Ajay Singh re-elected president of Boxing Federation of India, says Asian Championship to be held in April or May

Singh, also the chairman of Spicejet airlines, prevailed 37-27 in the elections held at a Gurugram hotel for a fresh four-year term. He will have a new secretary-general by his side in Assam's Hemanta Kumar Kalita.

Press Trust of India February 03, 2021 20:10:05 IST
Ajay Singh re-elected president of Boxing Federation of India, says Asian Championship to be held in April or May

Representative Image courtesy: ©FOTOPRESS/Ross Land.

Incumbent Ajay Singh was on Wednesday re-elected President of the Boxing Federation of India, comfortably defeating challenger Ashish Shelar in the polls which had an International Boxing Association (AIBA) observer in attendance.

Singh, also the chairman of Spicejet airlines, prevailed 37-27 in the elections held at a Gurugram hotel for a fresh four-year term. He will have a new secretary-general by his side in Assam's Hemanta Kumar Kalita.

Kalita would be succeeding Maharashtra's Jay Kowli, who had decided against contesting for the post after extending his support to Shelar ahead of the elections.

"I don't want to comment on the margin, I am happy that the BFI has reposed faith in me. I hope to live up to the expectations and take boxing forward," Singh said in a press conference after being elected.

"It is great credit to all of us that this election was conducted so peacefully and professionally. We are one family, we will work towards glory of our sport. Let there

be no heartburn, it is everyone's right to fight the election," he added, acknowledging his rival.

Shelar is a BJP MLA from Maharashtra and was a former President of the Mumbai Cricket Association.

Singh said his priority would be to focus on development of women's boxing and ensure presence of more women in the support staff as well.

"We will try to ensure greater participation of women in both administration and support staff," said Singh, who will have Goa's Danushka D'Gama as a joint secretary in his team.

An AIBA observer — Yury Zaytsev — was also present to oversee the proceedings along with observers from the sports ministry and the Indian Olympic Association (IOA).

"This is an important year because Olympics are coming up in July. We have a record nine boxers who have already qualified. We expect some more to make it in the world qualifiers in June," Singh said.

The elections were originally scheduled for September last year but were postponed twice citing the COVID-19 pandemic.

The matter reached the Delhi High Court last month thanks to a petition filed by the Uttar Pradesh state boxing association.

The BFI eventually set February 3 for the elections and its sixth Annual General Meeting.

Singh was first elected to office in 2016 in an election that also had an AIBA observer in attendance.

"We need to make sure that we win more Olympic medals to encourage kids to take up the sport. We need to create an ecosystem. Boxing is an aspirational sport and people from villages and smaller towns are hungry to succeed.

"We want to give them enough opportunities," Singh said, talking about his plans going forward.

Asian boxing championships to take place in April or May

The postponed Asian Boxing Championship, which India is scheduled to host, will be organised in either April or May this year, Boxing Federation of India President Ajay Singh revealed on Wednesday after being re-elected to the post at the body's Annual General Meeting.

The championship was to be originally held in November-December last year but was postponed owing to the disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

"The Asian Championship will either be held in April or May," Singh said in a press conference after the AGM at a Gurugram hotel.

India last hosted the men's Asian meet back in 1980 in Mumbai before conducting the women's event in 2003 in Hisar. The tournament became a combined event for men and women last year.

The COVID-19 pandemic threw sporting calendars haywire around the world with several big events, including the Olympics and the T20 World Cup of cricket, postponed.

Asked whether the national championships would be held after the pandemic did not allow the event to go ahead in 2020, Singh said, "It is work in progress."

So far, nine Indian boxers — five men and four women — have qualified for the Tokyo Olympics and Singh said they will get enough exposure to ensure their preparations remain on track.

"They trained in Italy last year for two months and then they will also compete in the world qualifiers in June. There will be no shortage of competition for them," Singh said.

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