CHENNAI: It’s just over a week since secretary of Boxing India, Jay Kowli, stepped down, but the wound is still fresh and what’s worse…‘hurts’. Because it’s been caused by the man he stood by. Allegations of forgery have been leveled against him and he is not amused. A man of integrity, Kowli has vowed to get himself in the clear. “I have done nothing wrong,” he says. In an exclusive interview to the Express, he bares it all. Excerpts...
How was your short but controversial tenure?
Our biggest challenge was to get India on the international stage. When we won the election our main objective was to lift the ban imposed on Indian boxing by the world body (AIBA). And we managed it. I cannot and will not claim I did it. Everybody worked towards it.
Another challenge was to make boxing India’s premier sport. After assuming office, our main task was to bring the community abreast with international boxing, that has undergone a huge change. I also realized it would take a year or two to put things in order. I thought of introducing a new kind of boxing administration that was closer to the best international practices. I started communicating with my community; tried to follow an inclusive agenda and educate my fraternity. So I prepared a circular where there were questionnaires to improve Indian boxing, mainly selection process, India’s preparation for Rio, coaches enhancement etc. Another big achievement for us was the introduction of a selection commission, headed by Capt Gopal Devang and Capt Padam Bahadur Mall.
Where did you go wrong?
I was always trying to tell my president that we need to hold the Special General Meeting as desired by the members. I always told him that if we need to put boxing back on track we have to work together. He weighed legality more than the ground reality. Constitution and law are guidelines. If we don’t work together then these guidelines don’t work.
When did you realise things were falling apart?
Handling the National Games issue was a major breaking point. By then, I was with them (the president and his advisors). I was even ready to take legal course or file a writ to persuade or get Indian Olympic Association to recognise BI. Till then, I always backed my president. Nevertheless, I told him however right we were, we have to talk to the fraternity. He might have been inexperienced in the federation’s ways, so I don’t blame him but then I kept reminding him to talk to the community. He, however, thought I was working against his wishes. He started blaming me for everything.
What about allegations of forging?
Forging is a different ball game. What I did was no different from what most of the federations do. I used his digital signature for an official document. There was no malice intended at all. The Asian Confederation had sent an Election Notice wherein India had a vice president in its EC. But it did not reach me because it was wrongly marked. I got a call from an Asian Confederation official asking me whether India was not interested in filing a nomination just a day or two ahead of the last date. The election was on March 12 so I spoke with the president and even SMS-ed him to follow up. He was to come back to me with further directions. So after waiting long — in order to save India’s participation — at the last moment I put his name as candidate and my name as a voting delegate and sent the letter with his digital signature — which was duly copied to him. On the day of the meeting, I did not go. He sent Mr Udit Seth and one of Udit’s employees. The president lost because this duo had no clue as to what to do. Maybe to hide this blunder he is diverting attention and blaming me.
Even in the case of the minutes of the Nagpur Executive Committee Meeting, I sent him the draft minutes on March 1 and then reminded him on March 10 for approval and then again on March 16 I circulated them to all. Now if he wants to call the minutes invalid, the same guidelines have been used in his letter to call the SGM in Delhi, for the no-confidence motion against BI president and secretary, illegal!
Right now I have stepped aside as I don’t want to work in unstable situations. May be if things are stable, I will consider coming back. I am interested in boxing only, not control politics.
Has AIBA contacted you?
Without being unfair to the president, for all that he has contributed, I gave AIBA the picture that I see today. But the way things are, it won’t be easy for BI. However, my only concern is India’s boxers and their way ahead.