Chief national coach Gurbaksh Singh Sandhu on Friday blamed the incessant warring in Indian boxing as the reason behind India's sad state at the Rio Olympics. From sending an 8-member team to London, India will send a lone warrior in Shiva Thapa after warring factions played havoc on the sport.
Indian boxing looked set for an upward trajectory when India sent seven men and one woman boxer to the London Olympics. The event yielded just one medal eventually with Mary Kom punching above her weight to land a bronze, but it spurred hopes of India budding into a boxing powerhouse in the long term. The hopes, however, were short-lived after the usual problems afflicting Indian sport reared their ugly head—politics and infighting. The Indian Amateur Boxing Federation was suspended in 2012 for rigged elections and the new body, Boxing India, was dissolved in 2014 due to tussle between state units. Even as rival factions tried to topple each other, the Indian boxers, without a national body, were forced to fight under the AIBA's flag, instead of the Indian flag, prompting widespread outrage from athletes including Mary Kom, who asked, “When our flag is not flying high, what is the point of even competing?”.
National boxing coach Gurbaksh Singh Sandhu yesterday rued the damage done to the sport. "When there is infighting inside our own house, it is natural that we will be weak. We had made a lot of progress and other nations used to see as a powerful boxing nation. We won many medals, including at the Olympics and the World Championships," Sandhu told reporters.
The 63-year-old added,"After 2012, we started fighting among ourselves which then led to the suspension of the association. I am sorry to say this but our situation is poorest ever," reported IANS.
"We need to stay united and need to come clear on this. We need to think of our house," he said.
Moves to form a Boxing Federation of India (BFI) were mooted, but that as well has fallen by the wayside reflecting the professional ineptitude of the sport's administrators in the country. Boxers and their coaches, especially from Haryana, in fact protested at Jantar Mantar in New Delhi for two days last week demanding the formation of the federation, but met with little success.
All hopes for the nation will now rest on the slender shoulders of bantamweight boxer Shiva Thapa, who has been the only one to earn a spot at the Rio Olympics.
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