Boxers belonging to the Services Sports Control Board (SSCB) must be feeling helpless as the International Boxing Association (AIBA) has made public the draws of its Olympic qualification event for professional boxers, starting in Vargas, Venezuela, from Monday.
The AIBA, which allowed all professional boxers last month to take part in the Olympics, slotted the event to provide a route to the pros from its own events (such as AIBA Pro Boxing and World Series of Boxing) and those competing in non-AIBA competitions to qualify for the Olympics.
>READ: Three Indians boxers in fray for Rio berths
The event — which will offer three quota places in each category except 91kg and +91kg, from which only the gold medallists will bag Olympic spots — has received lukewarm response with 79 boxers making it to the draws for 26 quota places in 10 weight divisions. Two weights feature only six boxers, while six of them have seven each. Only two weights, 81kg (13) and +91kg (10), have invited pugilists in double digits.
In contrast, the AIBA received huge response in previous qualification events including the continental competitions. For example, the Asia-Oceania event had 226 boxers for 36 quota places. Likewise, Africa (181/33), America (180/30), Europe (263/36) and the World qualifying event (375/39) were also crowded tournaments.
The men and women’s World championships, which also served as qualifying events, expectedly witnessed bigger participation.
Since the Venezuela competition, named APB/WSB Olympic qualification event, has lesser number of entries, the chances of participating boxers qualifying for the Olympics go up significantly.
Even as India, which has gathered three Olympic spots in 56kg, 64kg and 75kg so far, has entered only three boxers — Gaurav Bidhuri (52kg), Neeraj Goyat (69kg) and Dilbag Singh (81kg) — for the Venezuela tournament, the Services pugilists, who are not allowed to participate in any professional event, can do nothing about it.
“While boxers are not allowed to compete in professional circuit, other sportspersons from the Services can participate in different professional leagues such as kabaddi, hockey and football,” Brig. (retd) P.K.M. Raja, heading a professional body the Indian Boxing Council (IBC), told Sportstar.
“Services has got some outstanding boxers and at least four to five of them could have qualified for the Olympics through the Venezuela event and made the country proud at the Rio Olympics,” said a disappointed Raja, a former Indian Amateur Boxing Federation (IABF) Secretary.
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