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High time IOA cleaned up boxing mess (Column: Gloves Off)

High time IOA cleaned up boxing mess (Column: Gloves Off)

Boxing is one sport where India can aspire to win a clutch of medals at the upcoming Commonwealth and the Asian Games. Shockingly there is no elected body to govern the sport and things cannot be run in such a cavalier fashion if boxers have to be at their best.

It is over a year since the Indian Amateur Boxing Federation (IABF) has been derecognised by the AIBA international federation and the sport is in the hands of an ad-hoc body set up by the Indian Olympic Association (IOA).

Last month, the sports ministry also derecognised the IABF after its membership was terminated by the AIBA over its repeated failure to conduct a free and fair election.

An ad-hoc body is certainly no answer for an elected national federation and this ad hocism must end sooner than later.

There is also uncertainty about the ad hoc body under veteran Olympic administrator Tarlochan Singh. He and his colleagues know that they are holding the baby only to make sure the boxers did not suffer and to ensure their participation in international events and also oversee the national camps ahead of major international assignments.

Sadly, the the national body is split vertically. Boxing India, a new body headed by former IABF secretary general P. K. Muralidharan Raja has approached AIBA for recognition. Here it must be mentioned that things looked up when he was at the helm of IABF and he is a front-runner when an election is held as he commands the respect of a majority of federation affiliates.

The powerful ruling clique headed by outgoing president Abhay Chautala grabbed power by running roughshod over the electoral college at the annual general meeting in 2012. The entire election was a farce and rightly there were no takers for it. The sports ministry took note of the faulty election process and suspended the newly-elected body in December 2012.

Chautala was ineligible to contest the election under the new government guidelines. The controversial former IOA president naturally did not want to loosen his firm grip over the IABF and came up with an ingenius idea of elevating himself to an exalted position of chairman over and above the president elected in September 2012. He brought in his brother-in-law, Abhishek Matoria, as president to make sure a new president did not challenge him.

Both the AIBA and the sports ministry cried foul the way the entire election was manipulated and there was little choice for the international federation and the ministry except to suspend the new federation.

Chautala, who is facing corruption charges in his home state Haryana, was also elected as the president of the IOA following which the apex body of Indian sports was suspended by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the sports ministry.

The ban lasted 14 months and was lifted in February only after the tainted Chautala and Lalit Bhanot, who has been chargesheeted in the Commonwealth Games scam, stood down from election and handed the reins to N. Ramachandran after a fresh election under the gvernment’s sports code.

While taking charge, Ramachandran knew his first duty would be to sort out the mess in Indian boxing so that the boxers got all the encouragement and push to prepare for the Commonwealth and Asian Games later this year without any hassles.

Indian boxers were barred from taking part in international events last year and to make sure thay they didn’t suffer any more, Ramachandran had appointed the ad-hoc body.

The sooner an elected body is put in place the better it is for the sport and the boxers. No one is willing to wager on an ppropriate date for a clean election so that the real lovers of boxing take over and run it.

(Abhishek Roy is a Principal Correspondent with IANS. The views expressed are personal. He can be contaced at abhsishek.roy @ians.in)

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