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Services, boxing federation in spat that could hurt India’s boxers

The Services’ issue is that their boxers are not being permitted by the boxing federation of India to compete in the tournament as they belong to Army regiments and thus can only represent the Army and not their home state

cities Updated: Nov 05, 2018 16:03 IST
Pranav Shahaney
Pranav Shahaney
Hindustan Times, Pune
boxing federation,Pune,Elite men’s boxing nationals
The venue of the elite national boxing championship at the ASI, Mundhwa, in serenely deserted post what was a top-quality tournament that saw India’s best boxers in action last week. (Shankar Narayan/HT PHOTO)

Boxers representing the Services have hung up their gloves with some satisfaction; only until the India camp later this month, i.e. at the 3rd Elite men’s boxing nationals held at the Army Sports Institute in Mundhwa last week, the Services’ fighters dominated - reaching eight out of 10 weight-category finals and winning all eight bouts.

India’s medal preparations for the 2020 Olympics in boxing quite clearly is in the hands of its fighters from the country’s defence forces.

Which is why the organisers of this elite clash of India’s best boxers were not happy that close to 50 boxers were not allowed to participate in the tournament. Why?

They fell afoul of an Indian boxing federation ruling on which team a boxer can represent, how and when.

The Services’ issue is that their boxers are not being permitted by the boxing federation of India to compete in the tournament as they belong to Army regiments and thus can only represent the Army and not their home state. It is the same for other non-state teams, such as the Railways and the All India Police.

Amarjit Singh, vice-president, West Zone, general secretary, Boxing federation of India explains: “There’s a rule been made by the federation which clearly states that you have to take a transfer three months before the tournament. Probably, the formalities that needed to be completed by them were not done, and that’s why the boxers were not allowed to compete. It’s a clear cut rule we’ve made that says: ‘If a person is from the Army, his first preference is to represent the Army. In case he does not get selected by the Army, then he can play from his home state’.

“Also, if the Army is to allow those boxers to represent their home states, they have to give an NoC. The Army must have selected their team and only the top boxers in each weight category are picked. Now, the number two, three and four will obviously want to compete, but in this time frame, their respective state teams are already picked.”

Nevertheless, the ASI spared no effort in ensuring the tournament took place a in world-class environment with international-level facilities.

Manish Kaushik (lightweight) and Satish Kumar (super heavyweight) who represented India at the Commonwealth Games and Asian Games boxer Dinesh Kumar (welterweight), all were in action and won gold medals.

However, Narendra Rana, coach of the Services team, says: “I was extremely disappointed as there are a lot of boxers from the Services that represent their own states. However, the federation made the decision to remove them saying that a Services’ boxer cannot represent an external team. I told them that a national championship is for the nation and every boxer must be eligible to compete. The rule was that each team can have only one boxer from each weight class so we told our other boxers to compete at the district and state level in their respective states and secure a route into this tournament, but the federation was having none of that.”

Col Rakesh Yadav, member of the organising committee, adds: “It’s the decision the federation has made saying that this tournament is for boxers from all states. They fail to recognise that this is the only tournament. In my point of view, it’s completely incorrect. They may say that it’s how they want to promote the sport. They must find a better way to promote it. Because a sportsman has a life of only three years. If you don’t give him a chance, then his talent is wasted. I don’t want to get into a debate with the federation, but this decision is very harmful to our boxers and as a nation we’ll lose out on some of the best boxers in the country.”

Boxer Satish Singh says: “What I think is everyone worked extremely hard to be here. So it shouldn’t matter where they are from. If they deserve to be here, they should be allowed to compete.”

Why Army called security on Haryana coach Anil Malik

In the semi-finals on Thursday, November 1, Haryana coach Anil Malik entered the ring after a split decision saw Railways’ middleweight boxer Prayag Chauhan triumph over the Haryana fighter, Kavi Chauhan, in the middleweight. Malik was accompanied in his ring occupancy by two other Haryana coaches, the names of whom could not be confirmed.Malik did not allow the decision to be confirmed, standing in the ring with his pugilist, hurling abuses at the officials.Despite being asked to leave politely by the judges and the tournament organisers, they Haryana officials did not oblige. Soon, fans in the stands, close to a few hundred, began jeering loudly, but the Haryanvis refused to leave. Eventually, the ASI organisers called in security, at which point the Haryana team left the ring.

First Published: Nov 05, 2018 15:53 IST