THRISSUR: Controversy continued to dog the National Games after two boxers were knocked out of the competition on Friday before their bouts even began.
The duo — Vijender of Rajasthan and Lalnunhlua of Mizoram — were in for a rude shock when they arrived for their bouts at the Triprayar Indoor stadium. They were informed by officials that their bouts were already over and that their opponents, both pugilists representing hosts Kerala, had been awarded walkovers.
Earlier, officials had made the decision to start the opening day’s proceedings, scheduled to start at 4pm in both the Games website and in notices handed out to the teams, four hours early at 12pm. However, both Rajasthan and Mizoram alleged they had not been made aware of this decision.
A distraught Vijender was seen sitting in the stands with his head in his hands while Rajasthan officials pleaded their case with the organisers. “The Games schedule says the boxing event starts at 4 pm. The notices that they gave to us says the same thing. Yet they decided to start the bouts without even informing us. We are staying at a hotel that is more than 20km away from the venue. How can we make it in time if they don’t tell us well in advance?” he asked.
Mizoram team officials were equally livid. “We have come from far and spent a lot of money to reach here. Now they are telling us that our boxer cannot fight. They have to reconsider,” Mizoram’s team manager Lalhmingmawia Ralte told SS.
“In my ten years of coaching, not one of my boxers have conceded a match due to not arriving on time. This is not acceptable,” Duhzuala Lal, the team’s boxing coach, chipped in.
Officials at the venue claimed that all teams had been notified of the change in schedule and that such last-minute changes were frequent in boxing. Competitions manager for boxing, Narender Singh Mor said that he would discuss the issue with the concerned officials and see if there was a way back in for the boxers.