New Delhi : Professional boxing took baby steps in India with the launch of the first national governing body here on Wednesday.
Named the Indian Boxing Council (IBC), it will sanction professional matches and award national and subordinate championship titles. It will promote pro boxing in the country and facilitate pugilists who wish to turn professional in the hope of fat pay cheques, organisers said.
This comes close on the heels of the country's star men's amateur boxer Vijender Singh's decision to turn professional, just a year prior to the 2016 Rio Olympics. His move created a huge outcry in the country's boxing fraternity and was termed selfish and against the interests of the country by many.
Vijender, bronze medallist at the 2008 Olympics and a two-time medal winner in Asian Games, announced last month that he was joining boxing promotional company Queensbury Promotions in a "landmark, four-year deal".
The IBC is conceptualised by former Indian Amateur Boxing Federation (IABF) secretary general P.K. Muralidharan Raja and is partnered by IOS boxing promotions. He said it has the support of international promoters who are keen to develop professional boxing in India. It will be headquartered in Pune and has the support of several former IABF officials and boxers.
"IBC will be a not-for-profit organisation whose intention is to facilitate boxers who want to become professional," Muralidharan said.
Terming the initiative as a fresh beginning, Muralidharan dismissed notions that the IBC has an inherent conflict of interest issue with amateur boxing and has the potential to affect the sport in the country.
"IBC will be a new dawn of professional boxing in India. We are trying to create an ecosystem between professional and amateur boxing in the country," he said.
"Sometimes turning professional is the logical step for a boxer to further his or her career. The IBC doesn't have any conflict of interest with IABF or Boxing India."
Muralidharan said they are not looking for a big pool of boxers to start with. The pugilists will have to be 23 years and above to join the IBC, adding they are in contact with the different international pro boxing governing bodies to get affiliation.
The boxers will come through the amateur structure present in the country. The first fights conducted by the IBC will be held between September and October. The next fights will be held in December, he said.
Asked why Indian boxers will be tempted to join, Muralidharan said, "We would ensure financial security and offer them lucrative deals."
Muralidharan said the prolonged administrative imbroglio in amateur boxing in India and beyond has only disillusioned the pugilists, many of whom have contacted him, expressing interest in turning professional. He also said IBC has plans to launch a pro league in 2016 but the idea is still in its infancy.