Faced with AIBA deadline, boxing officials get down to work

The International Boxing Association (AIBA) has given India time till May 14 to put together a new federation, failing which the country’s boxers could be barred from competing in the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.

SAI director genereal Injeti Srinivas met the representatives from most of the state units.   -  K. Murali Kumar

The threat of an Olympic ban looming over Indian boxers, the administrators today took the first step towards forming a new federation by calling for a stakeholders’ meeting on April 16 to finalise the constitution and date for fresh elections.

The International Boxing Association (AIBA) has given India time till May 14 to put together a new federation, failing which the country’s boxers could be barred from competing in the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.

Only one Indian boxer — Shiva Thapa (56kg) — has so far qualified for the Games. Both the men and women boxers have only one chance each left to make the cut for the August event. Eight Indian boxers — seven men and a woman — had qualified for the previous Olympics.

Election to be in mid-May

The administrators, comprising representatives from most of the state units, today gathered here for a meeting which was also attended by Sports Authority of India (SAI) Director General Injeti Srinivas and IOA officials, including its former President Randhir Singh.

In an animated discussion, the state units were told to apply for fresh membership so that a new body can take shape after the stakeholders’ meeting in Kolkata.

“We certainly want our boxers to compete in the Olympics and that too under the India flag. So in the next meeting, the constitution would be finalised along with the date election,” said the SAI-appointed coordination committee head Asit Banerjee.

The election could be in the mid-May, just before the AIBA deadline expires and will have an observer from the world body to avoid any controversy.

‘IABF could be revived’

India has been without a national federation for a year now after Boxing India was terminated. The buzz is that the IABF could even be revived as Indian Boxing Federation (IBF) to ensure that paperwork related to the registration of a new federation does not take long.

“Reviving the IBF is a viable option because it has already got affiliation from IOA and the Sports Ministry can also immediately start disbursing funds because there won’t be any need for fresh registration,” another official, who attended today’s meeting, said.

Banerjee said one positive result of the meeting was getting the support of IOA, which had been antagonised after Boxing India was formed. The IOA had steadfastly refused to recognize Boxing India till the time it was functioning.

“But they are cooperating now. The IOA is ready to send its observer for the elections. This should save us a lot of hassle,” he said.