Sponsor puts money in the ring
Boxing is set to become the only other sport in the country after cricket to have a graded contract system. Impressed with the pugilists’ good showing at the Olympics and the World Cup in Russia, the Sahara Group has signed a four-year deal with the Indian Boxing Federation (IBF).
The contract system, to begin with, will include the country's top 13 boxers divided in three slabs. The deal will be officially announced in the coming week.
“We had been in talks with Sahara for quite a while. Finally, the deal has been finalised. We are going to sign and announce the deal officially later this week,” said an official from the IBF. “The paperwork has been done and all the boxers have agreed to the terms.”
The first slab, where the boxers are likely to earn Rs 10-13 lakh a year, includes Olympic bronze medallist Vijender Singh and Olympic quarterfinalists Akhil Kumar and Jitender Kumar.
Dinesh Kumar and A.L. Lakra, who each won a bronze at the World Cup, are in the second slab and will earn Rs 3-4 lakh annually.
Asian Championship medallist Dilbag Singh, Youth World Champion Nanao Singh, Youth Commonwealth Games gold medallist V. Santosh and five others find themselves in the third slab where they will draw Rs 2-3 lakh each.
The boxers will get 25 per cent of the amount on signing, followed by another 50 per cent after six months, while the remaining 25 per cent will be paid at the end of the year. The boxers’ performance will be taken into account while renewing their contracts.
“We had never even dreamt of getting money for playing for the country. This is a step in the right direction and will surely take Indian boxing to a new level," said a top boxer.
According to the deal, the boxers have to allot seven days a year for Sahara's promotional activities. This deal, however, doesn't extend to the team jerseys. The IBF will be free to look for other sponsors for the team shirt.
“The boxers are free to do personal endorsements as long as they are not in conflict with the Sahara Group," said an IBF official.