BFI has signaled red for the Railways boxers taking part in the ongoing SBL.
Even as the employer Railways has no “direct objection”, Neeraj Goyat and fellow railways pugilists participating in the Super Boxing League may be derailed for the National boxing competitions. RSPB has written to its zonal sports units and affiliates that Goyat, Amandeep Singh and Kuldeep Singh have not got any sanction from the department to participate in the professional league. It is stated that the boxers are participating in the league without securing the required no objection certificate from their employers.
The boxers have not received a copy of this communiqué.
“It doesn’t make any sense because we are not even fighting under amateur rules. This league is independent of the BFI. We have fought on the professional circuit so I don’t know why these problems are being created this time,” Gaurav Bhatt has quoted Goyat as saying in his report for Indian Express. Goyat is leading the Haryana Warriors in the SBL. Amandeep is leading the Punjab Sultans while multiple-time national champion Kuldeep captains Bahubali Boxers.
“Last year too, we applied for an NOC for our professional fights and got it in a couple of days. This time, we had sent the application almost 20 days in advance but it was declined at the last moment,” Indian Express report has quoted Kuldeep as saying. “Also, we only got to know about the letter as it was being circulated through WhatsApp the evening before the league’s opening. We never actually saw the letter physically.”
Amandeep is a Commonwealth Games bronze medallist.
Meanwhile, RSPB has clarified that the department has no direct objection over its players participating in professional events. The board secretary, Ms Rekha Yadav has said that the board always allows its sportspersons to take part in professional events. She added that the situation was different because the BFI had refused to allow its boxers to take part in the league run by promoter Bill Dosanjh and British boxer Amir Khan. In such an event, if Railways would not take risk of a BFI embargo on the other railways boxers’ participation at the National Games.
“I am least concerned if they recognize this competition or not. Historically, from cricket to kabaddi, we have not just allowed our players to take part in competitions but have encouraged them to do so. The more they play the better. However, BFI has hinted that it will not allow the boxers to play in the nationals, which will impact my team’s performance. In such cases, I will not be able to issue an NOC. I have sent a letter to the federation and am awaiting a written response,” the report quotes Ms Yadav as saying.
There is no official comment from BFI.
Indian Air Force though has granted leave and permission to its boxers to join the SBL. Deepak Tanwar, captaining the Maratha Yoddhas, is quoted as saying that “my board (Services) gave me a go-ahead to compete in the SBL, provided I applied for leave. Even Vijender Singh has a job with Haryana Police. Everybody should want their boxers to succeed. If you really want to promote the sport in India, that is,” Tanwar said.
Meanwhile, Neeraj, Amandeep and Kuldeep have decided to go ahead and take part in the league. Other Railways boxers, including Sunny Dayal and Deepak Sharma, pulled out in the wake of the RSPB letter. “It’s all because of the scare tactics being used. Only a handful of amateurs play at the Commonwealth Games and end with a job and money from the Centre and state governments,” said Kuldeep. “Fighting at Nationals, no boxer will get such TV coverage, audience or money as is the case with the SBL. That’s why, so many young boxers were excited to come here and take part.” “Kisi wajah se professional boxers ko deshdrohi ki tarah dekha ja raha hai,” the report has quoted Goyat as saying. “How are we doing anything wrong when even the world body AIBA has said that a professional boxer can compete in amateur events. I represented my country and nearly qualified for the Rio Olympics as a professional boxer.”
The 25-year-old took part in AIBA’s Olympic qualifiers in Venezuela last year but fell one win short of booking a Rio berth. “If I had qualified, people wouldn’t have been so afraid of professional boxing and perhaps would have promoted it. Manny Pacquiao can be an Member of Parliament without having fought an amateur bout, and we are being treated like second-grade citizens. We are boxers, trying to fight another professional boxing match. Hum ye toh nahi bol rahe ki bhai ab hum kushti karenge.”
Bill Dosanjh and Aamir Khan promoted Super Boxing League is being contested between frachisee-based eight teams from July 7 to August 12 in New Delhi over the week ends.