Tribune News Service
Chandigarh, January 21
There is a need to make top-level training facilities available across the country to increase the spread of the sport, said Ashish Shelar, who is one of the candidates in the Boxing Federation of India’s (BFI) presidential elections. “Boxing, or any sport, can only thrive when good training facilities are easily available. Unfortunately, such facilities are not spread across the country,” Shelar said. “There should be at least one National Boxing Academy in each of the eight zones of the country. There is a lot of talent in the northern and eastern states. Southern India used to have some of the best boxers. Unfortunately, the South is now being ignored,” he added.
Shelar also said that there should be more inter-district or inter-zonal tournaments. “State units are crucial for the success of any national federation. The more we empower them with strong infrastructure and financial stability, the more all-round development we will see,” he said.
Shelar said that boxing has not been able to attract the kind of corporate attention it deserves. “Boxing is one of the top six priority disciplines in the country. It is one of the most entertaining too, if the ratings of the Big Bout are any indication. Sadly, it has not been able to attract the kind of corporate attention it deserves,” he said.
“The Central Government is contributing its share, which goes towards mainly the elite boxers of the country. The BFI has to play an active role and spread the game by empowering the state units, ensuring there are lucrative national-level events in each zone by attracting local sponsors and corporate entities,” he added.
Shelar, who has been attached with cricket and football, said his relationship with boxing in Mumbai and Maharashtra went a long way back. “I could not pursue my initial interest in boxing during my college days due to a change in profession. But I have always kept in touch with my friends in boxing and appreciated its steady growth in Maharashtra over the years,” said Shelar. “It was only a few months back that my friends from the Maharashtra Boxing Association requested me to contest. They felt that my experience in cricket as president of MCA and as Maharashtra’s Sports Minister will help.”
“My immediate aim would be to bind all state units together by enhancing their financial status, so that sport becomes an attractive career option for the youngsters,” he said.