Controversy gripped the boxing competition in the 2014 Asian Games at Incheon on Tuesday after India’s Sarita Devi lost her lightweight semifinal bout against South Korea’s Jina Park. The Indian contingent was angry after the judges awarded the fight to Park, a bout that was clearly dominated by Sarita.
Sarita’s husband Thoiba Singh said: “The bout was fixed and this was an uncivilized decision.”
The Indians lodged a complaint after Mongolia also filed a protest on similar grounds — bias. Both protests were eventually rejected by the Games jury.
Interestingly, the international boxing federation is controlled by South Koreans and India have just formed a new body after they were approved by the world association.
In recent times, Indian boxing has been gripped by power struggle. Due to corruption charges, the original Indian Boxing Federation (IBF) was de-recognised by the Amateur International Boxing Federation. Only recently, AIBA helped form a new body – Boxing India. This enabled Indian boxers to compete under the tricolour in the Asian Games.
No Indian official was initially available to file a protest after the controversial fight, leaving Sarita’s husband to write a letter. He was joined by the team’s coach, Sagar Dhaiya. India paid the protest fee of USD 500, requesting that the bout be reviewed.
“When it comes to winning medals, we always come in the front for India. Why didn’t we protest. There’s a bias against us as we’re from the North-east. Are we not from India?” Sarita said.
An upset Sarita said: “All the training means nothing when such things happen. Didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. We sacrifice so much, even time with our kids.”