New Delhi: India’s former world champion boxer L Sarita Devi has been finalised as a candidate for the International Boxing Association’s (AIBA) athletes commission. This commission is to be created for the first time after voting during the world championships for men and women in September-October.
The 37-year-old is an eight-time Asian Championships medallist — five of them gold — and is currently an athletes representative in the executive committee of the Boxing Federation of India. The federation nominated her for the position in the world body as well.
“Obviously, I am very proud of being nominated but I also understand that if I am elected, it would be a huge responsibility,” the Manipuri veteran in the lightweight (60kg) category said.
Sarita, a former national champion and 2014 Commonwealth Games silver-medallist, is the sole contender from the Asian bloc as of now. She is set to be picked unopposed as the commission is supposed to feature one male and a female boxer from each of the five regional confederations (Asia, Oceania, Europe, Americas and Europe). The last date of filing nominations was 5 June while the list of candidates in the fray was finalised earlier this month.
The athletes’ commission is part of the reforms that the International Olympic Committee has recommended for AIBA, which has been stripped of the right to conduct the sport in the 2020 Olympic Games due to alleged financial and administrative mismanagement.
“I am still an active athlete and have no plans of giving up anytime soon. I understand that it would be a challenge to manage my time for the multiple roles but I will try to do my best if I make it,” Sarita said. “Having served in the BFI executive body, I have some experience of raising athletes’ issues,” she added.
The voting by boxers will be done during the men’ world championship in Yekaterinburg, Russia from 7 to 9 September and the women’s world championship in Ulan-Ude, also in Russia, from 29 September to 2 October.
Sarita said if she makes the final panel, her focus will be on issues related to women’s boxing. “The well being of women boxers is a primary concern for me and I will try and be their active voice in AIBA,” she said.
The AIBA athletes commission members would be mandated to be a bridge between the world body and the boxers for greater transparency and coordination in the formulation of rules and projects for the sport. The commission members will be expected to also liaison with the IOC to ensure that boxers are represented in its athletes’ commission.
The first Indian boxing connection to an IOC athletes’ body was back in 2017 when the legendary MC Mary Kom was invited to address its Athletes’ Forum in Lausanne.