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Cheated then insulted

2 Oct. 2014 1:03 AM IST

It was a shocking episode at the 17th Asian Games 2014 for India, where ace boxer Sarita Devi (60kg) was denied a certain win through a controversial decision by two judges who awarded the bout to local boxer Jina Park of South Korea. The 32-year old boxer from Manipur dominated majority of the bout. Television replays clearly showed that Sarita landed more punches on the South Korean. The commentator voiced surprise over the decision as felt certain, that the Indian boxer from Manipur had out punched her opponent. Added to the tragedy for Sarita was that there was no boxing manager for the Indian team, because the SAI has cut down the size of the contingent . Had a manager been with the team, then the team could have lodged the complaint. Also no Indian officials of the Indian Olympic Association(IOA) at the Incheon Asian Games had even tried to speak to Sarita after the episode. Instead, the inconsolable Sarita was left to herself and also had to borrow $500 as non-refundable fee for lodging the protest. The International Boxing Association’s technical committee rejected the appeal against the verdict. The behaviour of Indian officials was in stark contrast to that of Mongolian officials, who reacted promptly after Mongolian boxer Tugstsogt Nyambayar was controversially ousted from the men’s bantamweight category. Nyambayar lost to a South Korean opponent after a controversial decision by the judges. IOA officials, most of who are where they are through government or political patronage and have time and again, failed to fight for justice. After the humiliation, Sarita is being insulted by the Boxing India, which has reportedly initiated disciplinary proceedings with an urgency that is bewildering. Boxing India is toeing the line of the AIBA against Sarita and in doing so, has only added insult to injury; not only to her but to the sports in India. Instead of judging Sarita unfairly again, it would be pertinent instead, to ask the world boxing body, AIBA, to put the judges on the dock for the controversy. Judges are not infallible and this is why cricket has third eye and replays, including hockey, tennis, badminton, athletics while football has belatedly taken a step in this regard. It would be therefore, only fair that in order to avoid needless controversies, boxing too should used replays to help make decisions. Sarita is not the first Indian sportsperson to have been a victim of biased decision. There have been several in the past, such as- the controversial decision which cost Indian boxer Gurcharan Singh the bout at the Sydney Olympics in 2002; the 1974 Tehran Asian Games, where Indian boxer Til Bahadur Bura was denied a sure win by the referee. Another boxer Sumit Sangwan was denied a win at the 2012 London Olympics that triggered outrage among the Indian boxing fraternity. At the 2012 London Olympics, Manoj Kumar the 2010 gold medallist at the Commonwealth Games, was robbed of a win by biased judges. At the 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games, Pinki Jangra despite leading in the rounds, was ultimately denied a win by biased judges. Sarita faces ban for refusing the medal that was precipitated by biased decision and if she is banned, then it would only be fair if the judges are also banned.

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