He may have been missing from India, but his heart always remained here. Gurcharan Singh, one of India’s finest pugilists, has once again shown immense interest to return and represent the country in international boxing events. “I want to come back,” was the reason behind his phone call from New Jersey.
Just days after Gurcharan ‘vanished’ in 2000 from a training camp in the Czech Republic, he realised his folly. The Army, where he was serving, declared him an AWOL (absent without official leave) and was facing enquiry and even jail on his arrival. Almost 14 years after that fateful day, Gurcharan’s heart is longing to come back to India. “Not that it is now that I want to come back, I always wanted to but somehow I was not getting an opportunity,” he said. With the AIBA (international boxing federation) easing its restrictions on professional boxers participating in Olympics or other international events, Gurcharan is eying the 2016 Olympics in Rio.
“I know I can bring laurels to the country,” he said. “I have matured and I know what it takes to succeed at the highest level. Sydney is still fresh in my mind and I still feel I was robbed of a medal.”
Gurcharan, who would be competing in super heavyweight if he manages to find a way to represent India, felt things changed since then. “I sincerely felt the boxing federation, especially after PK Muralidharan Raja took over, became more professional. It is really sad to see how the newly-elected banned body ruined whatever work he had done,” he lamented. “I am sure if Muralidharan Raja had been here he would have expedited my return because he knows what needs to be done. I have full faith in him and also back him in his endeavour to clean the sport.”
Gurcharan also said that the issue with the Army has been sorted. “I have made some money but money is not everything. At the same time, I have gained a lot of experience and if I come back I will be able to share it with my fellow boxers here.”
Muralidharan Raja, who took up his case before the 2010 Commonwealth Games, said it was possible for him to make a comeback but everything depended on the AIBA.
“Right now, there is no recognised body in India. Only after some federation gets the affiliation back will the procedure start,” he explained. “He is one of India’s finest boxers and he is a crowd puller and no matter what he will be a hit.”