The AIBA Men’s World Boxing Championships marked its return to Belgrade for the first time since 1978, with a spectacular Opening Ceremony that showcased the convergence of boxing’s rich history with the modernisation of the sport under its new leadership.
During the event, the audience was taken through a captivating journey of boxing’s history and came face to face with the Val Barker Trophy, one of the sport’s most iconic accolades. It was presented by the Vice President of the boxing federation of Kazakhstan, Bakhtiyar Artayev, who announced that it was his special mission to come to Serbia not only to support his team and to represent the Olympics Championships, but "to pass on the history of this important boxing trophy."
As AIBA President, Umar Nazarovich Kremlev, took to the stage to lift the trophy, the opening ceremony set the tone for a memorable two weeks of action. Some of the people to feature in the event will include various athletes who are part of a 'Fair Chance Team'. This team was created for athletes who felt forced to leave their countries, often because of conflict. For the first time in an AIBA competition, the team walked alongside the competing countries as part of the athletes’ parade.
More than 500 athletes from over 88 countries will take part in the competition, which will run until November 6 in Belgrade. It's a city that the AIBA President, Umar Nazarovich Kremlev, was quick to praise. He explained that he was more than happy to be in Belgrade, "the capital of the Men's World Boxing Championships". He added that "each boxer, coach and the national team trained hard, prepared to come here and demonstrate their excellence."
The opening ceremony was kicked off with a series of artistic performances from the likes of boxing legend Roy Jones Jr and Romanian singer Inna. They lit up the Štark Arena, wrapping up a memorable night for the world of boxing as AIBA’s rebuilding process continues.
After years of financial and governing turmoil, the International Boxing Association is determined to clean up the sport whilst ensuring AIBA becomes an open, fair and transparent organisation that serves as a welcoming home for all boxers.