Ajay Singh elected president of BFI

Spice Jet co-founder Ajay Singh has been elected as the new president of the Boxing Federation of India while Jay Kowli will be the secretary-general.

Newly elected BFI president Ajay Singh (L) with secretary-general Jay Kowli.   -  Special Arrangement

Uttarakhand’s Ajay Singh was elected as the new president of the Boxing Federation of India (BFI) after polling 49 out of 64 votes cast. Mumbai-based boxing technical official Jay Kowli, will be the secretary-general.

The Indian Olympic Association did not send any representative to oversee the national boxing federation elections, involving 33 states and Union Territories. No reason was given for IOA's absence, despite a request in writing from the world boxing body AIBA, and the International Olympic Committee.

The Ministry of Youth Affairs & Sports deputed Susmita Jyotsi, SAI Director (Kandivali) and AIBA deputed Vice-President Edgar Tanner.

Boxing did not have a national federation since 2012, when the world boxing body removed the Indian Amateur Boxing Federation (IABF) from the list of national federations affiliated, over the issue of malpractices in elections. AIBA formed an ad-hoc body, appointing Kishen Narsi as chairman, to oversee Indian boxing and ensure the boxers' preparation for Rio Olympics

Spice Jet co-founder Singh defeated Rohit Jain (15 votes) in the contest for the president's post. Kowli polled 48 votes to be designated secretary-general, ahead of Lenny D’Gama (12) and Rakesh Thakran (4). Sixty-six votes were supposed to be cast by 33 units (two votes per unit). Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra (one voter each) were absent, according to information available.

Hemanta Kumar Kalita was elected unopposed as treasurer. Amarjit Singh (36 votes) was voted Vice-President (west zone) ahead of Lenny D’Gama (28). Rajesh Bhandari (29 votes) was elected VP (north), ahead of C K Jerath (25).

Newly-elected president Singh said, “I want everyone to work together. Indian boxing should return to the first 10 places again, maybe first five. We need to put bitterness of the past behind, the politics of the past behind and ensure India comes back as a boxing super power.”

The BFI chief announced plans for a boxing league, more competitions for fighters and exposure for coaches and ring officials in AIBA events.

BFI will apply for recognition from the world boxing body as the national federation, informed secretary-general Kowli, adding that Services and Railways will be welcomed back into the system. “We are looking at creating more jobs for boxers in the private sector. Services, Railways and Steel Plants always supported boxing. We value that.”

Kowli was secretary of Boxing India, the previous federation which had to be dissolved after revolt by state units. The Mumbai-based official and administrator returns to centrestage in BFI. AIBA ad-hoc committee chairman, Narsi, expressed relief at handing over the baton to the newly-elected officials. Eight Vice-Presidents and eight Zonal Secretaries were also named by BFI.