Apart from leading Asia, India to host major WB events

Ajay Singh steps down as IBA VP, India to continue competing in IBA events
BFI president Ajay Singh (L) & WB chief Boris van der Vorst
BFI president Ajay Singh (L) & WB chief Boris van der VorstFile

CHENNAI: The World Boxing (WB) had 'positive and fruitful' meetings during the World Olympic Qualifiers in Bangkok last week. Apart from Boxing Federation of India (BFI) agreeing to be part of the WB, the president and his officials had rounds of discussions with federations from different confederations.

As of now, the target for the WB is to garner enough support to get the provisional recognition from the International Olympic Committee (IOC) by the end of this year and for that they are seeking a membership of at least 50 countries. Along with that, they are also trying to host competitions. And India could be one such destination.

Boris van der Vorst, the president of the WB, said as much during a conversation with this daily on Saturday. "We had a very good round of discussions with representatives from the Asia-Oceania, Europe and Africa blocks," he said. "The discussions were positive and I hope things will fall into place fast."

The final Olympic qualifiers were held under the aegis of the IOC and the WB were handed the space to negotiate and hold discussions with various stakeholders. This also indicates that the IOC is lending support to this newly-formed body that came into the picture after the International Boxing Association (IBA) failed to get recognition from the IOC (the CAS upheld it). The sport's Olympic future has been under threat ever since. As of now, the sport is not part of the Olympic Games Los Angeles 2028 and the final call will be taken early next year.

The IOC also was very categorical when the IBA had announced prize money for the Olympic medallists on May 29, that "any boxer whose National Federation adheres to the IBA will not be able to participate in the Olympic Games LA28. The respective NOC will have to exclude such a National Boxing Federation from its membership."

"We are targeting at least 50 members to get the provisional recognition," Boris had said during an interaction last week. Boris also highlighted India's commitment towards the sport and its inclusion in the Olympic programme. BFI president Ajay Singh had said last week that they would remain part of the IBA so that the boxers did not miss the opportunities to participate in competitions. Going by the website of the IBA, Singh is no longer part of the IBA.

The BFI confirmed that he decided to step down as vice president on ethical grounds after joining the WB. However, for the sake of the boxers they still remain with IBA and will continue competing.

The BFI is of the view that WB has no objection to this arrangement since it will help the boxers and will also help promote the sport. Also the IBA, as of now, has no objections. During an interaction after joining the WB, Singh had also spoken about this. He had said that he wanted to strengthen the WB and help get the sport back into the Olympic movement.

The WB president, elaborating on BFI's membership, said the federation will be taking a leadership role in galvanizing the Asian block. The Asian Confederation will have its headquarters in Delhi and BFI is expected to play a big role in mobilizing the Asian block.

"India has shown immense commitment towards helping the sports get into the Olympic programme," he said. He said India will also help other National Sports Federations to see what is good for the sport and show them the right path. He said that apart from building relations, India's other important role would be hosting tournaments. In fact, India, who hosted the 2023 Women's World Championships, has been approached to host more such events. The BFI agreed to the request and is willing to host world-level events. It is understood that the BFI president had assured all support in this regard.

Yet the BFI must tread cautiously. Things are fluid and should leverage the membership. Though the WB had announced a calendar last year, regular competitions are yet to begin and they would be looking for more support. The BFI also needs to get the support of the South Asian Nations first before turning their attention towards others. Like they say, with power comes responsibility.

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