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Six-time world champion boxer Mary Kom has recently joined national camp and begun training for the final phase of comeback ahead of the 2021 Tokyo Olympic Games. A seasoned campaigner, who has been part of the Indian team and have seen the progression of the sport for close to two decades now, spoke about progress of Indian boxing and credited Boxing Federation of India’s (BFI) President Ajay Singh for Indian boxers’ unmatched performances at the global stage in the recent years.

“Ajay Singh has stood by all the players, their needs and requirements. In my long stint in boxing, he probably is the only administrator who has whole heartedly only thought good for Indian boxing and the boxers, right from the juniors to the elites. Support like that gets the best out of the players and you can see that from the remarkable performances boxers have produced in the last four year,” Mary Kom said on the sidelines of her training.

With consistent opportunities for boxers to excel in the sport in the last four years, including participation in highest-ever 80 international tournaments and exposure trips, the Indian team has seen rising in the Top-10 in the world ranking and also ranked third in Asia.
Talking about never-seen-before exposure for boxers in the last four years, the Olympic bronze medallist further complimented Ajay Singh’s leadership and efforts he has put while raising standards of Indian boxing with all possible facilities for the players.

“Earlier a top player like me also had to struggle in the red tapes of the federation but since BFI came into existence, Ajay Singh personally ensured best coaching and support staff and initiated year-long camps for players. And results of the efforts he put in are here for all of us to see. Today we have developed a strong bench strength with more than 4 to 5 world-class boxers in each weight category,” the 38-year-old said.

“Today if Indian boxing is doing well globally, I feel it is because of the efforts have been put to raise the standards of our players and our domestic facilities. I personally believe Ajay Singh has done a great job. And for India to be the best boxing nation in the world, he should continue as the President of the federation,” Mary Kom added.

On being asked how everyone takes her name when they want to associate with boxing, veteran boxer was quick to respond, “people are taking my name for their personal benefits and gains which is sad.”

Boxing Federation of India presidential contender Ashish Shelar.

Former Maharashtra sports minister and Boxing Federation of India presidential contender Ashish Shelar on Thursday expressed his confidence about winning the BFI elections on February 3.

At a media interaction in New Delhi on Thursday, Shelar revealed that he and his team had met virtually every state unit in the run-up to the elections and “have noted their dissatisfaction and anger”.

“We are going to win the BFI elections by garnering over 70 per cent of the votes,” Shelar, a BJP leader, declared in response to a specific question. “I have personally interacted with almost every state unit and have learnt that the current dispensation in BFI under Mr Ajay Singh had made many promises before coming to power but has delivered very little,” he added, just before filing his nomination papers for the president’s post.

“The federation itself has been run in an autocratic manner, with the state units being completely ignored, which has been a huge setback for Indian boxing at the grassroots level. The financial situation of the BFI is also very delicate due to gross mismanagement and lack of vision which requires urgent attention,” he said.

Shelar, who has held many top positions in sport, including as president of Maharashtra Cricket Association and Mumbai District Football Association, charged that “Ajay Singh and his men were desperately trying to cling to power, even rigging the Electoral College list through the Returning Officer”.

“The Delhi High Court had ruled that only the President or Secretary can finalise the voters’ list. Despite that, the RO has taken decisions on at least three states without having any power to do so, which are, as you can imagine, detrimental to us,” he revealed.

BFI secretary-general Jay Kowli said that he was most unhappy with the way the BFI had been functioning. “It was being run out of the Spicejet office in Gurugram in a dictatorial manner. None of us were ever taken into confidence and nothing has been done to promote and nurture boxing at the grassroots level.

“I had been voicing my dissent against all this but without any effect. I am convinced that another spell by this team can ruin boxing. Something as basic as holding junior level national tournaments has not been done in the last four years. That is why I decided to support somebody who has the welfare of the sport and the boxers in his heart,” Kowli said.

“So many sports federations, even Bihar polls for the Assembly, were held despite the pandemic. But Ajay Singh postponed the BFI polls at the last moment as he realised that he would lose. Sadly for him, we are even better prepared now,” he said.

