Questions raised over London 2012 Olympic boxing scores

By Anna Adams and Meirion Jones
BBC Newsnight

  • Published

Questions about the scoring in the Olympic men's boxing have been raised after a series of disputed results.

Last year Newsnight spoke to Olympic boxing insiders who alleged London 2012 medals could be bought.

We were told $9m had been paid from Azerbaijan to the international boxing authorities in return for two golds.

The International Boxing Authority (AIBA) denied any wrong doing. The IOC found no formal evidence of cash for medals as it stands.

However, some of the results over the last few days have raised some serious questions about the scoring system.

Eyebrows were first raised last Wednesday when Azerbaijan fought Japan.

The Azeri bantamweight Magomed Abdulhamidov won the match despite going down six times in the final round.

After an appeal by Japan the decision was overturned. The boxer from Azerbaijan was out, the Japanese fighter reinstated and the referee was on the next plane home to Turkmenistan.

Spectator reaction

Days later another Azeri, Teymur Mammadov, entered the ring and was awarded a very narrow victory against a Belarusian fighter Siarhei Karneyeu.

In the third round he seemed to commit holding fouls without being heavily penalised. The crowd and commentators were astounded when he won.

Belarus appealed but this time it was not upheld.

This result will not have surprised everybody.

Last year a Newsnight investigation got hold of a confidential investment agreement between someone from Azerbaijan and World Series Boxing, which is run by AIBA, who also run Olympic Boxing.

The investor from Azerbaijan paid $9m to fund an almost bankrupt tournament called the World Series Boxing (WSB). The contract had been e-mailed by Azerbaijan's Minister of Emergency Situations Kamaladdin Heydarov.

The insiders said Ivan Khodabakhsh, the Chief Operating Officer of WSB, told them that a secret deal had been done in return for two gold medals.

One whistle blower told Newsnight: "Ivan boasted to a few of us that there was no need to worry about World Series Boxing having the coin to pay its bills. As long as the Azeris got their medals, WSB would have the cash."

Another said that Mr Khodabakhsh came in and said: "We are safe now - Azerbaijan came in - we have to give them medals for that."

"He was talking about gold medals in London in return for millions of dollars of secret payments," the insider added. "Medals are being sold so blatantly it's amazing."


But Mr Khodabakhsh told Newsnight that claims that there was any deal with Azerbaijan were "an absolute lie".

The president of the International Boxing Association, Ching-Ko- Wu who was ringside with David Cameron on Wednesday, said:

"The allegation that AIBA took a $10m bribe from Azerbaijan in exchange for two gold medals at the Olympic Games in London is untrue.

"I have worked extremely hard over the past six years to clean up amateur boxing after years of corruption scandals under the previous administration.

"There is only one way to win a gold medal at the Olympic Games and that is to train hard and fight well."

Boxing has had its fair share of scandals and accusations of match fixing. The most memorable one was at the Seoul Olympics in 1988 when the American Boxer Roy Jones Junior lost out to South Korean fighter

Three judges were later suspended amid accusations the boxing authorities had been bribed $2m by South Korea in return for two gold medals.

The scoring system has since changed and there is no evidence that any of the fights at London 2012 involving Azerbaijan or any other countries have been fixed.

There have been a number of appeals by other countries. Tom Stalker, from the British Boxing team's appeal was rejected by AIBA. American Welterweight Errol Spence was upheld after he fought India's Krishan Vikas.

Cost of appeals

Some people would like to see even more transparency in the scoring.

Our anonymous whistle blower said: "The reason I wanted to blow the whistle was to make sure that all the results were above board. But there are some very serious questions that need to be answered and I would like to know why the IOC can't intervene.'

Jim Neilly, BBC commentator who has been ringside at all the fights, said scoring has always been subjective and no scoring system was fool proof.

He said: "Boxing has to be seen to be squeaky clean here for the remainder of the London Olympics and if there is something as major as Roy Jones Junior or any incident or scandal the IOC would have to look very seriously at boxing.

"The whiff of that scandal has hung around since 1988. The big success of these games has been in women's boxing and that will help keep the sport in the Olympic Games."

It costs $500 every time an appeal is lodged and he said many countries such as Cuba cannot pay to contest the decisions.

Mr Neilly added: "It's upsetting because I still believe the Olympic games should be true and altruistic and Corinthian and the best person should win.'

Teymur Mammadov was defeated on Friday and finished with a bronze medal.

The other Azeri boxer Magomedrasul Mezhidov fights in the semi-finals later on Friday for a place in Sunday's final where he will face either Team GB's Anthony Joshua or Kazakhstan's Ivan Dychko.

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