This Friday, a first-of-its-kind boxing match will be fought ‘live’ at Malad’s Inorbit Mall as Venky’s Mumbai Fighters take on LA Matadors in their fourth match of the World Series of Boxing (WSB) 2011-12 season, followed by another duel against Kazakhstan on December 16.
Nishank Joshi, DGM, Inorbit, says the mall believes sports to be the purest form of entertainment: “We’ve leased out a training ground for football and now tied up with WSB to showcase boxing in Mumbai. We’d love to continue with the association.”
Commonwealth gold medallist Akhil Kumar believes the match in the mall could help popularise the sport: “I fought in a mall in 2002 and my cousin Jitendra Kumar in 2007. Weekends are always crowded and people are invariably drawn to something new.”
A T-Box Mobile Arena has been set up. This is the first time a boxing match will be using the patented Swiss Technology. “It’s safe, modular, high on quality, with a capacity of up to 3,000 people per day and can be set up in any open space,” says Udith Sheth, team principal, Venky’s Mumbai Fighters.
“With our boxers winning medals, I’m confident that the audience will root for the Mumbai Fighters. Akhil got a lot of attention when he was at the mall on Monday.”
Mumbai Fighters lost 3-2 to Milano Thunder in Pune and got a 5-0 drubbing from Dynamo Moscow. Akhil attributes this to the new format and the fact that boxers, who were signed in October-November, had little training. “But with Mumbai backing us, we’re hoping for a win,” says Akhil, who’s been advised three weeks rest after a ligament tear.
The death of final-year student, Pramod Sav, from brain haemorrhage last Thursday, less than 36 hours after losing a bout in an inter-college boxing tournament, has sparked off concern. Nishank insists that as per WSB rules, all boxers have to go through a medical check-up before a fight and maintain a medical book. “On Friday, two ambulances, doctors specialising in sports medicine and a medical supervisor will be on stand-by,” he adds.
Akhil agrees on precautions and says Pramod died because he was too weak to fend off the blows after a malarial attack: “Don’t worry about us, just come and watch us fight.”