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Boxing: Indian boxers in grave danger of being 'banned' from Olympics
by Michael O'Neill
March 1, 2016

(MAR 1)  The Asian Federation Olympic qualifiers for Rio open in Quian’an, China on March 26th but even if boxers like Mary Kom, Sarita Devi Laishram and male counterparts should qualify they are still in danger of being excluded by the AIBA from Rio 2016.

So far not one Indian boxer has qualified but even if they do in due course, Indian boxers are "running the risk" of being barred from this year's Olympic Games if the country fails to put together a new national federation by next month's Asian Olympic Qualifiers, according to ‘The Times of India’ in a Press Release yesterday.

According to their informed sources, the world body (AIBA) ‘will not hesitate to stop Indians from participating in the August extravaganza in Rio de Janeiro should they make the cut through the Asian Qualifiers’ in China.

"There is a lot of pressure on India now to get a federation going. They (AIBA) have given India time till the Asian Qualifiers. In case, it doesn't happen then the country is running the risk of not moving forward," the source said.

"Our boxers who qualify could be stopped from the Olympics," he said.

The Indian team’s last opportunity comes in that event in China but there have been doubts that they can even contest that tournament.

"India's entry for that has been accepted but AIBA has set fresh conditions. They want a National Federation as soon as possible and if India don't get going, it would amount to challenging the world body," the source said.

Indian boxing has been without a permanent National Federation since May last year when Boxing India was suspended following a revolt by the state units, which passed a No Confidence Motion against the then Boxing President Sandeep Jajodia and Secretary General Jay Kowli.

The sport is currently being administered by an Ad-Hoc committee, which was formed by the AIBA itself.

To put an end to the bitter infighting among the state units, the Sports Authority of India and the Ad-Hoc committee recently formed a coordination committee.

The two committees held a meeting with the state units during the recent South Asian Games in Shillong.

"During that meeting the draft of the new constitution was circulated. But the IOA has to get its act together and help the formation of a new federation," the source said.

Vijender Singh (below) (courtesy ZeeNews Sport/Facebook) 

In an unrelated development, Professional boxer and Bollywood heartthrob, Vijender Singh is due to fight his 4th Pro bout in Liverpool on Saturday 12th March against Matthew Horvath of Hungary.

He is certainly keen to compete in the Rio Olympics – as a Pro – if the AIBA’s recent proposals come to fruition in time to allow him an opportunity to qualify.

“If the decision is made official soon, I am definitely going to give my all for the Rio Games. I will go through the process of qualification as being in the Olympic Games is a huge thing,” the boxer told Times of India from London.

Beijing Olympics bronze medallist Vijender, who turned pro last year, said it was a big step taken by world boxing's governing body.

“I feel it is a very big step taken by the AIBA. Losing the chance to participate in the Olympics is the biggest hindrance for any amateur boxer who wants to turn pro.

“I feel more boxers in India will now turn pro, since they will have an option of participating in the Olympic Games and other multi-sport events,” Vijender concluded.

Insofar as his bout against Horvath is concerned it will be his first fight on Merseyside, home of his all-time favourites, the Beatles.

"When I turned professional in England I hoped that I would one day fight in Liverpool and fight at the birthplace of my heroes, now that dream will come true," he said.

"I can't wait to get to Liverpool, I've never fought in the city before as an amateur so now I will get my chance to get down to the Cavern Club finally. Madison Square Garden may be the home of boxing, but for me I have to get to the Cavern Club," he added.

"I admired boxing legends like Ali and Sugar Ray growing up, but they were never really my heroes, The Beatles however were the centre of my life growing up, I wanted to be a rock star. Well I'm rocking opponents in the ring now."

“I’m really excited as this is my first fight of the year and there are big plans ahead so I aim to make a very big statement of intent in Liverpool against Horvath that will show that I’m ready to fight for a title later this year.”

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