching-kuo claims he is being targeted by officials within the organisation because of his attempt to reform it.

LAUSANNE • Punches are flying in and outside the ring at the amateur boxing world championships in Germany this week as a bitter power struggle rages for control of the historic Olympic sport.

In one corner in Hamburg is Wu Ching-kuo, the embattled Taiwanese president of the International Boxing Association (Aiba), and an influential member of the International Olympic Committee (IOC).

The opposite corner is crowded with the majority of the governing body's executive committee, who have joined forces to establish a temporary administration.

They are out to knock out Wu, who has led the Lausanne-based Aiba since 2006.

Wu's opponents want to oust him from power and seize control of the organisation in what the Aiba boss has compared to "a military coup".

Their main gripe is that Wu has left the sport facing bankruptcy, placing Aiba in peril. They claim "Aiba is not in a position to repay" debts totalling 15 million Swiss francs (S$21.15 million).

"Wrong," says Wu, who contends that Aiba's finances are in fact "healthy" with "16 million Swiss francs in the bank".

The rebels, led by Italian Franco Falcinelli and Pat Fiacco of Canada, attempted to force through an urgent management shake-up in the Swiss courts.

A ruling this month rejected their request, saying the matter would have to wait for a proper hearing this month.

The legal action came after Wu's executive committee passed a motion of no confidence in him at a meeting in Moscow in July.

Wu claims he is being targeted because of his attempt to reform Aiba and specifically singled out former executive director Ho Kim of South Korea for seeking "revenge" after his ousting over allegations of financial wrongdoing.

He insists he is "the legitimate president" and said he wrote to IOC chief Thomas Bach to explain the situation, pinning Ho as the main plotter.

Bach was a noticeable absentee at the championships, especially since the event was being held in his native Germany.

The IOC explained that "the circumstances which Aiba currently faces are not the right environment for a visit of the IOC president to this year's championships; such a visit could be interpreted by either side as a statement of support."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on , with the headline 'Gloves are off as Aiba chief Wu bids to avoid knockout'. Print Edition | Subscribe