Amateur boxing in India might be in shambles but professional boxing is all set to get a massive fillip in the country with the launch of a governing body to facilitate boxers, who wish to follow in Vijender Singh's footsteps and try their luck in the lucrative circuit. (Also read: Vijender Singh says he will continue to support Indian boxers)
Brainchild of former Indian Amateur Boxing Federation (IABF) Secretary General Brig. P K Muralidharan Raja, the body would be formally launched on Wednesday and has the backing of international promoters.
"We would be facilitating the boxers who want to try their hand in the professional circuit. We would ensure financial security from our end besides offering them good deals with leading promoters. I will divulge the details of the plan on Wedanesday at the launch," Raja told PTI. (Must read: Mayweather loses title he won in Pacquiao fight)
"The boxers will only have to focus on their training and bouts, nothing more. They need not worry about the other aspects after this," added the administrator, who was widely credited for a smooth-functioning IABF, which was terminated after his tenure ended due to manipulation in elections.
Among the boxers on board even before a formal launch is the enigma called Gurcharan Singh, the Olympian who turned pro after going missing from a training camp in Czech Republic back in 2000. Gurcharan never returned to India after that and was declared a "deserter" by the Indian Army, his employer at that time.
Although 38 now, Gurcharan, who missed out on an Olympic medal after losing a close quarterfinal bout in 2000, would be an asset for the professional set-up in India, insisted Raja.
"Gurcharan has told me that he would be on the first flight available the moment I call him next. He is going to be registered with us. Also there is Pradeep Sihag, who has been a long-time pro boxer from India," said Raja.
Sihag is a winner of the Asian middleweight title in the pro circuit.
Raja said the new professional body would provide a "fresh pathway" to the boxers, who are either struggling to make the first team in amateur or desire to end their careers in that format.
"There is life beyond amateur and this will open up an new avenue for the boxers. Not everybody can go on to make it as big as Vijender did in the amateur and then command a good deal in the pro circuit. This new body will ensure that guys willing to take the plunge are helped properly," Raja said.
Vijender, India's first Olympic and World Championships medallist, turned pro recently, signing up with UK-based Queensberry Promoters.
Raja said the current administrative mess in the amateur circuit is not helping the cause of boxers either.
"Actually this idea of having a professional body was given by me to the International Boxing Association (AIBA) back in 2008-09 but they did not allow us. Now look at the state of amateur set-up. There is no governing body, an ad-hoc committee is running the show, things are in shambles," he said.
Amateur boxing in India is being currently administered by a five-member ad-hoc committee appointed by AIBA after the new federation, elected last year, failed to run the show and disintegrated following a revolt by the state units.