National Boxing Championships: Ladakh enters new era, makes debut

Saliem Malik makes history by becoming the first boxer from Ladakh to represent the union territory in the National Boxing Championships.

Boxers and support staff of BFI-Ladakh at the National boxing championships in Baddi. Photo: Special Arrangement

Saliem Malik might have lost his 63kg first round to Jharkhand’s Ravi Soy, but he was proud to have made history by becoming the first boxer from Ladakh to represent the union territory at the National boxing championships here on Friday.

Following the Union Government’s decision to dilute Article 370 and bifurcate Jammu and Kashmir into two UTs, boxing enthusiasts in Ladakh swung into action to put in place the Ladakh Amateur Boxing Association (LABA).

However, completing the formalities to be an affiliated unit of the Boxing Federation of India (BFI) was not possible in a short period. The LABA officials tried their best and were rewarded when the federation allowed them to field their boxers under the name BFI-Ladakh. “It doesn’t matter whether we have affiliation. The biggest satisfaction is our boxers are getting to represent Ladakh. This will spur the growth of the sport in the UT,” LABA secretary Tenzing Chogyal told Sportstar.

Dream come true

It was a dream come true for Chogyal, a National level referee and judge from Arunachal Pradesh, and head coach Ghulam Mustafa. “I was born and brought up in Arunachal, but I always had this desire of seeing the place of my origin, Ladakh, shine. I and Mustafa had been waiting for this for 10 years. Perhaps, this is the first time Ladakh is competing as a unit in any sport at the National level,” Chogyal said.

The Ladakh team has fielded five boxers in 49kg, 57kg, 60kg, 63kg and 69kg weights. Three of them are students, one works part-time in a bank and another is a tourist guide. “Till now, boxing was a casual sport. Now, we have to work seriously and inculcate a lot of discipline. For us, everybody — from the president of the association to the boxers — everybody’s involvement is necessary and each one should know how we run our sport.

“If we work with a lot of determination, we can make a mark,” said Chogyal.