No promise of steady income: Story of professional boxing in India
Boxing has always been a famous sport in our country. India has been churning out several boxers over the years in hopes of an Olympic medal. While only Vijender Singh and Mary Kom have been able to achieve that dream, some have turned to pro-boxing in hopes of a better paycheck. The life of a boxer depends a lot on training and practice.
The process of getting ready for a fight requires extensive coaching and preparation. However there is also a need for constant funding for a boxer to stay in good shape. But in contrast to the needs, the situation is such that many boxers fail to raise up the required amount to get themselves in top shape for a fight.
Professional boxing is still in nascent stage in India with only Vijender Singh able to achieve some success. There are still a lot of boxers in the country struggling to make ends meet. Rajesh Kasana, popularly known as ‘Lukka’ in the boxing circuit, has ventured into the professional side of the sport to fulfil his desire of becoming a top athlete.
“I sell tea for Rs 10 and some eatables to earn my livelihood,” said Rajesh in an interview earlier.
The former tea seller has now become the top attraction for new promotion Mega Boxing, which is owned by Bare Knuckled Promotions. Lukka is hoping to earn some handsome rewards with his pursuit for excellence in the world of professional boxing. After winning in the main event and beating Ivor Lastrilla, Kasana hopes to share the prize money with his mother.
‘I would first share it with my mother and since I spend a lot of my time in training, I would like to spend the money on my training to enhance my skills.’
Going into the combat sports scene in the country, Kasana thinks India is still trying to develop a culture as professional boxing is picking up steam. But the challenge still remains of making ends meet.
‘India is still at a sprouting stage for adapting to combat sports professionally hence the challenges are comparatively more. Professional boxing in India is now slowly picking pace yet the opportunities to perform are still minimal and it doesn’t promise a steady source of income. The pool of opportunities that lie internationally are financially heavy, it is difficult to go abroad to fight when coming from a limited income background.’
When asked what could be done to improve the standard of combat sports in India, Kasana thinks that the country to ‘break the monopoly of few particular games and take an initiative to promote combat sports among the masses.’
‘Currently, combat sports in India face a lack of appreciation and support from the government, private organizations, investors as well as the viewers. India will have to break the monopoly of few particular games and take an initiative to promote combat sports among the masses. Incomplete knowledge is what stops the people from taking up combat sports hence the authorities need to bring schools and institutions confidence so that learning can start at an early age. Internationally the competition is highly trained and has access to resources that our athletes still don’t have. To become a premier nation, the authorities will have to ensure that athletes are provided better training facilities and regular platforms to hone their skills.’
Kasana has witnessed a change in combat sports arena in the last few years. With promoters like BKP backing boxing to make it big in India, Kasana has seen people become more aware and open towards the concept of professional boxing.
‘When I started pro boxing, people were not enthusiastic about the sport or very supportive of it. In the last few years, people are more aware and open towards the concept of professional boxing. I started with almost no audience in the stands to witness over 1000 people attending a ticketed show. With the increasing interest among people, there has been a huge rise in the number of boxers too.’
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