2016 Olympic Boxing Investigation Reveals 7-10 Suspicious Matches, Bout Manipulation

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured Columnist IVSeptember 29, 2021

Rio , Brazil - 16 August 2016; Vladimir Nikitin of Russia, right, exchanges punches with Michael Conlan of Ireland during their Bantamweight Quarterfinal bout at the Riocentro Pavillion 6 Arena during the 2016 Rio Summer Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. (Photo By Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile via Getty Images)
Photo By Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile via Getty Images

Investigators flagged seven to 10 boxing matches at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro that may have been subject to bout manipulation, according to the Guardian's Sean Ingle.

"It is understood that one of those fights involves the Irish boxer Michael Conlan, who lost on a hugely controversial split decision to Russia’s Vladimir Nikitin in the quarter-finals of the bantamweight division in Rio de Janeiro," Ingle reported.

In June, the International Boxing Association (AIBA) commissioned Richard McLaren to oversee an investigation into any possible match-fixing at the 2016 Summer Games.

Concerns had been raised prior to the start of the event. Owen Gibson of the Guardian spoke to a senior official within amateur boxing who said they were confident some judges and referees "will be corrupted."

Conlan's defeat to Nikitin was perhaps the most notable result that came under immediate scrutiny. Conlan said after the bout he had been "cheated" and "robbed of my Olympic dream."

Following the 2016 Summer Olympics, AIBA suspended all 36 judges and referees who worked during the Games.

The scrutiny toward AIBA around that time extended beyond the Olympics. The New York TimesKen Belson and Ognian Georgiev reported in October 2016 investigators for accounting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers found a $10 million loan to the organization from a private company based in Azerbaijan.

The loan was intended to fund a boxing league in North America but was never paid back. AIBA couldn't account for how it used $4.5 million of the loan, either.

"Some former AIBA officials noted that the loan coincided with an uptick in medals by Azerbaijani boxers," Belson and Georgiev wrote.

Ingle's report, meanwhile, comes weeks after Christophe De Kepper, the director general of the International Olympic Committee, wrote a letter to AIBA president Umar Kremlev regarding the IOC's "deepest concerns" that remain unresolved.

De Kepper closed the letter by saying boxing's place as part of the Olympics' program in 2024 and beyond could be under evaluation.