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Gold for Pinki Rana Jangra at Indian Elite Women's National Finals in Raipur City
by Michael O'Neill
October 17, 2014
Photo: Facebook


(OCT 17) What a difference a few months’ make! Last time I saw Pinki Jangra in action was semi-finals day at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow in August when a very dejected Pinki lost out to Northern Ireland’s Michaela Walsh in their bout to decide who would take on Nicola Adams for the Commonwealth crown.

Today though Pinki can look forward with some optimism to being part of the Indian team for the forthcoming AIBA World Elite Championships in Korea’s Jeju Island in November as last night she annexed 1st Monnet Steele Indian Senior Elite National Championships title at light-flyweight- part of the Boxing India selection process for the worlds.

There remains though the possibility that the B.I selection committee could opt for 5 time world champion, MC Mary Kom who did not - due to a shoulder injury - take part in this week’s Nationals. Should MC Mary Kom NOT be selected then inevitably there will be yet another huge debate in the Indian media as there was when Pinki Rana was chosen for the Commonwealths.

Of course there are other possibilities – Pinki could arguably be slotted in another weight – the 10 weights in Jeju according to AIBA website being: 45 – 48kg, 51kg, 54kg, 57Kg, 60kg, 64kg, 69kg, 75kg, 81kg, and 81+kg.

It would be highly controversial if indeed the newly formed AIBA affiliated member ‘Boxing India’ overlook Mary Kom, even more so since she took India’s only (women’s) Gold medal at the recent Asian Games in Incheon.

On last night’s finals, the highly respected “Times of India” (T.O.I) had this to say: “Months of hard work finally paid off for Pinki Rani as she clinched gold at the Senior National women's Boxing Championships title in Raipur on Thursday.

Maintaining domination throughout, the boxer from Railway Sports Promotion Board (RSPB) got the better of Mizoram's Rebecca Lalinmawil 3-0 to add a National title to her kitty. And, riding on Pinki's performance, RSPB won the championship with 6 gold medals and 52 points, followed by Haryana.

Meanwhile another well informed Indian media outlet “SportsKeeda” highlighted the fact that “Sarjubala Devi tasted glory for the second time in the Senior National Women’s Boxing Championship, clinching the gold in the light flyweight category (45-48 kg), out boxing Haryana’s Sweety in the Boxing India-organised event.

The 2011 World Youth Boxing Championship gold medallist, who had won the 2011 Senior Nationals in Bhopal, was head over shoulders over her Haryana opponent, unleashing punches consistently to carry the day.

2011 World Youth Boxing Championship bronze medallist Pwilao Basumatary representing Railway Sports Promotion Board won the featherweight crown (54-57kg) prevailing over Preeti Beniwal of All India Police (AIP). Railway’s Priyanka Choudhary pipped Tripura’s Priya to corner glory in the light weight category (57-60 kg).

Pavitra of Railways Sports Promotion Board put it across 2011 World Youth Boxing Championship gold medallist Minu Basumatary of Assam in the light welterweight category (60-64 kg).

The tournament saw some ‘south’ flavour with Meena Kumari winning the bantamweight crown (51-54kg) and later emerging as the most promising boxer as well. The welter weight (64-69 kg) and middle weight categories (69-75) were won by Railways’ Neetu and Monica Saun. Haryana’s Saweety won the light heavy weight crown (75-81 kg), while Kavita of All India Police (AIP) bagged the super heavyweight (+81 kg) crown”.

So that is how Finals night at the at the Balbir Juneja Indoor Stadium in Raipur, Chhattisgarh panned out and now it is down to Boxing India to sit down, consider what they saw in Raipur and add in others perhaps especially MC Mary Kom and L.Sarita Devi before naming that squad for Jeju Island November 12th/24th – or is it that simple?

Remember in the background there is still the investigation into the events at the recent Asian Games to be finalised. Remember that the AIBA’s Supervisor in Incheon filed a report on Devi’s semi-final loss to Korea’s Jina Park saying: “The whole incident looked like a well-planned scenario by her and her team, and it is regretful to watch a boxer refuse the medal regardless of what happened in the competition. In this regard, as the Technical Delegate, I had to request OCA to review this incident, so any boxer or athlete in other sports will not follow in her footsteps by respecting the spirit of fair-play and sportsmanship of the Olympic Movement”. (Note the AIBA’s wording – “her and her team” (that could include team coaches and possibly other boxers).

Next day there was the refusal of Sarita Devi to accept her bronze medal on the podium – an occurrence which prompted the AIBA to issue yet another Press Release denouncing not only the boxer but also those who protested with her including journalists:

“As the Korean boxer returned it back to the Indian Boxer, she then left the medal at the podium and left the Ceremony.

Then, after the Organizing Committee member of staff followed her and insisted she take the medal, she asked him to leave it in the protest room. When the Organizing Committee staff walked towards the protest room, all Indian journalists followed the staff and some of them shouted “Koreans are stealing their medal.”

AIBA has already proceeded its Disciplinary Action Process to review this case, and the decision will be made immediately after the Asian Games.”

Will the AIBA now conclude their investigation before the AIBA World’s at the Halla Gymnasium in Incheon and if they do will the Executive Committee announce their conclusion and possibly impose sanctions, before or after Jeju?

Times are complicated indeed not only in Indian boxing circles but also in AIBA-land what with a newly formed affiliate “Boxing India” having to appoint referees and judges at the last minute for the Nationals and the AIBA’s own investigations, even more so when one takes into account the communications to the AIBA from countries like Philippines and Mongolia and notably from the Olympic Association of Asia (AOA) regarding alleged bias by judges in Incheon.

Though I do not believe there was ‘bias’ by the judges in Incheon (boxing always has had these type of allegations, usually from the losers, be they Amateur or Pro I do believe that the AIBA did not allow enough time for all of the AIBA technical rules to filter through to its own members and they to their clubs and boxers and this is hopefully something that the AIBA will take on board in future.

Indeed Boxing India told the T.O.I that ‘"Boxing India is saddened by the developments involving Ms Sarita Devi and the emotional outburst of the celebrated pugilist. We sincerely hope the matter will be expeditiously resolved by the IOA with AIBA in the best interest of the boxer, the sport and the country”

She is now facing disciplinary action from the AIBA and B.I President Sandeep Jajodia said the matter needs to be resolved promptly."We are hopeful that the involved authorities, the IOA and the International Boxing Association (AIBA) shall judiciously resolve the matter, without compromising with the sports or sportspersons", said Jajodia.

Sarita Devi was just one of a number of boxers and/or coaches who questioned the judging at the Asian Games and to add to AIBA’s woes, the OCA, Olympic Council of Asia’s President Sheikh Ahmad al-Fahad al-Sabah said the OCA would carry out an investigation after receiving a number of formal complaints.

“We have received letters from five National Olympic Committees about boxing and we will discuss this with the international federation," he said.

In addition many neutral boxing experts feel that some of the judges clearly do need more guidance, especially those who have been recruited only in recent times. Some of the unusual scores in Incheon may well be due to inexperience in officiating outside of their home countries, particularly in MAJOR International events, and thus perhaps fearing hostility from local fans tend to be more strict against non-nationals. That can easily result in being perceived as “bias” in favour of ‘host nation’ boxers.

That most neutrals believe that Sarita Devi was victim of such a decision in Incheon is one good reason why the AIBA should not just concentrate on the disciplinary issues against Devi but also look independently on the “R+J” issues raised and if necessary take some officials out of the limelight until re-training and ‘guidance’ has been given.

After all it is not only the Indians who felt hard done by in Incheon.

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