Though the Indian men’s boxing contingent failed to grab a medal at the London Olympic Games, the international governing body for the sport, AIBA, has acknowledged the growing stature of boxing in the country by offering AIBA Professional Boxing (APB) contracts to Manoj Kumar and Jitender Kumar.
Manoj’s performance in London caught AIBA’s attention, while Jitender got the call because of his showing in the World Series of Boxing (WSB).
The Bhiwani boxer turned up for Indian Franchise, Mumbai Fighters, in the previous edition of the WSB. The APB will commence from June this year and it will be a two-staged — continental and world ranking — format tournament. Boxers will challenge each other on the basis of rankings in the tournament.
Both boxers will get a minimum of four bouts in a year with minimum-guaranteed appearance money of 17,600 Swiss Francs (Rs. 10 lakh). There are incentives for winning each bout, and the title bout alone can earn a boxer an additional purse of 22,500 Swiss Francs (Rs. 13 lakh).
“I have got an offer for APB, but before going further, I will like to discus it with my federation,” said Manoj, who hails from Kaithal.
“It is a really interesting concept. It requires a lot of endurance, as the initial bouts will be of six rounds, while the later bouts will be of eight rounds,” he added.
With Manoj and Jitender being the latest entrants, the numbers of Indian pugilists approached by the AIBA has risen to five.
Earlier, world championship bronze-medallist, Vikas Krishan, Devendro Singh and Asian Games medallist Suranjoy Singh were given the offer, and they are yet to take a call. These three are better ranked in their respective categories, so, apart from the minimum guarantee money, they have also been offered a signing amount.
Apart from the monetary gains, there will be 70 quota places for the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio for the APB boxers and 30 berths for the WSB. And, the boxers competing in these professional ventures can also represent their countries in competitions like the Asian Games and World Championships among others.
“APB is a great incentive for the boxers. It will give them a good chance to qualify for the Rio Games,” said Bhupinder Singh, a senior Indian Boxing Federation official.