Sanjay Dutt: ‘Face’ of amateur Indian boxing | entertainment | Hindustan Times
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Sanjay Dutt: ‘Face’ of amateur Indian boxing

The president of the Indian Amateur Boxing Federation (IABF), Abhey Singh Chautala, has announced Sanjay Dutt as the official brand ambassador for boxing in India.

entertainment Updated: Sep 15, 2010 13:36 IST
Roshmila Bhattacharya

The president of the Indian Amateur Boxing Federation (IABF), Abhey Singh Chautala, has announced Sanjay Dutt as the official brand ambassador for boxing in India.

Shailendra Singh, joint MD, Percept, the official marketing agent of Indian boxing for five years, met Dutt at Mehboob Studio on Monday on the sets of Indra Kumar’s Double Dhamaal. He was encouraged by Dutt’s response to the first of the Fight Nights in the inaugural edition of the Lagaan Cup, which took place in Pune last night and was televised ‘live’ on Star News.

Dutt couldn’t drive down to Pune but he sent a message to the Indian team spearheaded by Olympian bronze medallist Vijender Singh. “Chak de phatte India!” he urged, promising to be at the next fight. Two Fight Nights are scheduled in December, after the Commonwealth Games.

Singh is hoping that the Lagaan Cup can take boxing to schools and universities and extend its fan base. “It would also help boxers earn a livelihood from the sport and bring in sponsors,” says Singh. Dutt has promised to help two promising boxers with funds and contacts in a bid to help them turn professional. Singh believes this year’s Arjuna awardee, Dinesh Kumar, is one such boxer.

Kumar, along with Vijender Singh, had earlier signed up for the World Series Boxing (WSB) that comes to India in November. But the realisation that this would debar them from representing the country at international competitions has lead to the duo opting out of the WSB this year. Both will contest the Fight Nights supported by the IABF, along with Suronjoy Singh, Jai Bhagwan and Dilbagh Singh. “Even if they fight every weekend, they can still compete for a medal,” says Singh.

An IPL-style boxing series is also expected to flag off by December. It will see eight cities competing against each other, and Singh is hoping that like Shah Rukh Khan, Preity Zinta and Shilpa Shetty in cricket, Dutt will buy a boxing franchise too.

Patiala Express, Vijender Singh’s debut film, is expected to start by next March and open by December to coincide with the pre-Olympic hype. Won’t Tigmanshu Dhulia’s Bhiwani with Randeep Hooda that has the support of the IBF, steal a march over it? “If Bhiwani can up the interest in boxing, no one will be happier,” insists Singh.

With Sushil Kumar bagging gold at the recent World Wrestling Championship, Singh also has big plans for ‘kushti’ and his other client. “Once he’s back from his Dabangg promotional tour in Europe, I’m hoping to persuade Salman Khan to be the face of Indian wrestling. Suneil Shetty has already offered his support to both boxing and wrestling,” says Singh.

Quiz him on whether a film with Sushil Kumar is in the offing and he says, “Sushil is somewhat introverted but he’s started to open up. Let’s see.”