Survival of the fittest: the irony
Well it is no secret that India has been partial in terms of its sanction with sports! By sanctions, it is obvious that the lack of finances leads to the lack of equipments and the right machinery required to take any sport forward. Well, as Indians there is no shame in accepting that we are obsessed with stars! It is hence, a sport like archery, shooting, wrestling or boxing only becomes a sport when someone emerges victorious at a big event. Well gladly it also leads to many more following their path but sadly only after there’s one whos emerged on the top. Names such as Mary Kom or Vijender Singh could have been stars earlier in their days of struggle but the hypocrisy of us as a country is the fact that these stories only become a tale when there is the possibility to sell it.
Boxing as a sport in India is already suffering. In such a situation of crisis, things were only worsened when the Indian officials of boxing made a public announcement on Tuesday stating that there would a new constitution set up forming a new national body. To add to that, it has also been stated that this new body will be set up to ensure that pugilists do not suffer. This decision came into existence after the Indian Armature Boxing Federation, also known as the IABF was de-recognised by the International Boxing Association (AIBA). This has now lead to the sport being controlled and maintained by the ad-hoc body set up by the Indian Olympic
Coordination board member, Asit Banerjee spoke to the media regarding the hand over stating that, “We have placed our draft constitution for the national federation. All state units has been asked to send their observations to the adhoc committee at the earliest.” He further added that, “Once we
receive their observations and recommendations we will then forward the same to AIBA (world body) for further ratification. We do not want our boxers to suffer because of us. We wanted to resolve this issue before the Rio Olympics.”
The co-ordination board meeting, which was held just recently, was attended by members of the AIBA’s ad-hoc committee for India. AIBA executive committee vice-chairman Kishen Narsi and convenor of the AIBA’s ad-hoc committee for Indian boxing Jay Kowli, strictly asked the state units to send their observations on the circulated draft constitution within seven days and present their reservations if any about the same before the final decision could be implemented. The AIBA’s co-ordination board meeting were had representatives of 18 state units including Manipur, Bengal, Odisha, Haryana, Puducherry, Tamil Nadu, Uttarakhand, Assam and Meghalaya to discuss the formation of a new national boxing body.
The problems regarding the ‘delay in payment’ has already begun immediately after the new adhoc committee received its appointment letter. There was already highly voltage drama prior to the 12th South Asian games as the boxers complained about not being paid.
They spoke to the media stating that there has always been a lack in funds as the boxers do not get their due share. To add to the poor payment now the situations are such that the payments aren’t coming in at all. The argument was not only limited to the boxers and the board but also the officials and the board had their share of the chaos. The bouts were delayed by about 40 minutes after the officials too complained to begin the proceedings of the match as they hadn’t been compensated with their due allowances in the longest time.
To add to that, the board members too complained denying all allegations stating that these were tactics in use because the officials were trying to blackmail the board in order to increase their existing pay structure that too by a large margin. Things went from bad to worse as on the last day of the game, officials, referees and others in a group of 14 refused to come in on the day of the game citing reasons which go by ‘payment issues’. Rakesh Gupta, the joint secretary of the Indian Olympic Association who was present during the games was witness to fanatic calls of ‘Settle the money’ throughout the proceedings of the day which was a mark of a big insult to the board in general.
The board was so ashamed of the situation that it had to make an excuse to the fans on the day stating that the delay in the start of the games was because the VVIP’s hadn’t arrived at the venue yet. The announcer kept apologising for the delay stating that, “We apologise the delay. We are expecting the CM and other VVIPs so is the delay. It should start by 11.45.” This was the announcement made time and again as the original time for the games to start were at 11 and the crowd was not only anxious but also getting impatient because of the 45 minute delay.
The constant lack in compensation has been a cause of de motivation to the entire boxing community. Ace boxer, M C Mary Kom spoke to the media addressing the issue stating that, “Yes, they are all de motivated. There’s no competition, so it’s very frustrating. Whatever effort they’re putting is of no use. They’re being patient enough but the future is dark for them without any competition. If there’s no National Championship, we won’t have any new boxers that means no hope for future. Future will be dark,” Kom, further added that, “For seniors at least this South Asian Games have come up and the qualification is coming up. That’s why we’re trying hard. Or else it will just be reduced to ‘time-pass’.”
Mary Kom was extremely candid in her opinions, she also spoke about her outlook about the whole situation and if she felt that there was a possibility that the sport would die to which she replied saying, “It won’t die but they’re suffering. They will not go immediately change their game. Every athlete will be happy if the family is in order.” She further added that she wasn’t upset with how boxing wasn’t being promoted as most other sports in India. She stated that, “Its not my problem, I’m doing my duty to qualify for Olympics. Not getting exposure is not my problem.”