As we begin 2017 with the fresh optimism a new year brings, it is with great pleasure and pride that it also holds such positivity for AIBA, filled with opportunities to create lasting legacies for boxing and ready to showcase the depth of talent of our athletes around the world. For AIBA, 2016 was defined by both the crowning of superb Olympic champions and the learning of important lessons. The atmosphere of unity with which the AIBA Family closed 2016, both at the Extraordinary Executive Committee and Congress meetings and with the 70-year Gala Dinner, is the embodiment of a new horizon in which we will build upon the work done in the second half of last year.
In 2017, education will continue to be a centrepiece of AIBA’s work, extending the achievements of our HeadsUp initiative to ensure that, in every aspect and at every level of our sport, the correct information and key messages are being disseminated to the boxers, coaches, officials and fans. Worldwide, we will be hosting courses, workshops and seminars to enable everyone involved in boxing to perform with sportsmanship, honour and transparency in keeping with the codes and ethics of AIBA and the IOC. Extensive proactive programs will take place concerning our anti-doping policy in partnership with WADA as we fight more than ever against drugs in sport.
AIBA will be working hand in hand with our National Federations and Confederations, empowering them in their work while ensuring that their expertise is consistently used in helping guide ours. AIBA is a provider of opportunities, and we want all 201 of our NFs to use them to the fullest as they develop their next generations of potential Champions.
The Year of Africa will be the first example of the new era of legacy projects from AIBA and, across 2017, we will be working closely with the continent’s 54 National Federations to promote the partnerships, workshops and competitions that will help build upon the structures already in place here. Together, we will deliver support where it is most needed to help African boxing achieve the conditions in which it can flourish.
Throughout May, June and July, five Men’s Continental Championships will be held in Africa, the Americas, Asia, Europe and Oceania, giving the elite boxers world-class experience and acting as direct qualification tournaments for the 2017 AIBA World Championships scheduled in Germany. Running from 25 August to 3 September, the World Championships are the highlight of the year’s boxing calendar, and the great city of Hamburg will provide the perfect stage for the world’s best boxers.
Season VII of the World Series of Boxing begins in February, and we are excited to see new teams in the group stages going up against the likes of last year’s champions Cuba Domadores and fellow finalists British Lionhearts. This one-of-a-kind tournament has been overwhelmingly embraced by boxers and fans alike and the level of performance, production, crowds and accompanying atmosphere that WSB now commands make the new season another hugely anticipated event.
It is innovations such as these that AIBA will continue to explore in 2017 in order to progress the sport. After last year’s Olympic Games with major reforms concerning the removal of headguards and integration of non-Aiba boxers, we will seek in 2017 to keep our doors open to other organisations and previous positive discussions with WBA President Gilberto Mendoza have already displayed this will. These partnerships will allow AIBA to push boxing forward and develop its marketing and sponsoring programs.
AIBA is determined to use this year to further galvanise boxing, bringing progress through unity and a new golden age for our beloved sport and I look forward to sharing these ground-breaking moments with you throughout the year.
Happy New Year!