Maharashtra knocked out as no state boxer in senior team; Haryana, Punjab ahead in race
In 1986, half of the boxers in the Indian team were from Maharashtra but in 2017, there is not a single state boxer in senior teamUpdated: Jul 29, 2017 12:23 IST
Hindustan Times, Pune
States like Punjab and Haryana are currently basking in sports glory. A majority of international athletes and Olympians have emerged from these two states, particularly in the field of boxing and wrestling. Maharashtraathletes are way behind, despite having the potential. The 2016 Rio Olympics saw 14 sports persons from Punjab represent India, while 20 athletes were from Haryana.
It’s not just about participation, but these players have also won medals. Boxer Vijender Singh won a bronze in Beijing, while wrestlers Yogeshwar Dutt and Sakshi Malik grabbed a silver and a bronze in the London and Rio Olympics, respectively.
The experts feel that lack of motivation and financial security are the major reasons distracting youth from taking up sports as a career in the state.
“In sports, Maharashtra is the most ignored and backward. The government sanctions several crores of rupees in their budget but hardly anything reaches the players. In 1986, half of the boxers in the Indian team were from Maharashtra and now in 2017, there not a single boxer in the senior Indian team,” said Olympian boxer Manoj Pingale.
“This is a debacle we have experienced due to lack of motivation and lack of proper facilities. On the other hand, Haryana, which was nowhere in boxing, bounced and thumped their way to a majority in the sport. Our boxers are leaving Railway jobs to apply for a post in the Haryana police. That’s the reputation they have earned. If Maharashtra government doesn’t take immediate steps, I fear the sport will get wiped out,” Pingale added.
“It’s very unfortunate that a national level boxer is forced to work as a newspaper boy. There is nothing painful than this,” he added, referring to HT’s expose on Akshay Mare, a national boxing medallist who works as a paper-delivery agent to make ends meet.
Echoing him, international wrestling referee and coach Dinesh Gund said, “In Maharashtra, the sports person who performs at international tournaments like Olympics, World Championship, Asian and Commonwealth Games get secured jobs. Navnath Fadtare and Narsingh Yadav are the classic examples. However, for a national winner, no provision has been made. They must apply through a sports quota, which has five per cent reservation. That’s not sufficient. This is the age and time, where players require the most support. Haryana and Punjab do offer jobs for national champions, and we must follow the path.”
Though, these sports persons are likely to get a job in police but even that recruitment is troublesome.
“In Haryana, a national champion is directly offered a job in police and the athlete can concentrate on his training. But for a job in Maharashtra police, the recruit is required to clear a written exam also. Most of the sports persons falter at this stage. Those who manage to secure the job through this process, find it difficult to take time out for training as they are put under official responsibilities,” said one Pune police sports person who wished not to be named.
It’s not just job security but these states offer a handsome amount of cash incentives for their players. For Rio Olympics, the state offered a prize of Rs 6 crore for gold, Rs 4 crore for silver and Rs 2.5 crore for a bronze medal. Haryana is the only state that offers cash awards at par to para athletes. Deepa Malik, who won a silver medal in the Rio paralympics, got Rs 4 crores.
“In Haryana, sport has become a profession. Cash incentives and job security are drawing more youth towards sports. That’s why Haryana has become the country’s top sporting state,” Vijender Singh, professional boxer.
“In Maharashtra, the sports person who performs at international tournaments like Olympics, World Championship, Asian and Commonwealth Games get secured jobs. Navnath Fadtare and Narsingh Yadav are the classic examples. However, for a national winner, no provision has been made,” Dinesh Gund, international wrestling referee and coach.
“Our boxers are leaving Railway jobs to apply for a post in the Haryana police. If Maharashtra government doesn’t take immediate steps, I fear the sport will get wiped out,” Olympian boxer Manoj Pingale.
First Published: Jul 29, 2017 12:21 IST