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Boxing group not satisfied by JABF chief Akira Yamane’s resignation

by Kaz Nagatsuka

Staff Writer

The group opposing Japan Amateur Boxing Federation chairman Akira Yamane is looking for a complete systematic transformation of the JABF. Otherwise, they feel, the very existence of the sport in Japan could be in jeopardy going forward.

That said, the members are not content with only Yamane’s resignation on Wednesday in Osaka, which came a few hours before they held their own news conference in Tokyo.

The group was cautious in its reaction to Yamane’s resignation.

“We certainly heard about it (the announcement), but it’s still unclear whether he’s resigning as the chairman or as a board member, and whether or not he continues to have influence on the federation,” said Yoshio Tsuruki, the head of the privately formed amateur boxing support group. “So we’re a little confused right now.”

What the group is seeking is an assurance from Yamane that the 78-year-old is completely cutting ties with the governing body.

They want Yamane expelled and all board members of the governing body to be dismissed in order to bring about a complete overhaul of the organization.

Yamane has been accused of multiple improprieties by the 333-member group. In the long list of accusations, Yamane was said to have pressured referees for favorable treatment for fighters from Nara Prefecture, where he had served as the chairman of the prefectural federation.

On Wednesday, the group revealed a pair of audio recordings it obtained that suggest there were conversations about the manipulation of matches inside the federation.

In one of the recordings, a man alleged to be Yamane says he pressures referees into giving wins to boxers from Nara Prefecture when their fights are close.

According to the group, the recording was taped on February 5, 2016. Yusuke Toda, the group’s attorney, said it has full confidence in credibility of the recordings.

The group has also accused Yamane, and other board members who supported him, of misappropriation of the subsidy from the Japan Sport Council meant for a boxer. Yamane admitted to this, yet acknowledged he didn’t know if it was against the rules.

The group said there have been other questionable uses of the federation’s money, such as “reward money” for those who have been part of the Olympic delegations. The group said the operation lacks transparency.

The group added it has confirmed through its investigation other questionable usages of money, such as payments to board members under the pretext of “transportations fees” or “communication costs.”

The group wants the federation to be completely reborn and all things decided “democratically,” instead of by a few executives with ultimate power.

Toda said the term for the chairman of federation is supposed to be two years, per the articles of the association. So the fact Yamane, who assumed the post in 2011, has acted as a lifelong chairman has been improper.

Toda insisted the investigation of the federation would ideally be conducted by the Japanese Olympic Committee, not the independent probe which is going to be launched by the federation.

“We are concerned if objectivity will be secured with the third party committee,” Toda said.