The lack of an effective Indian boxing federation has damaged the competitiveness of the sport and contributed to the decline of boxing in the country, women's Olympic flyweight bronze medallist M.C. Mary Kom said on Tuesday.
With no athletes representing India in women's boxing at this year's Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Kom said not enough was being done to promote the sport in the country.
"There is no federation (in India)... there is no proper organised national (event) for the last two-three years. So no competition. If we have more competition, every boxer will train regularly," Kom told Reuters.
"Even other categories too but now the competition is getting tougher and tougher. It's not easy to qualify," added Kom, whose life inspired a Bollywood biopic in 2014.
"Even men's boxing also. Last Olympics, seven qualified, now only one. They have a last qualification. If none qualify after that, then we only have one."
Kom, who won India's first Olympic medal in women's boxing in London four years ago, will not be able to represent India at the Rio Games as she needed to reach the semi-finals of the world championships but lost in the second round last month.
The five-times world champion's only remaining hope of getting to the Olympics was through a wildcard but AIBA spokesman Nicolas Jomard said there would be no wildcards for boxing events in Rio.
"It is very painful. The thing about the training time, the schedule, the struggle, three-four months away from the family... So all the hard work I would say has been wasted," said Kom, who was speaking at a CP Foods launch.
Last year, Kom said she wanted to retire from boxing after the Rio Olympics but the 33-year-old has not decided on her future.
"I have not yet decided. Maybe the plan can change. I have not announced whether I will retire or not," Kom said.
Asked what went wrong in the qualifying round of the World Championship, she said it was a tough and a close match. "I gave my best, but still lost. It was a very tough match and a close fight," she said.
Meanwhile, speaking about late Muhammad Ali, who passed away in the USA after a 32-year battle with Parkinson's disease, the five-time World champion said she was inspired by the legendary boxer to take up boxing as a career.
"Like other boxers, I was also inspired by Muhammad Ali when I donned the gloves and opted boxing as my career. He is my hero and he will always remain so. All boxers and athletes miss him and it is a big loss to the world of sports," said Mary Kom.
(With PTI inputs)