'Vijender Singh Turning Professional Means India Have Lost a Good Olympic Medal Prospect'

Updated: 29 June 2015 20:52 IST

Professionals cannot compete in the Olympics as per AIBA's regulations and Vijender, who announced his decision in London to join the pro ranks today, will thus be ineligible to take part in next year's Rio Games.

Vijender Singh in action during CWG 2014 © PTI

Mumbai:

Former Boxing India Secretary Jay Kowli feels that the country has lost a good medal prospect at next year's Rio Olympics after star boxer Vijender Singh joined the professional circuit on Monday.('Vijender Decision Shocking')

"I feel India's mission for the Rio Olympics has lost a good prospect. He's an extraordinary boxer who has survived for three Olympics which speaks volumes of his fitness," said Kowli, who is in the world body AIBA-nominated ad-hoc committee headed by Kishen Narsi to oversee boxing in India.

Professionals cannot compete in the Olympics as per AIBA's regulations and Vijender, who announced his decision in London to join the pro ranks today, will thus be ineligible to take part in next year's Rio Games.

"It must be a very sound business decision. He's not new to business deals, contracts etc.. I am sure he must have gauged all that and taken that step. If he's going for a very big deal, then I am happy for him," said Kowli about the 2008 Olympic bronze medal winner's decision to cross the line.

"This reaction is based on the limited information that we are learning from the news. I know nothing about his contract details," he explained.

"At the same time it feels sad. I was expecting him to qualify for Olympics, looking at his fitness and intelligence as a boxer. Surviving in boxing in three Olympics is a great achievement in itself. Even at London, reaching the quarter finals was not easy.

"I was counting him in. He and (2012 London Games bronzewinner) Mary Kom have repeatedly proved their critics wrong. Every time people would say that they are finished they will come back with something," said Kowli.

Vijender's decision has left a hole in Indian boxing, said Kowli, adding there were other talents in the country too.

"Of course we have a lot of talent in India but yes, it will certainly create a void for some time. Other hungry, starry eyed boxers can look for this slot. But getting into pro boxing is not easy even for established amateur boxers who have to reach Vijender's heights."

"How many boxers have survived two Olympics, forget about three. Attempts are being made in India to start pro boxing. AIBA itself has WSB and APB (semi professional boxing)," Kowli said.

"As a former boxer, I see all this as great development. Boxing is growing in India and is becoming a much viable option for employment. That's the silver lining in the cloud.

"Stories of Vijender, Akhil Kumar, Manoj Kumar, Mary Kom and Sarita Devi doing so well will encourage so many boxers to come forward. Boxing has penetrated deep. It only needs good management, that's all." Echoing Kowli's views Narsi said, "It's good for future as it has opened up a lot of avenues for youngsters. More people will be encouraged to take up boxing. It's good for Vijender. He's been an icon for boxing for many years. We wish him luck."

Narsi was hopeful that the mess in Indian boxing administration would be sorted out soon.

"We were in Delhi for a meeting (today). It was a very fruitful meeting. The (boxing) community has also come forward to join AIBA's efforts. Hopefully everything will settle down," Kowli said.

"We have Asian Championships coming up and there are quite a few Olympic qualification events coming up. We have a very busy schedule in 2016," he added.

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