“Decided To Not Sanction Any Boxing Championships In Russia” | Sports Sanction Or Stop Doing Business With Russia

Image Credit: Courtesy of the WBC

As the world watches war ravage Ukraine from the Russian offensive, the world of sports is beginning to adjust to the new realities.

Boxing has made the most significant statement in dealing with Russia as the four major sanctioning bodies have decided to stop doing business in the country.

On Saturday, the International Boxing Federation, World Boxing Council, World Boxing Association, and World Boxing Organization announced that they would not sanction any title fights in Russia due to its invasion of Ukraine.

When Boxing Unites

“Just as the world claims for cease of fire, our organizations have decided to not sanction any boxing championships in Russia,” said a joint statement from the WBC, IBF, WBA, and WBO.

“Just as this war has put a stop of boxing in Ukraine, our organizations will not sanction fights in Russia until further assessment of the situation.”

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The WBC, the coveted green and gold belt holder, took the first step when it announced that it would not “recognize or sanction” boxing activities within Russia indefinitely. The organization will reestablish its titling abilities under the condition of “the reestablishment of peace and the preservation of human rights in Ukraine.”

Effecting Global Change

Perceived as the preeminent sanctioning body in boxing, the WBC has been at the forefront of international sanctioning to affect societal change in the past.

When apartheid was still a societal more in South Africa, the WBC froze its official boxing activities from 1975 to 1992 to show its commitment to human rights.

“The Great Family of boxing cannot be a passive observer of an act as inhuman as attacking Ukraine,” WBO President Francisco “Paco” Valcarcel tweeted on Friday.

Russian Repercussions

The decision’s impact is immediate, as boxing title events in Russia in March for the WBA, WBC, and WBO will be effectively canceled. Additionally, Russian promoters will not be able to promote their events as globally recognized title fights, which ultimately is bad for business and ticket sales.

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The process of advancing a boxer’s rankings in Russia is now essentially defeated due to the sanctions, with the hope it will put pressure to stop the war in Ukraine.

Current and former boxing champions from Ukraine have decided to take up arms for their country. Pugilistic supermen like Vitali and Wladimir Klitschko, Oleksandr Usyk, and Vasiliy Lomachenko have all gone back to Ukraine to be with their families and take up arms.

FIFA Follows Suit

The sport of boxing is not alone in changing the way it does business with Russia.

FIFA has also taken a new stance with the Russian national soccer team. However, the team can still take the pitch ahead of some World Cup qualifying games.

On Sunday, the international soccer governing body announced that Russian players would still play against neighboring countries like Poland in upcoming matches.

However, like boxing, FIFA is not allowing any matches in Russia. Instead, Russia can only play in neutral territories, and the Russian flag cannot be displayed, nor the Russian anthem played. The team will also be rebranded as the Football Union of Russia.

The sports world is making sure Russia understands that its actions have a severe reaction.

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Rhett Butler is a Boxing Writer Association of America Journalist, Play-By-Play Commentator, Combat Sports Insider, and Former Mixed Martial Arts and Boxing Promoter. The New York City native honed his skills at various news outlets including but not limited to: TIME Magazine, Money Magazine, CNN's Wolf Blitzer Reports, and more. Rhett hosts the PRITTY Left Hook podcast, a polarizing combat sports insider's take featuring the world's biggest names.