THRISSUR: If there is one thing that ongoing National Games has proved, it is that all is not well in the world of Indian boxing.
Things seemed like they were finally heading in the right direction when Boxing India was formed, after the demise of the previous body Indian Amateur Boxing Federation (IABF). But a spat between BI and the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) over the former's 'recognition' saw the BI president Sandeep Jajodia issue a directive to all state associations, asking them to boycott the National Games. And in a move which raises serious questions of the legitimacy of the new body, 27 state associations defied the president's order and sent pugilists to the Games.
Only Maharashtra, Assam, Meghalaya, Chandigarh and Pondicherry stayed away from the boxing events while Sikkim and Andaman & Nicobar Islands are not participating in the Games altogether. At the boxing venue in Triprayar, officials of various state associations ramped up the pressure on Jajodia.
Dr Nirmolak Singh, secretary of the Jammu and Kashmir Boxing Association, is also a BI executive council member. But he was scathing in his attack of Jajodia’s diktat to the state associations. “The National Games is the biggest sporting event in the country, so big that usually the prime minister attends the opening ceremony and the president closes it. Anybody who asks athletes not to attend it is acting against national interests. My association decided to participate in the Games because nobody should be allowed to hold boxing to ransom,” he said.
Dr Singh was also of the view that the decision of the states to participate was a severe blow to the legitimacy of Boxing India. “When you send an official letter and 27 states ignore it, the writing is on the wall. That fact alone is enough for Jajodia.”
Manipur’s Khoibi Salam, who was narrowly defeated in the race to become BI treasurer in the elections held in September, was also critical of Jajodia’s action. “It was the wrong thing to do. This is the biggest sporting event in the country and boxers who win medals here will get many financial rewards and employment opportunities. Asking them not to participate is not in their best interests,” Salam told TNIE.
However, Boxing India secretary Jay Kowli expressed doubts over the number of state associations that have defied orders. “There are a lot of dubious officials from various states who are posing as state associations at the Games. For example, I got a call from the Uttar Pradesh association, who were telling me that a couple of breakaway officials had formed a team with some boxers from Haryana and had gone to Thrissur. We will wait till the Games are over,” he said.
Kowli also confirmed that the boxers who are participating in the Games will face sanctions. “That is what our president’s letter has stated. There is a precedent of cricketers participating in the break-way ICL," he said.