Taking a strict action, AIBA has provisionally suspended India’s woman boxer Laishram Sarita Devi for refusing to accept the bronze medal at the Asian Games podium ceremony.
Protesting against a controversial verdict, Sarita in an unprecedented move, had refused to wear the medal around her neck as she broke down on the podium during the ceremony for the 57-60 kg category.
“The AIBA also provisionally suspended Sarita’s coaches (Messrs Gurbakhsh Singh Sandhu, Blas Iglesias Fernandez and Sagar Mal Dhayal) as well as Indian chef-de-mission in the Incheon Asiad, Adille J. Sumariwalla and will not allow any of them to participate at all levels of competitions, events and meetings until further notice,” an AIBA statement said.
This case has been sent for review by the AIBA Disciplinary Commission and it means that Sarita Devi, the above mentioned coaches as well as Sumariwalla, will not be allowed to participate in the AIBA women’s world boxing championships in Jeju Islands (Korea), 2014, the statement added.
Even though the AIBA had taken note of her written apology, the international body surprisingly decided to suspend the boxer and the national coaches.
The medal, which Devi had refused to accept, was handed over to India’s chef de mission Sumariwalla. It is understood that a battery of Indian officials, including chief boxing coach Gurbaksh Singh Sandhu, pressured Devi into writing an apology.
AIBA’s tainted history
This is not the first time that such an allegation has been levelled against the world body. Some officials are terming Devi’s actions an emotional outburst. But there’s more to it.
In the 1988 Olympic Games in Seoul, Park Si-Hun, who is now the head coach of the South Korean boxing contingent, won the gold medal in the light middleweight category in controversial fashion. Even then, not a single observer believed that Park had won, for he had received a terrific pummelling at the hands of Roy Jones Jr of the United States.
The verdict of three of the five judges was that Park was the winner, while two judges had picked Jones. It was officially recorded that Jones had landed 86 punches against Park’s 32. One judge even admitted after the bout that the decision was wrong. Two of the three judges who voted for Park were later banned for life.
Later, an International Olympic Committee (IOC) investigation concluded that three of the five judges had been brought around with inducements. Interestingly, Jones was awarded the Val Barker Trophy in 1988. This trophy is given to the boxer who exemplifies style at every Olympic Games. But the gold is still in the drawing room of Park.
During the 1986 Seoul Asian Games, South Korea rigged the boxing bouts and walked away with each of the 12 gold medals on offer. Four Indian boxers — Birajdar Sahu, Jayaram Seera, Daljit Singh and Jaipal Singh — were among the finalists, nay victims, of South Korea’s foul play.