USA Boxing, which has been in turmoil for several years, is set for a complete overhaul after International Boxing Association (AIBA) President C K Wu formally approved all of the recommendations proposed by the Reform Committee set up to investigate the serious problems within the organization.
The USA Boxing Reform Committee was established at the end of last year following a disastrous period within the body in October 2012 when they were hit with a three-month suspension by AIBA for retaining their hugely controversial former President Hal Adonis on their Board of Directors.
Adonis was originally forced to step down as USA Boxing President after making comments in The New Yorker magazine, where he suggested that homosexuality was rife in female boxing and that all boxers should have suffered child abuse to prosper in the sport.
But despite stepping down as President, Adonis was allowed to retain a seat on the Board following a vote on the issue by USA Boxing in a move that caused the AIBA suspension. It was only lifted when Adonis was eventually removed from the Board.
The episode came after a disastrous London 2012 Olympic campaign from the United States that saw the strongest Olympic boxing nation in history fail to win a single medal in the men’s category and it was only the women that managed to help the country save face with middleweight Claressa Shields claiming gold and flyweight Marlen Esparza taking bronze.
The five-member USA Boxing Reform Committee, chaired by Richard Meade, has conducted an exhaustive process of review, discussion and consultation that has resulted in the presentation of a detailed set of recommendations that AIBA has now approved.
The key recommendation sees the adoption of new bylaws to improve the governance structure of USA Boxing.
Key to this is the formation of an entire new 10-person Board of directors comprised of two athlete directors, four independent directors, one LBC director, one affiliate director, one general membership director and one AIBA director.
Five of the 10 will be appointed by an independent nominating and governance committee, while additional measures include reform of the rules of USA Boxing to bring them into line with AIBA rules, a focus on increasing the number and competence of boxing coaches in the USA, and the development of new revenue streams with a focus on sponsorship and marketing.
There will also be a reorganization of USA Boxing headquarters and increased emphasis on women’s boxing, with at least one woman to attend the Board of directors meetings.
The next step of the process will be the presentation of the new bylaws to the current Board of directors of USA Boxing for approval and, if adopted, the dissolution of the current Board and the establishment of the new one.
Wu, in approving all the recommendations, congratulated the Reform Committee and also complimented current USA Boxing President Dr. Charles Butler and his staff for their contribution to the successful reform process.
“We have come a long way since I took over last year,” Butler told insidethegames. “The organization and structure was so bad that we only just about managed to get a team to the London 2012 Olympics and we didn’t do well there at all. When we conducted a review after the Games, we found so many problems with the organization and structure of USA Boxing that it was clear we needed a complete overhaul. Reform was clearly necessary, if we wanted to get the USA back to the top of the pile, and also necessary in terms of creating sustainable revenue streams.
“We were the absolute powerhouse of Olympic boxing and now we are the doormat,” Butler added. “We need this major change, if we want to be a powerhouse again one day.”
Butler, who is also an AIBA Executive Board member and AIBA Medical Commission chairman, says that despite the imminent arrival of the reforms, USA boxing may not be a major force in Olympic boxing for around a decade as the changes will take time to implement.
“This is all about focusing on the grassroots and teaching the right sort of values to kids taking part in boxing,” said Bulter, who is set to be part of the new USA Boxing Board.
“It hurt me when after London 2012 when some of the U.S. Olympic boxers spoke about how much money they are now going to make by turning professional,” Butler said. “It was disrespectful, after representing your country at the Olympics, and it just doesn’t demonstrate the right values for our sport.
He added: “If we want to be a powerhouse again, we need to focus on teaching children the right values to make them successful. I’m talking about talented kids around the age of eight or nine. That is what is happening in Great Britain, who are the best boxing nation in the world right now. So I think we will be more successful at Rio 2016 than we were at London 2012 but I think it will be the 2020 Games when we really start to see the benefits of these reforms and become a real powerhouse again.
“We just need to wake up as we have been a sleeping giant for too long and we need to stop making excuses,”Butler continued. “We saw some people say that the U.S. is more suited to the professional style than the amateur style but I don’t agree with that. The rest of the world just caught up with us and then we fell behind because we didn’t have the right coaching or training methods in place and we weren’t teaching the right values. Part of this reform will focus on increasing the number and competence of boxing coaches in the USA and that is vital.
“It is what needs to happen and it doesn’t matter how long it takes, it just matters that we get it right,” Butler said. “I’m a surgeon and when I do an operation, the most important thing is that a patient gets out safely. It is not about how fast it can be done, it is about getting the right end result.”
Contact the writer of this story at firstname.lastname@example.org. Inside the Games is an online blog of the London Organizing Committee that staged the 2012 London Games. The blog continues to cover issues that are important to the Olympic movement. This article is reprinted here with permission of the blog editors.