Indian boxers for Baku Oly qualifiers feel KO punch already

This is the last chance for the Indian boxers including L Devendro Singh and Sumit Sangwan to secure an Olympic berth.

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The nine-member Indian boxing team currently in Baku, Azerbaijan, for the AIBA World Olympic qualifiers has once again been left to their own to fight not just the opponents but the official bias in order to win any Olympic quota berth for the Rio Games.

This is the last chance for the Indian boxers including L Devendro Singh and Sumit Sangwan to secure an Olympic berth. Only Shiva Thapa has, so far, qualified for Rio while Vikas Krishan would have another chance to make the cut from the APB final qualifier for the pro boxers in Venezuela next month, in case if he fails to qualify from the Baku tournament, to be held from June 16 to 25.

It's no secret that the Indian boxers have been at the receiving end of the international championships due to the suspension of the boxing body – first Indian Amateur Boxing Federation (IABF) in December 2012 and then Boxing India (BI) last September. In the absence of any federation member or a team manager, Indian boxers have found it difficult to challenge any decision of the judges or to reach out to the AIBA officials. Also, the suspension of the federation has resulted in no India referee or judge at the AIBA tournaments including the Rio qualifiers.

According to the Indian boxers who have been working hard for Rio qualification, they had been declared losers in the previous qualifying tournaments even if they seemed to be the clear winners. Reason: the judges and the event organisers are not taking them seriously as they are participating under the AIBA's flag.

Krishan was one of the boxers who had raised this concern when he said that "no one in the international amateur circuit takes us seriously because we are not representing India. We are losing the bouts which we should have won".

So, in a desperate attempt to see more India male boxers qualify for the Rio Games, chief national coach Gurbax Singh Sandhu approached the sports ministry before leaving for Baku with a request to send ad-hoc committee chief and India's representative in AIBA, Kishen Narsi, for the final qualifiers.

Sandhu's view was that Narsi commands a lot of respect among the AIBA officials and is being considered the most influential Indian official in sport's world governing body. He is also known to be very close to AIBA chief Ching-Kuo Wu. His presence would have made a lot of difference for the Indian boxers.

However, Narsi failed to accompany the team at the last moment due to prior personal commitment. This has left Indian contingent without any experienced official who can take up their cause in case of any conflict.

dna has learnt that it was after coach Sandhu request that sports ministry specially cleared the name of Narsi to go with the team for the Baku event. Sports Authority of India's Director General Injeti Srinivas sanctioned Rs 2.5 lakh for this purpose.

"Due to some prior personal commitment, which is not social, I was unable to go with the team. I'm thankful to the government for clearing my trip with the boys. However, our chief coach is there with the team and we're hoping that India get more quota place for Rio in next few days," Narsi told dna on Wednesday.

Indian team for Baku: L. Devendro (49 kg) Gaurav Bidhuri (52 kg), Dheeraj Rangi (60 kg), Manoj Kumar (64 kg), Mandeep Jangra (69 kg), Vikas Krishan (75 kg), Sumit Sangwan (81 kg), Amritpreet Singh (91 kg), Satish Kumar (plus-91 kg).

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