The creation of a new 12-member board to oversee the running of the Irish Athletic Boxing Association is one of 64 recommendations included in a wide-ranging review of the ailing organisation.
Here is a strong hint in the report that government funding could be cut off if reforms are not fully implemented.
“The consequences of not fully implementing this review will cut deep into the sport. The sport is heavily dependent on funding from Sport Ireland and elsewhere to survive,” the IABA said.
“This is not just funding to pay staff salaries or fund the high-performance program, but also funding that supports club-level programs, initiatives and capital expenditures.
“This is at risk if IABA does not see through the reforms that will increase the confidence of outside stakeholders to invest in the sport.”
The current board met yesterday for the first time since last fall and agreed to call an Extraordinary General Meeting (AGM) next month to discuss the report.
The results of the 2021 election of Officers to the Organization’s Central Council will also be announced at the Extraordinary General Meeting.
Those results have been delayed since last November, when 25 high-profile members were banned in an internal disciplinary dispute.
Confirmation that ballots are now being counted indicates that this issue, which arose before the arbitration courts of Sports Disputes Solution Ireland (SDSI), has finally been resolved. The ban was temporarily lifted in early 2021.
The report recommends that six members of the new board, including the chair, be independent appointments.
In addition, the President of IABA would not have voting rights on the new board, although he attends the meetings. A qualified trainer and a former Olympic boxer would sit on the board along with a representative from the four provincial councils.
Given IABA’s history, this proposal is likely to raise the hairs on the back of the necks of grassroots members, whose main criticism is that grassroots members have lost control of IABA due to the appointment of independent directors to the board.
Even more controversially, the report recommends that IABA’s Central Council – which runs the organization on a day-to-day basis – should be downsized from 37 to 15.
The report addresses the toxic relationship that exists between the high-performance unit and elements of the organization.
“Criticism of the HP Unit from some quarters appears to be based largely on the unfounded assumption that Irish boxing would have the same success whether the program was there or not.
“This is not supported by historical evidence, nor is it consistent with high-performance systems approaches adopted by other consistently successful programs across multiple sports. Largely driven by a small number of “loud” dissenting voices within the IABA structures, the HP unit has increasingly taken a more isolated approach to avoid engaging with elements of the structure due to a lack of support from certain quarters.
“The recent episode regarding the dissemination of an anonymous ‘SWOT’ analysis document regarding the HP Director is a very tangible example of this. This has created a toxic and unsustainable environment for the HP unit to operate. That has to change,” the report said.
Interestingly, however, the report recommends stronger links between the HPU and clubs, which has been called for by critics of the HPU. These new initiatives include:
A The establishment of regional cadres and training centers and programs.
B Running regular national and regional camps.
C Design of long-term development programs (including technical, tactical, lifestyle, nutritional, sports science elements.
D Coach enhancement programs with targeted further training for trainers at regional and club level
E Regular opportunities for regional and club coaches to present HP training camps and methods.
F Regular exchange of best practice ideas across paths.
“These initiatives should be the purview and responsibility of the HP director for design and oversight, working with appropriate personnel to achieve results at the national and regional levels.”
The report concluded: “Boxing has reached a pivotal moment in its journey. The sport, like any other, will always have its critics, but boxing needs to take control of the narrative that surrounds it and change perceptions.
“It will require a fundamental change in the overall approach, the foundation of which is built on a firm and enduring commitment to best practice from a governance perspective.
“This is critical to enhancing the sport’s reputation, building trust with key stakeholders, performing well commercially, attracting and retaining leadership talent and critically inspiring the next generation of boxers and volunteers.
“The opportunity is for Irish boxing to be recognized for its achievements both outside and inside the ring. There is a significant opportunity to act now to ensure Irish boxing thrives in the future.
“The road will not be easy and will require patience, resilience, hard work and most importantly unity. But it’s a fight worth fighting,” concludes the 68-page report, published tonight on the IABA website.
https://www.independent.ie/sport/other-sports/boxing/major-reform-of-iaba-recommended-in-report-with-egm-to-take-place-in-june-41636858.html A comprehensive reform of the IABA, recommended in the report with the EGM, is to take place in June