Boxers hit below the belt | india | Hindustan Times
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Boxers hit below the belt

We?ve heard of unfair play in sports, but what happened at a sports felicitation function here on Saturday was a new low.

india Updated: Apr 24, 2006 02:02 IST

We’ve heard of unfair play in sports, but what happened at a sports felicitation function here on Saturday was a new low.

Three Commonwealth Games-medal-winning boxers, who were among other medallists invited to the ceremony, were handed empty envelopes instead of cash awards as promised. And now, no one is owning up to the embarrassment.

The function was organised by the Table Tennis Federation of India (TTFI) to felicitate TT teams that won gold and bronze medals at the recently-concluded Commonwealth Games. The three boxers — Akhil Kumar (gold), Vijender (silver) and Jitender (bronze) — were invited at the behest of Indian Amateur Boxing Federation (IABF) president Abhay Singh Chautla ostensibly because they were from his hometown Bhiwani.

“We called the three boxers since Chautala wanted to felicitate them,” said TTFI secretary-general Mool Chand Chowhan. Interestingly, two other boxers who won medals but weren’t from Bhiwani weren’t invited.

But when chief guest and Lok Sabha speaker Somnath Chatterjee handed out the awards, the boxers found out their envelopes were empty.

Chowhan said the TTFI wasn’t supposed to finance the cash award for the boxers anyway. “Our president didn’t know how much was to be given, so we didn’t give them anything. The TTFI has nothing to do with the money,” he said.

The IABF said it wasn’t to blame. “The function was the TTFI’s, we just got invitations,” said an official. “Since something positive was happening, we didn’t ask any questions,” said IABF secretary P.K. Muralidharan Raja.

So who will finally pay up? Will it be Ajay Singh Chautala, the TTFI chief, who also happens to be the sitting MP from Bhiwani, or the IABF’s Abhay Singh Chautala?