Association Internationale de boxe amateur (AIBA), the apex body of the Olympic boxing in the world, has granted full membership and withdrawn the ban order on the newly-formed Boxing Federation of India (BFI), in a recently concluded executive meeting at Montreux, Switzerland. The Indian federation was thrilled with the announcement, but what made AIBA impose a total ban on the activities of the Indian boxing is worth studying.
The then Indian Amateur Boxing Federation (IABF), one of the oldest federations of the country, was never controlled by politicians till early 2001. But in the same year, a politician managed to sneak in as the president with an ulterior motive of capturing a key position in the Indian Olympic Association, of which IABF was an affiliated member. The new president changed the rules and regulations without looking at the impact and slowly but steadily anarchy started settling in the IABF functioning. Favoritism, nepotism and all such undesirable practices were rampant in the day-to-day functioning of the boxing federation. The members started grumbling but could not protest due to all powerful political leadership on the chair.
The AIBA Governing Body headed by Dr Ching–Kuo Wu of Taiwan came into power, defeating long time AIBA President Prof Anwar Choudhary of Pakistan in 2006 with a promise to clean the world of boxing from dirt. Indian boxing used to have a say in world boxing and were well respected for their competent officials who officiated with authority in various Olympics, Commonwealth Games and other international events. But with power getting transferred into the hands of politicians, India slowly lost the importance that they had in the world boxing arena.
Few incidents involving Indian officials had further tarnished the image of Indian boxing. At this juncture, the AIBA received a number of complaints from Indian officials on account of irregularities and misdoing of IABF which resulted in the suspension of IABF in 2012 and AIBA subsequently asked the Indian Boxing Federation to hold a fresh election. A fresh election, which was conducted dubiously, paved the way for another politician to come in as its president which, however, was not accepted by the world body and the IABF continued to be under suspension.
There were efforts to hold further election and a new entity in the name of Boxing India was formed but a showdown between the Secretary General and the president elected brought further grief to the Indian boxing, as AIBA, having gone through the election proceedings and various complaints that they had received from various quarters, banned the Indian boxing federation sine die. Thus, Indian boxing remained so suspended/banned till 20 December 2016, when the AIBA executive body lifted the ban and granted full membership to the newly formed Indian Boxing Federation, under the stewardship of Ajay Singh after fully satisfying them on the genuineness of its election.
During the period of four years between 2012-2016, the sport suffered along with the honour and prestige of the country. Though the boxers were allowed to participate in international events, the Indian flag was not allowed to fly in boxing arena. The boxers were not allowed to represent their country, but were to participate under the AIBA banner only. No Indian representative of boxing was permitted to attend any meeting at AIBA or continental level. The Indian ring officials were barred from officiating at any boxing event under the banner of AIBA as referee, Judge or Jury.
Boxing being a subjective sport, representation at the ring official level makes lots of difference to the sportsperson and their performance, which the Indian boxers lost for the period of four years. Consequently at the home front, the federation lost the government recognition and grant for holding the National Championships of various categories. The Indian Olympic Association also derecognised the boxing federation and formed an ad-hoc committee, which however remained non-functional.
However, since the issue has now been settled, India will hope that the new federation will show great zeal and enthusiasm for future international boxing events, especially the Asian Games in 2018 and the Tokyo Olympics in 2020, in order to reap a rich harvest of medals.
Updated Date: Dec 22, 2016 10:23:44 IST