Mumbai: Boxing Federation of India (BFI) presidential candidate Adv. Ashish Shelar unveiled his agenda for Indian boxing here on Saturday, starting with a state of the art academy for the sport, a full-fledged own office for the federation and a title sponsor among other things.
“We have already done a lot of groundwork to transform boxing and I will reveal all of them
on February 3, once we win the elections,” Shelar said at a packed press conference at the MCA Academy in Mumbai. “I was pained to learn that one of India’s top sports doesn’t have an own office. We have set ourselves a deadline of three months to change that,” he added, outlining his priority.
Former Maharashtra sports minister and prominent BJP leader Shelar is pitted against incumbent Ajay Singh for the president’s post in the much-delayed elections for the BFI, scheduled for February 3 in Gurugram.
“A lot of resentment has built up against Ajay Singh who had promised many things before coming to power four years back but failed to deliver on any count. Out boxers or our support staff have not got anything at all in the last four years. I have already started working on this and can reveal that a mega corporate house, with whom I have already had talks, is keen to come on board as sponsor,” Shelar said.
“We are absolutely confident of winning the elections. All the members are with us as they are keen on effecting a change at the top after the failed experiment with the current dispensation,” he added.
Almost all of BFI’s prominent leaders, including, secretary-general Jay Kowli, vice-president Dr CB Raje (who is contesting for the secretary-general’s post), Prof Anil Kumar Mishra (contesting for the Treasurer’s post), joint secretary Rajesh Desai (contesting for the same post) and Bengal Amateur Boxing Association president Asit Banerjee, were at the press conference and each of them charged that boxing had suffered majorly in the last four years under Ajay Singh’s reign.
Bengal’s Asit Banerjee lamented the step-motherly treatment given to the state units under the current dispensation. “Our voices were muffled. So everybody is keen on a change now,” he said.
“We have a lot of talent in the country and if harnessed properly, boxing can certainly grow immensely. Our target is no longer a bronze medal, we are aiming for gold,” he added.
“It was a one-man show till now and nothing was done at the grassroots level. The federation collected sponsorship money but neither the boxers nor the state units got a single penny,” Jay Kowli said. “We do not want our operations to be Delhi or Mumbai-centric. We want to make it India-centric where all state associations have a say,” he added.
Desai insists the exclusive approach of the current BFI top brass in Delhi saw them turning a deaf ear to good ideas and suggestions. “Lots of suggestions were given in the last four years but all were ignored. We have some very good professionals in the federation but their services were not utilised,” added Desai, who is also chairman of the Sports Science Commission of the BFI.