Indian sports has risen to a level where it gladly accepts other sports as its own. Why not? The repeated performances of our outstanding players have roped in several investors, leagues and most importantly the interest of people.
Indian boxing has been constantly bringing laurels to India when it comes to performances but the administrative front needs to pull up its socks if the continued performances are to be expected. 2014 had been a year of victories and controversies for the bodies and players. 2015 has to witness a change sooner or later and create better playing conditions for our boxers. Seems the New Year has brought some good news – Boxing India (BI) finally got clearance from the Union Sports Ministry. The new governing body, BI which is an accepted member of the International Boxing Association (AIBA), successfully got clearance from the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports, Government of India. The registration of BI is surely a good move for the players as well as the administration of Indian boxing. BI president Sandeep Jajodia is elated and feels that this move will prove to be a springboard and boost Indian boxing.
International Boxing Association
On a positive note, India got back into the International Boxing Association (AIBA) when the new body took over the charge. The brilliant performances by our boxers at the Commonwealth Games and the Asian Games in 2014 were proof to the fact that better administration and conditions can surely improve the level of boxing. The same year, there was also disappointment as the IOA did not grant affiliation to Boxing India, but that didn’t linger on for long.
Year 2014 in Indian boxing brought the nation pride but accompanied by the success were controversies that brought out the real face of inside administrative bodies and the injustice done to the players. The most recent was the case of Laishram Sarita Devi at the Incheon Games where she had to face a one-year ban because of her rejecting bronze medal. The big drama brought tears to the boxer and pleas from legends like Sachin Tendulkar to save Sarita’s career too proved futile.
The controversial loss of Sarita Devi in the Incheon Asian Games last year in the semifinals against South Korean Ji-Na Park raised many questions. Despite dominating bouts against the South Korean, the organizer settled for a bronze for the Manipuri which was heart-breaking for Sarita Devi. More controversy encircled as Sarita Devi, crying, refused to acknowledge the bronze medal and instead tried to put the medal around the South Korean’s neck. For such actions Sarita Devi had to face the consequences, even after she apologized later. Her apology didn’t matter and she was suspended with a ban of one year, which will end in October 2015. Not only the players but the coach too had to pay the price for her act. India’s Cuban coach Blas Iglesias Fernandes was suspended for two years by the AIBA since he called the judges cheats.
Indian boxing has been in controversies and drama since the last two years regarding the formation of federations. The process got so repulsive that the AIBA had to cease all groups and form their own committee to monitor the contenders. Eventually, Boxing India came up after a lot of drama. Despite all these issues, the Indian boxers performed at their best. In the Glasgow Commonwealth Games when the boxers had to play under the AIBA flag (national federation was under termination), they won five medals for the country, four silver medals and one bronze medal. The boxers despite the conditions showed what their love for the sport is.
But we can’t expect our boxers to keep on bringing pride to our country if we can’t provide the right conditions for them. And with Olympic qualification at risk, it’s high time that the administrators get into action.
Successful Indian boxers
Talking about the successful Indian boxers, Vijender Singh was the one in men’s category to make boxing popular when he became the first Olympic medalist and World Championship medalist. In the women’s arena, it was Manipuri MC Mary Kom and Sarita Devi, who later got caught in the Incheon Games controversy, to bring laurels and recognition to the sport with their dedication and hard work.
Legend Mary Kom put up her best show without much effort as she became the first Indian boxer to win gold at the Asian Games. With an Olympic medal and five world titles to her name, Kom has inspired many youngsters to join the sport and fight all odds to be in command of the boxing ring. Her battle towards becoming a renowned boxer has been marked by difficulties. So much so, that her life turned into a movie with Priyanka Chopra playing Kom’s role in movie Mary Kom. With three sons, a supportive husband and precious titles to her name, Mary Kom is indeed India’s pride.
It was not only Mary Kom who reached Bollywood, boxer Vijender Singh too starred in a movie named Fugly. The hard slog of these boxers brought investors, advertisements and recognition to Indian boxing. With the administration going the right way we can expect more star boxers in future.
Sarita Devi’s controversy harmed her career yet brought out many prejudiced matters when it comes to world boxing. Yes, what she did was not responsible behaviour by an athlete at world level. Was it a matter of favouritism? We all are left wondering and especially after we look at such past instances in sports overall where such controversies took place. Let’s have a look at what occurred even last year. In a final match between China and South Korea, the coach of team China raised the issue of favouritism when he said that the South Koreans had altered the wind flow inside the stadium. The Japanese coach too had the same complaint against the South Korean side. Coming to football, when a semi-final match between South Korea and Thailand was played at the 17th Asian Games, a penalty kick given to South Korea was not believed to be right by the President of the Football Association of Thailand. South Korea won 2-0.
Controversy of Iranian wrestler, and others
Then there was again a controversy related to an Iranian wrestler when he was adjudged winner in his match against South Korea’s player Jung Ji-Hyun but later after protest from South Korea, the result was reversed declaring the South Korean winner in the Greco-Roman semifinal wrestling match. In boxing too, the recent Sarita Devi case is clear. Another one was when Korean Ham Sang-myeon was declared the winner against Mongolian boxer Nyambayaryn Togstsogt in a 56 kg bout. However, the Mongolian player as well as the officials did protest against the decision. In men’s 49 kg category, it was Laishram Devendro Singh who was not declared winner in spite of out-punching his opponent, South Korea’s player Shin-Jong Hun, in all the three rounds. Laishram lost 0-3 in the quarterfinal bout.
Also, there was a controversy when Ed Picson, executive director of the Association of Boxing Alliances in the Phillippines, sent a letter to Asian Games boxing tournament supervisor David Francis to have a look at all matches and re-evaluate them followed by the match between Filipono player Ian Clark Bautista and Korean player Choe Sang-don. There have been many such cases which reveal the politics in sports at the international level.
Despite big names missing from the championship, the recently concluded boxing nationals saw the players make the 60th National Championship an immense accomplishment. Asian Games bronze medallist Satish Kumar clinched the super heavyweight medal at Boxing India’s first Men’s National Championship in Nagpur. Meanwhile, Olympian Sumit Sangwan who played from India in the 2012 London Olympics clinched gold medal in the light-heavy group. He was also named as the best boxer of the Contest.