“Gender parity was the thrust of the International Boxing Federation (AIBA) to push for women’s boxing a medal sports at the Summer Olympics,” said Kishen Mangaldas Narsi, Executive Member, AIBA and Secretary, Technical and Rules Commission.
The second crucial point, the AIBA told the IOC, was that they will use the same ring, officials and equipment.
Narsi had hinted to The Hindu on April 6, 2009, about the prospect of women boxers competing for three gold medals at the London Olympics in 2012 and he is quite delighted at the green signal given by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) at Berlin on Thursday.
“Women’s boxing was a demonstration sport at St. Louis in 1904. Boxing has been the only sport that did not have women competing for medals at the Olympics. This is great news,” said Narsi, who congratulated Taiwanese AIBA President Ching-Kuo Wu on Thursday saying “Mission Impossible has turned Mission Possible”.
Narsi said it’s been a long-drawn endeavour to reach this stage. “We began this push on gender parity after Mr. Wu took as President from Pakistan Anwar Chowdhury in 2006. Pakistan never sent women boxers. There are so many countries in the world (mainly Middle-East) that’s against women in sport and boxing.
This is great news for India and Mary Kom was the Brand Ambassador to make a strong pitch for this decision. Now women boxers will bring in a massive fan appeal for all events leading up to the London Olympics.
Now the women will compete for three gold medals in the 48-51 kg, 56-60 and 69-75 categories.
“AIBA has to readjust the men’s categories and bring it to ten medal groups. We have to sacrifice one gold medal in the men’s, but women will win three gold medals. The IOC, citing the Olympic Charter, has always been saying that it cannot increase the gold medals. In this case it will have to give two additional gold medals, because we are limiting the men’s group to ten. There will be 250 men boxers and 36 women boxers, 12 for each category,” explained Narsi.
Hoping that the IOC decision would prove to be shot in the arm for Indian women boxers to win medals at London, Narsi pointed out that no country will sleep now when it comes to women’s boxing. “AIBA has 196 members and 120 are in women’s boxing, although many of them don’t send women boxers. But the signs have been encouraging with 218 competitors in 13 weight categories at the 2008 World Women’s Boxing Championships held at Ningbo, near Shanghai, China. Moreover the five continents have their own championship. Africa has held once, Oceania 3, America 4, Asia 4 and Europe 6. In fact there more than 500,000 registered women boxers in the world.”
The first meeting
The first World Women’s Boxing held at Scranton, USA had 124 boxers from 31 countries, Antalya, Turkey in 2002 had 185 from 31, Podolka, Russia in 2205 had 139 from 30 countries, New Delhi in 2006 had 174 from 33 countries before the last world championship at Ningbo. The next world championship will be held at Bridgetown, Barbados in September 2010.Mary Kom won silver at Scranton and then four gold medals.
Narsi said women’s boxing began as a fitness sport in the 1990s especially in Sweden, Norway, Denmark and USA with the biggest poster girl in Laila Ali, a professional boxer and daughter of the legendary Muhammad Ali. “The European Championships set the trend for competitive boxing. France (2001) had 78 from 14 countries, Hungary in 2003 had 117 from 21 countries, Italy in 2004 had 116 from 16 countries, Norway in 2005 had 100 from 18 countries, Poland in 2006 had 126 from 22 countries and Denmark in 2007 had 137 from 26 countries. Women boxers began to punch bags and began to keep themselves fit initially. A stage came they said “why not train hard and compete”. It was a natural process. And now they will fight for a gold and silver and 2 bronze medals,” said Narsi.
Narsi told Abhay Singh Chautala (IABF President) on Friday morning that States should be allowed two entries in each category for the nationals (women) to be held at Jamshedpur in October.
“It’s one now. Manipur, Kerala, AP, Maharashtra,Haryana, Punjab and Assam Rifles have strong boxers. Sarita Devi from Manipur recently won the gold medal at the World Police and Fires Games in Canada. There are women in paramilitary forces who can take up boxing. Well, the Berlin decision has created opportunities for Indian women to win medals at the Olympics,” said Narsi, who played a major part drafting the proposal as Secretary of the AIBA Technical and Rules Commission.