Manipur boxing body stands in Sarita Devi's corner
Despite having tendered an unconditional apology, India boxer Sarita Devi faces the prospect of being banned by the International Boxing Association (AIBA) for refusing to accept her bronze medal during the lightweight (60kg) medal ceremony at the Incheon Asiad on Wednesday.
Sarita Devi (left) puts her bronze medal around the neck of Park Ji-na during the medal ceremony on Wednesday. Pic/PTI.
However, Khoibi Salam, Secretary General of the Manipur Amateur Boxing Association, has launched an impassioned plea to spare Devi from any retrospective action as he believes a ban will kill the promising career of the 29-year-old mother of one.
“Sarita reacted the way she did as she was heartbroken. Yes, she went out of control and that is a mistake. However, if the AIBA punishes her with a further suspension, it will ruin her career. I will urge Boxing India (BI) to request AIBA not to slap any suspension on the boxer. She has been a world champion (2006 in New Delhi) after all,” Salam told mid-day.
However, there is not much that BI can do, informed newly appointed president, Sandeep Jajodia.
“We have no official status in the Asian Games. The Indian Olympic Association (IOA) formed the Ad Hoc Committee that selected the Indian boxing contingent for Incheon. So, they will have to resolve the issue with AIBA,” Jajodia said before adding that he sympathised with the boxer.
Meanwhile, Salam also had some strong words for the judges, who officiated Sarita’s semi-final against South Korean boxer Park Ji-na, which the Indian boxer felt she should have won.
‘Judges should be ashamed’
“Sarita has been victimised. The decision was totally wrong as she dominated the bout. Everyone could see that. The judges should be ashamed of themselves. The AIBA should cancel their licenses and they shouldn’t be allowed to judge another bout again,” he thundered before slamming the IOA officials accompanying the boxing contingent in Korea.
“We know that the referee’s ruling can be questioned, but not the judges scores. Sarita didn’t know this as she is not very educated, but I’m surprised that the IOA officials didn’t know this too? Didn’t the deputy Chef de Mission (Kuldip Vats) know this? It is shameful that Sarita had to borrow money from journalists when the IOA officials were present at the venue.”