Light welterweight boxer Manoj Kumar has appealed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to clean up the administrative mess in Indian boxing. The 29-year-old, who bowed out in the pre-quarters at Rio, also believes that he would have won a medal for the country if there was a boxing federation.
After winning one medal each at the 2008 and the 2012 Olympics, India’s boxing contingent returned empty-handed from Rio with only one boxer making it to the quarters. With the boxing federation of the country tottering amidst an administrative turmoil for the past few years, only three boxers managed to make the cut for Rio and among them World Championship bronze medallist Shiva Thapa was considered as a medal prospect. But, the 22-year-old bowed out in the first round of the 56kg category to eventual champion Robeisy Ramírez of Cuba, while Manoj Kumar exited in the pre-quarters of the 64kg category after losing to eventual champion Fazliddin Gaibnazarov of Uzbekistan. Vikas Krishan also looked good for a medal till his defeat in his quarter-final bout against Bektemir Melikuziev, who went on to win the silver medal.
After returning from Rio, Manoj Kumar, who competed in the 64kg category, told PTI in an interview that he would have won a medal for the country if the federation was not suspended from the AIBA.
I am sure that I would have won a medal if India was not suspended from the International Boxing Association."
"I am sure that I would have won a medal if India was not suspended from the International Boxing Association (AIBA). Had the first round in that pre-quarterfinal bout gone in my favour, the result would have been different," Manoj told PTI in an interview.
"I think I should have got that first round against Gaibnazarov, that would have changed the complexion of the overall result," he said.
The boxer from Haryana also called for an intervention from Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the administrative mess infecting Indian boxing presently and said that he got no support from the officials before he qualified for the Games.
"I never got the support that some others got. I have had to face so much in trying to just qualify. Nobody backed me, and by that I mean nobody. I was never considered a prospect, never given any financial support to prepare. I did everything on my own merit and the support of my elder brother Rajesh," he said.
"Boxing is dying because of all that has happened in the last four years. I want to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi to plead with him to intervene," Manoj said.
Indian boxing has been in an administrative turmoil since 2012 after the Indian Amateur Boxing Federation was terminated for manipulating elections. Although a new body called Boxing India came to govern the sport in the country, a rift between state units forced AIBA to dissolve the federation in 2014. The World boxing body has also warned the Indian officials of stern action if elections for the new body are not held by 25 September.
What's even worse is that while I was there competing in Rio, my family was being harassed by neighbours here."
"There has been no National Championship. Where is the next batch of
"I am not saying I am the most talented but I am hard-working. I know I gave it my all in Rio, I fought as hard as I could but there is only so much you can do without any support," he said.
"What's even worse is that while I was there competing in Rio, my family was being harassed by neighbours here. Somebody tried to disconnect the power supply to our house so that my family could not watch me compete. How do you fight such pettiness?" he asked, reported PTI.