London Olympics: Boxing federation alleges bias against Indians
The Indian male boxers have left fans high and dry, unable to win a single medal at the London Olympics, but federation secretary Brig P K Muralidharan Raja is not going to press the panic button. In an exclusive chat with Mail Today on Thursday, Raja’s lament was the poor quality of work done by the referees.”I think we were distinctly unlucky not to have won a medal in men’s boxing, but there are no excuses. We had our chances and the depth was there for all to see. Had these same bouts taken place in some other country and not Britain, the results may have been different,” thundered Raja.In his view, even Devendro Singh’s last bout, which ended in agony, was a sad one to lose. “I am sure, because of the opponent being from Ireland, we were at the receiving end,” added Raja.Till now, there was a huge debate how the Indian boxers had lost some close bouts in London but Raja’s words make it clear that there are dubious verdicts even today in amateur boxing.”I am an international referee and am convinced the Indian boxers have been unlucky,” said Raja.Looking ahead, Raja said there is no need to panic about the future of Indian boxing. “It’s very creditable that seven male boxers qualified this time and there is huge depth. We need to keep working hard on their training programme,” said Raja.But there could be a brief lull in India’s future boxing preparations after this as elections are due to take place next month.advertisementAs per the government guidelines, Abhay Chautala, president of the Indian Amateur Boxing Federation, has served two terms and will have to move out.”I have served two terms as secretary and can now become the president of the federation. We have our plans in place though at this point of time my talking about it may be premature,” said Raja.It is well known that Raja has played a huge role in making the federation plans all these years and deciding on the exposure-cum-training schedules.There is a clause in the government guidelines which says a government servant cannot serve more than one term as a sports federation official. However, Raja is hoping this will be waived off as he has permission from his department and the Indian Army to continue as an office bearer.”I am in any case retiring next November from the Army and am ready to be the president,” said Raja.The problem with sports federation elections is that the returning officer goes strictly by the rule book. However, if the sports ministry can make an exception, Raja can continue.In Raja’s view, the growth of Indian boxing has been a well planned one. At a time when more than technique of the boxers, scoring punches for the computers to register points has become important, Raja says it has been a coordinated effort.”We leave the coaching to the coaches but our technical experts do tell them what way the boxers need to be groomed. It is as a combined result of this our boxers have done well, though the disappointment of not winnng a medal is there,” said Raja.But the biggest statement from Raja came when he said the Indian boxing federation needed a total revamp. “I have always said that sports federations should be run like a corporate body. If I am to run this federation, I will ensure there is a total revamp and that will benefit the sport.We have got excellent support from the government and there is so much talent waiting to be tapped. If you got to the north east, there are so many women boxers who want to emulate Mary Kom,” said Raja.As regards the exit of national coach GS Sandhu, as he had said this would be his last international assignment, Raja said there was nothing to worry.”I think it’s only after the elections we can talk about all this. Let us celebrate Mary Kom’s medal for the time being,” he added.