However, one BFI member slammed Shelar and Kowli’s claims, saying the federation under Ajay Singh has been doing “great work” in grass root level as well. “Junior nationals men and women held in 2017, 2018, 2019 and the young boxers were/are so happy with this new concept. We have done a lot on the grass root level as well. Anybody can check the records for that. It is on papers. For power, people are lying and they themselves are getting exposed. We have all the records with us to prove it,” he said.

The recent administration “mess” has also left some Indian boxers worried. “Olympic is this year and now a power tussle or election drama is on. We faced a lot in the past because of administration mess . We just wish all this settle soon so that we can focus more on the game rather than on this drama,” they told DLP on condition of anonymity.

As many as nine Indian pugilists will be seen at the Olympics later this year after starring performances in the Asian boxing Olympic qualifiers in Amman last year.

While focussing on sharpening their skills during a 52-day exposure trip, away from home Indian men and women boxing team celebrated Diwali alongside coaches and support staff in Assisi, Italy.

The 27-member Indian contingent, which has been training in a bio-secure environment in Italy since last month, celebrated the festival of lights in a traditional way and also had Indian cuisine.

“Everybody loves to be with family during festival time but Indian team is also our family and we had a lot of fun today. We had Indian style food cooked for us on this special occasion like poori, kheer and everything which gave us little to miss home,” World Championship silver medallist boxer Amit Panghal said.

Adding to Panghal, Asian Games bronze medallist Pooja Rani said: “It was a wonderful celebration especially during these tough COVID times. Everyone enjoyed the celebration and as we have been training here in a bio-secure environment things like these make us more positive and happy. The focus will now again on training as we want to make the most of this opportunity.”

Indian boxer Amit Panghal

विश्व चैम्पियनशिप के रजत पदक विजेता अमित पंघाल (52 किलो) और संजीत (91 किलो) ने कोरोना वायरस महामारी के बाद पहली प्रतियोगिता में स्वर्ण पदक हासिल किया। दोनों खिलाड़ी फ्रांस के नांतेस में हो रहे अलेक्सिस वेस्टाइन अंतरराष्ट्रीय मुक्केबाजी टूर्नामेंट में शीर्ष रहे।

एशियाई खेल चैंपियन और राष्ट्रमंडल खेल रजत पदक विजेता अमित ने अमेरिका के रेने अब्राहम को शुक्रवार की रात हुए मुकाबले में 3-0 से हराया। इंडिया ओपन स्वर्ण पदक विजेता संजीत ने फ्रांस के सोहेब बूफिया को मात दी।

भारत के लिए स्वर्ण जीतने के बाद अमित पंघाल ने डीएलपी से बातचीत करते हुए अपनी खुशी जाहिर की। साथ ही उन्होंने अपना यह पदक अपने कोच अनिल धनकर को समर्पित किया।
अमित ने कहा कि वह चाहते हैं कि अनिल धनकर उनके साथ ओलंपिक तक रहे। अपनी नाराजगी जाहिर करते हुए बताया कि अमित ने बॉक्सिंग फेडरेशन ऑफ इंडिया से पिछले दिसंबर को अनुरोध किया था कि उनके कोच अनिल धनकर को उनके साथ रहने की अनुमति दी जाए।

किंतु अभी तक उनकी बात पर कोई सुनवाई नहीं हुई है। अमित ने कहा कि वह आज जो कुछ भी हैं वे अपने कोच अनिल धनकर की बदौलत है। अमित ने आशा जताई है कि स्पोर्ट्स अथॉरिटी ऑफ इंडिया उनकी कही हुई बात पर संज्ञान लेगी और कैंप में उनके कोच अनिल धनकर को भी अनुमति दी जाए।

बहरहाल, रजत पदक विजेता आशीष कुमार ने 75 किलोवर्ग में स्वर्ण पदक जीता जब उनके प्रतिद्वंद्वी अमेरिका के जोसेफ जेरोम हिक्स चोट के कारण फाइनल नहीं खेल सके। एशियाई रजत पदक विजेता कविंदर बिष्ट (57 किलो) को रजत पदक से ही संतोष करना पड़ा जो सैमुअल के से 2-1 से हार गए।