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Boxing: Japan Sports Agency chief asks JABF president Yamane to resign

Sports Agency head Daichi Suzuki (Mainichi)

TOKYO (Kyodo) -- Japan Sports Agency chief Daichi Suzuki said Tuesday that Japanese Amateur Boxing Federation President Akira Yamane should step down over his past relationship with a former gang leader and other allegations of improper conduct.

"If it's true (that he's had friends with someone with power in the gang world), he should resign," Suzuki said.

JABF President Akira Yamane

Yamane, a 78-year-old Nara Prefecture native, has denied several allegations against him, including pressuring referees to fix matches and misuse of grant money, but has acknowledged his relationship with a former gang leader.

The JABF announced Monday it will set up an independent committee to investigate the allegations.

Suzuki said that the revelations have "not only damaged boxing, but considerably tarnished the image of sports worldwide," and will look to the third-party committee's findings to quickly improve the training environment for athletes.

According to informed sources, several members of the JABF board of directors are considering resigning amid the fallout. Yamane, however, said that he is not considering stepping down over the allegations.

The allegations came to light after a privately formed amateur boxing support group filed a complaint last month calling for the JABF to be investigated and the relevant parties penalized over 12 specific issues.

In response, the Japanese Olympic Committee and the Japan Sport Association requested that the federation establish a third-party panel to investigate the allegations. The two bodies are asking for a report by Sept. 28.

In the complaint, the 333-member group, led by former JABF board member Yoshio Tsuruki, referred to a first-round bout at the 2016 National Sports Festival in Iwate Prefecture, where a local boxer lost on a split decision to a boxer from Nara Prefecture who was knocked down twice.

An active referee said Friday that Yamane, who used to head Nara's amateur boxing governing body, did not give explicit orders but created an atmosphere where referees had to give the win to a boxer from the prefecture.

Amid other allegations, Yamane is also said to have held a monopoly on the sale of boxing gloves used in official JABF competitions. The JABF-approved gloves were supplied by a front company controlled by Yamane, according to the complaint.

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