Asian medallist Manpreet Singh seeks SSCB permission to go professional

NewDelhi,Dec12:With professional boxers now welcome in all national and international amateur events, former Asian Games silver-medallist Manpreet Singh has decided to take the plunge after one of Indian boxing’s biggest employers — the Services Sports Control Board (SSCB) — allowed its pugilists to compete on the circuit.

In a move that could set a precedent for other institutional boards, which are wary of letting boxers employed with them compete on the professional circuit, SSCB has finally relented.

“The SSCB and the Army Sports Control Board have allowed their boxers to compete in the professional circuit. This move came about because of Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar’s intervention. He has sanctioned this decision,” Brig. P K Muralidharan Raja, President of the Indian Boxing Council, a licensing body for professional boxers, revealed.

Brig Raja is here to meet officials of the Boxing Federation of India (BFI) to forge a “harmonious” equation with the national governing body for amateur boxers.

It is to be noted that AIBA, after a recent meeting in London, decided to allow professional boxers to compete in national events after the Olympic doors were thrown open for them earlier this year.

With the SSCB letting its boxers go professional, at least four have taken the plunge.

Prominent among them is Manpreet, who won the heavyweight silver medal in the 2010 Asian Games. He will compete in the cruiserweight on the pro circuit.

Also deciding to go professional is Som Bahadur Pun, a former Commonwealth Games silver-medallist. Pun had been rendered inactive owing to his ill-health. Pun will be competing in the super middleweight category.

Joining him will be Sanjay Kolte, a former world cadet silver-medallist, who won a gold medal at the 2010 World Millitary Games. Kolte is also a multiple-time national champion and will be competing in the lightweight division.

Another name to join the professional bandwagon from the SSCB stable would be Santosh Harijan (super featherweight).

“We had also requested for Suranjoy Singh but he is right now the chief coach of Navy and that has not quite worked out,” Brig. Raja said.

Speaking about how a professional boxing body would forge a working equation with BFI, Brig Raja said, “Given that AIBA has now broken all barriers for professional boxers, it would be good to have a larger pool of boxers to choose from. The senior guys will have the option of turning pro so that the youngsters get enough chances of proving their mettle. And during trials both pros and amateurs can be pited against each other from where the best can go on to represent India.”

“All boxers tied up with IBC will be available for BFI. They can take a call,” he added.

The BFI, on its part, has already declared that it is not averse to letting professionals in after AIBA’s waiver.

“We obviously want a huge pool to pick from, so when the AIBA has allowed professionals, we will see how they can be assimilated,” BFI President Ajay Singh had stated on the opening day of the ongoing National Championships.

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