The Sports Ministry's policy for the core group has left Jai Bhagwan, the country's top lightweight (60 kg) boxer, in the cold. The Ministry had dropped his name from the 11-member squad for a competition in Kazakhstan on the pretext that he was not in the core group, formed for the preparation of the 2010 Commonwealth Games.
The Haryana pugilist came on top in the AK Mishra international competition, the selection criteria for the Kazakhstan tour, in March and en route to gold beat the core group boxers in his weight category.
Interestingly, the Indian Boxing Federation (IBF) had included Bhagwan's name in the squad but the Ministry dropped it.
“Before the AK Mishra meet, it had been announced that performance in it would be the criteria for selection. But I was surprised that my name was dropped despite the gold. If the Ministry will consider names on the basis of the core group, I will never get to represent the country,” Bhagwan said. “And till the Ministry reorganises the core group, this will not be
The core group was formed on the basis of results in the senior nationals at Bathinda last year and Bhagwan had missed the bus due to an injury.
“We had selected Jai Bhagwan and even forwarded his name but it was not cleared by the Ministry because he is not in the core group,” an IBF official said.
“We have again forwarded his name for a tour to the Czech Republic and hopefully his name will be cleared this time. The federation had also requested the Ministry to include him and Sunil Kumar (51kg) in the core group,” he added. “Boxing is extremely competitive and no one can take his position for granted. We had requested the Ministry that the fourth-ranked boxer in each weight category should be roll able so that a boxer, who is not in the core group but performing well in the domestic circuit, can be included,” he said.
As per the rules, if the federation wants to replace a player from the core group, it will have to wait for a meeting with the Sports Ministry on the inclusion or exclusion of names. It's been more than one-and-a-half months since Bhagwan's gold but his name is yet to be included in the core group as the meeting has not been held yet.
When contacted, a Ministry official explained: “We have a provision to change the core group. But then we have to follow procedures. Even in this case, his name has been forwarded, but until and unless we hold a meeting to decide who to replace, we can not do anything.”