As the bell resonated through the hall in a five-star hotel here late on Saturday, a new era in Indian boxing was ushered in. For the first time, fists thudded inside a makeshift boxing ring, in front of a motley crowd assembled to witness India's first 'fight night'.
The occasion too seemed fitting — to announce India's one-million-dollar (Rs 4.6 crore) deal with Monnet-Ispat group as the team's sponsor.
However, the ambience, though electrifying — with models ushering in India's top boxers amid deafening music —resembled a party, the gladiators were mere actors in a pre-designed script.
Beautiful women, well-heeled men, though out of place, were on high spirits (literally) as they cheered their heroes.
“We had to make a start,” explained Indian Boxing Federation (IBF) secretary, PK Muralidharan Raja. “We want to take the sport to another level. We want more participation from different sections of the society. If we can make some money, which we will utilise for the development of the sport, why not try?”
Even IBF chief, Abhay Singh Chautala, seemed satisfied. “It's just the beginning,” he said.
As Suranjoy Singh rattled Sanjoy Singh with lefts and rights with occasional uppercuts, the stage was set for Vijender to punch his way to victory. “We hope to bring laurels to our country,” he said.
The Commonwealth Games team, excluding Vijender (nursing an injured nose), will fly to Cuba on Monday for a training-cum-competition stint.