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Boxing chief Akira Yamane quits amid misconduct scandal

Kyodo

Japan Amateur Boxing Federation President Akira Yamane announced his resignation Wednesday following multiple allegations of misconduct, including pressuring referees to fix matches and misuse of grant money.

Yamane, 78, has denied several allegations against him, but acknowledged his relationship with a former gang leader, prompting Japan Sports Agency chief Daichi Suzuki and others to call for him to step down.

“Today, I tender my resignation. As president of the federation, I apologize to the athletes that such a problem has occurred. I am very sorry,” Yamane said at a news conference.

The announcement follows an emergency federation meeting Tuesday to address Yamane’s leadership of the organization, with the sheer number of allegations apparently making his position untenable.

“In the end, the board of directors left the decision up to me as the president, so I went home and consulted my wife. She told me I should take care of my troubles now, so I made the decision (to resign),” Yamane said.

In his statement, Yamane did not address his relationship with the organized crime figure. He also did not touch upon the alleged misuse of grant money.

Yamane’s alleged misconduct came to light after a privately formed amateur boxing support group, led by former JABF board member Yoshio Tsuruki, filed a complaint last month calling for the JABF to be investigated over 12 specific issues.

Tsuruki said Yamane needed to provide more information about his resignation and any relationship with the JABF going forward.

“The implication of his resignation is unclear. Is he quitting as the president? As a member of the board? I don’t know if he is even fully retiring,” Tsuruki said.

“This is not a step forward at all. Since our aim is to change the organization itself, there’s no meaning if he remains at the top.”

The controversy surrounding Yamane has sent shockwaves through the country’s sporting establishment, prompting the JABF to set up an independent committee to investigate the allegations at the behest of the Japanese Olympic Committee and the Japan Sport Association.

Several members of the JABF board of directors are also considering resigning amid the fallout, according to sources familiar with the matter.

Among other complaints, Yamane is said to have pressured referees to give favorable treatment to fighters from his native Nara Prefecture.

He is also accused of having held a monopoly on the sale of boxing gloves used in official JABF competitions. The JABF-approved gloves were reportedly supplied by a front company controlled by Yamane.