Azerbaijan's Suleyman Mikayilov announced in a letter to Member Federations he will stand for AIBA President ©AIBA

Azerbaijan's Suleyman Mikayilov has declared his intention to stand for President of the International Boxing Association (AIBA) when the governing body holds its elections later this year.

Mikayilov, a member of the AIBA Executive Committee, made the announcement in a letter sent to Member Federations today.

He is the first to publicly confirm he will run for the top job at AIBA, suspended as the Olympic governing body for the sport by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) last June.

In the letter, seen by insidethegames, the Azerbaijan Boxing Federation vice-president vowed to clear AIBA's $16 million (£12.5 million/€13.5 million) debt within three months of the election.

Securing backing from private investors, hiring a new executive director to replace American Tom Virgets and establishing what he calls a "Vision Committee" - aimed at overseeing change at the embattled worldwide body - are among the other pledges made in the letter.

Mikayilov claimed a report should be sent to the IOC once these steps have been completed in an attempt to lift the suspension.

AIBA has been without a permanent President for 18 months after Gafur Rakhimov stood down in March 2019.

The troubled Federation has since been led by Morocco's Mohamed Moustahsane.

AIBA has been led by Interim President Mohamed Moustahsane since March 2019 ©AIBA
AIBA has been led by Interim President Mohamed Moustahsane since March 2019 ©AIBA

AIBA is considering holding its Extraordinary Congress, scheduled to take place in Budapest from December 12 to 13 and which includes the Presidential election, virtually in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

"I am desperate to change the current status of AIBA and have decided to put my candidacy forward to become President," Mikayilov wrote.

"Since the 2018 Congress, AIBA embarked on a course of self-destruction and the IOC suspension in June 2019 came as a perfect storm to sweep away our pride and to only leave an unforgettable embarrassment.

"During this suspension period, so many different opinions and voices have been heard offering to take our ship safely to port.

"However, and most unfortunately, we are still divided and common goals have not been properly drawn up so that we can regain our pride under strong leadership.

"We cannot afford to make another mistake at the December Congress."

Mikayilov, who became a member of the AIBA Executive Committee at the 2018 Congress in Moscow, promised to "clear the conflict" with Benkons and "all pending issues" with First Contract International Trade (FCIT).

AIBA's debt with Benkons needs to be paid by next year, while FCIT, whose chairman is Executive Committee member Wu Di, is considered one of the organisation's important creditors.

FCIT and AIBA reached a settlement agreement in 2018, which agreed to turn the debt into a marketing deal with AIBA.

The company had initially demanded AIBA repay the CHF19 million (£16.3 million/$21 million/€17.6 million) loan it provided to the now defunct Boxing Marketing Arm, which was tasked with promoting and selling rights for all AIBA products.

The Azerbaijani has pledged to oversee widespread reform at AIBA ©Getty Images
The Azerbaijani has pledged to oversee widespread reform at AIBA ©Getty Images

Mikayilov's proposed Vision Committee would be formed of external experts and would "develop all actions for deep change at AIBA" in areas including governance, finances and ethics - the three main issues the IOC had with AIBA when it suspended the body - and competitions.

Statute changes, considered vital if AIBA is to regain its status with the IOC, are also due to be voted on at this year's Congress.

Under AIBA's current constitution, Moustahsane's mandate as Interim President expired on March 29, exactly 365 days after he was elected following the resignation of Rakhimov.

The Moroccan's tenure was further extended after the AIBA Executive Committee allowed him to continue until the postponed Congress.

It effectively meant AIBA had breached its own constitution by not having an election for a permanent President within the time-frame outlined in the document.

Candidates wishing to stand for AIBA President must be nominated by their National Federation.

Applications for President and other positions have to be sent to AIBA no later than 40 days before the Congress.

The deadline would fall on November 2 if AIBA decides to stick to its current timeline for the Congress.

"I strongly believe that everyone deserves a second chance and AIBA should grab this chance in December by electing the right leader," Mikayilov added.

"I now declare that I will no longer stand by to watch our ship sink without doing anything to save it."