Ajay Singh, President, BFI
A strong, visionary leadership to revive the lost glory of Indian boxing and take it to even higher levels were the need of the hour when the Boxing Federation of India (BFI) came into existence in September 2016. When I took charge of the office, my priority was to ensure that Indian boxing not only excels in the domestic circuit but can stamp its authority globally as well. Tireless efforts on the part of the players and coaches, relentless efforts by my colleagues at BFI and coordinated efforts at all levels resulted in creating a new chapter for Indian boxing in the last four years.
With India’s population being 1.3 billion, 60% of whom are under 25 years of age, we have always had the potential to nurture multiple Olympic medallists. This encouraged us to set a goal of winning multiple Olympic medals and re-establish ourselves as a boxing powerhouse.
I feel proud to say that, since the inception of BFI, four years down the line, India has not only achieved recognition internationally as a federation but Indian players too are followed the world over. The sport has taken giant leaps across the country too as the game gets promoted far and wide which gives me immense satisfaction.
When BFI was formed, its mission was to immediately reorganize and re-establish the Nationals and reinstate the faith in boxers. Not only was it done successfully but it was even surpassed by incorporating age-group Nationals year on year with BFI and state federations working in tandem. Today Sub-Junior Nationals and Khelo India Academy with around 350 trainees across Sub-Junior, Junior and Youth categories have also been set up, keeping the future in mind.
Our boxers are now world-beaters and history-makers as the Indian contingent has shown remarkable consistency to clock seven best-ever performances in major international competitions in the past two years. We have also had the the privilege of hosting the prestigious Women’s World Championships and the Youth Women’s World Boxing Championships as well as two editions of the India Open which offered the highest ever prize money for a boxing event held in the country.
The sport continued to make more firsts with the staging of the first-ever Big Bout Indian Boxing League that not only showcased the biggest stars but also gave platform to promising talents. It has also given a sense of commercial viability and financial security on all levels.
Besides, an unprecedented haul of nine Olympic quotas from a single qualifier underlines how far we have come and we hope to add more to it. We are delighted to say that Indian boxers are now regularly featured in top-10 of world rankings with as many as 12 pugilists finding a place inside the top 10 of the AIBA world rankings released in July 2020 as Amit Panghal climbed to the summit.
Consistent exposure tours too are being organised to develop the quality not only for elite boxers but also for youth and junior teams which have reaped rich dividends. BFI looks at holistic development of Indian boxing and a series of technical officials and coaches’ training in association with AIBA, Government of India and Sports Authority of India (SAI) has not only resulted in the betterment of boxing quality but has also developed and enhanced the eco-system of boxing.
The number of AIBA 2 star coaches have gone up by many folds as has the number of quality judges and technical officials. While there were only 5 R&Js in 2016, that the number has grown exponentially over the years with BFI extensively conducting several certification courses for R&Js, coaches, cut man besides other technical certification courses as well. Today we have succeeded in adding 78 more R&Js out of which 3 belong to the AIBA 3 star level.
In these tough times when the world is battling the COVID-19 pandemic, BFI has started online classes and has become the first federation to do so in India. BFI believes not only in establishing vision but also leading by example in an all-round manner. As we are all reeling in these unprecedented circumstances, I hope all the boxers and everybody in BFI and state federations will come together and continue contributing to the greater interests and development of Indian boxing.