Timing-wise it’s perhaps suitably dubious, but Amy Broadhurst and Lisa O’Rourke are both now in receipt of the $100,000 in prize money owed by the International Boxing Association (IBA) after their gold medal wins at the World Championships in Istanbul some five months ago.
On Thursday, on the eve of the European women’s boxing championships in Budva, Montenegro, where Broadhust will again fight for gold, the IBA confirmed the prize money from Istanbul has now been paid to both Irish boxers.
There had been increasing concern around this process, given the state of the IBA’s finances and dependency on chief sponsor Gazprom, the Russian majority state-owned gas behemoth currently subjected to a series of sanctions given the war in Ukraine.
Given the IBA’s reliance on Gazprom, this had impacted on the IBA’s bank accounts and access to funds, including the $2.4 million in total prize money announced on the back of Gazprom’s sponsorship for the World Championships staged back in May, the first time any financial rewards were offered at a women’s championships.
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It included $100,000 for each of the dozen weight category gold medal winners, $50,000 for winning silver, and $25,000 each for winning joint bronze.
The Irish women won gold within a half hour of each other, Broadhurst first at light-welterweight, then O’Rourke at light-middleweight, the $100,000 in prize money now coming some five months later.
The European championships are staged by the European Boxing Confederation (EUBC), under the auspices of the IBA, though there is no prize money on offer.
The Gazprom deal is reportedly worth around $31 million to the IBA, set to expire at the end December. Since December 2017, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has suspended all funding to the IBA, which last year dropped all reference to the once Amateur International Boxing Association (AIBA).
The delay in delivering prize money comes against the backdrop of the latest fight to keep boxing in the Olympics, the IBA staging an extraordinary congress last month in Armenia where current president Umar Kremlev, the Russian businessman, survived a vote of confidence.
[ Ireland’s World champions Broadhurst and O’Rourke yet to receive $100,000 prize money four months after event ]
[ World champions: Amy Broadhurst and Lisa O’Rourke win gold medals ]
An IOC letter to the IBA last month highlighted concerns around the “financial dependency” on Gazprom and an “increased” role of the presidential office in Moscow. A final decision on boxing’s inclusion in the 2028 Games in Los Angeles will be made next year.
The IBA last week also announced the controversial lifting of the ban on Russia and Belarus from all boxing competitions with immediate effect, though entries for the European championships had already been closed.
In a statement on Wednesday, Kremlev again called on the IOC to reconsider its approach to all athletes: “I urge the IOC to open the window for the athletes to keep performing, and I urge changing the policy that excludes athletes.”