A sucker punch
Indian pugilists have never been more determined than now. Improving upon the two bronze medals won at London is the avowed dream of the hopefuls as they take to the rings at Rio Olympics. Alas, for all their promises, it seems like they remain non-entities in the eyes of the authorities, whose sucker punches have been more devastating than any of Vijender Singh’s fiery blows that have kayoed many
Indian pugilists have never been more determined than now. Improving upon the two bronze medals won at London is the avowed dream of the hopefuls as they take to the rings at Rio Olympics. Alas, for all their promises, it seems like they remain non-entities in the eyes of the authorities, whose sucker punches have been more devastating than any of Vijender Singh’s fiery blows that have kayoed many an opponent, including four since turning a professional.
It is a tragedy of our times that despite the loads of talent that India boasts of, they have been left to fend for themselves. One cannot blame the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) for the mess Indian boxing has landed up in. If anything, the boxers have become victims of ego clashes between ambitious men, who rather than steer the Federation, are more concerned about making hay.
There is something terribly amiss at the administrative level, which could impact the prospects of the 13 boxers who have left for the Asian Qualifiers in the Chinese province of Qian’an City. They don’t enjoy official patronage as the International Boxing Association (AIBA) has not recognised the faction that has usurped power. It makes no difference to them that MC Mary Kom, Shiva Thapa, Sarita Devi, L Devendro Singh, Mandeep Jangra, Vikas Krishan and Manoj Kumar are proven medal contenders.
Devoid of any Federation support and gearing up for the bigger challenges of their own, the chances of this unfortunate tribe are anything but rosy. Thapa has become wiser with experience. Rather than cry foul, which he knows will fall on deaf ears, he has been sending the right signals to fellow teammates by urging them to forget about the difficulties and stay focussed on what one actually can do.
The road is tough considering that no Indian boxer has a booked a Rio berth. One fails to understand why the government is remaining a mute spectator to the bizarre goings-on even as the fact also remains that apart from shooters, wrestlers and the shuttlers, Indian hopes of podium finishes rest largely on the pugilists.
The government help may not be forthcoming, though the extravaganza is just months away but the boxers remain high on hope and their quest to earn Olympic glory. Blessed are the sportspersons from trouble-torn nations that the IOC provides for a common flag so that their dreams don’t lie shattered. It is likewise for the boxers who will compete under the AIBA flag.
To make matters worse, the ad-hoc body that is supposedly governing the sport is both rudderless and powerless. Mary Kom has nailed it right while blasting the administrative logjam and accusing it of sending wrong signals to the boxers who are losing motivation to train.
Unfortunately, the Indian psyche is so disastrously woven that once they return from Rio with a medal or two, the government of the day will go over the moon in their praises. And perhaps gift handsome cash rewards. The Sports Minister and IOA will shamelessly take credit for the ‘spectacular achievements.’ This is precisely what ails Indian sport.