CHENNAI: Here's an experiment. Open chrome, type ‘India boxing mess’ and watch Google throw up 4,63,00 hits in 0.54 seconds. A few hits may not actually be hits but the first few headlines reveal a snapshot into the kind of state boxing is currently facing in India. “Indian boxer Manoj Kumar appeals for PM Narendra Modi’s intervention in boxing mess,” one headline says. Another adds: “Abhinav Bindra appeals to AIBA to fix Indian boxing mess”. A third is a plea from a very important member of the Indian boxing fraternity. “Vijender Singh worried about Indian boxing mess.”
It’s this mess that disturbed Ajay Singh. He wanted to do something about it and the first step in his grand plan of action was completed on Sunday when he was elected as president of Boxing Federation of India (BFI). The sport has been a poisoned chalice in India recently – medals won at international events were quickly followed by bickering between state units and administrators.
Singh, who does have a history of reviving seemingly dead establishments (he is widely credited with turning around SpiceJet’s fortunes), hopes to end that particular narrative. “My perspective on how boxing or any other sport should be run is pretty clear,” he told Express. “The administrators should not be the focus. The focus should be on sportspersons and the sport itself. India has been one of the best in boxing before and the long term goal should be to bring it back to that level.”
Those read like grandiose statements from a man bent on making a good first impression but he’s already off to a good start. “The International Boxing Federation (AIBA) had sent in an observer (Oceania vice president Edgar Tanner) and he was pretty happy with the conduct of the elections. His remarks, I believe, were ‘it (elections) was clean’.” The affiliation to AIBA and the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) seem only a matter of time and Singh, the man behind ‘abki baar, Modi sarkar’, says he can bring on board his experiences with SpiceJet. “When I went back to it, I felt it was worth reviving... the passion in the people who were associated with it was very real. And boxing is pretty much like that. People want to see boxing in India back in the top and that’s what my job will be.” The first few months will offer a glimpse into whether he can deliver it. firstname.lastname@example.org