Four Indian boxers who won gold medals at the Women’s World Boxing Championships in the capital last March are yet to receive their winner’s cheque. Nitu Ghanghas (48kg), Paris Olympics-bound duo of Nikhat Zareen (52kg) and Lovlina Borgohain (75kg), and Saweety Boora (81kg) became world champions in the March 15-26 competition that saw participation from 65 nations. They were handed dummy cheques after the medal ceremony but are still awaiting actual cheques from the International Boxing Association (IBA).

Nikhat Zareen in action(PTI)

The winner’s prize money in the elite competition was $100,000 and the total prize purse was $2.4 million. India ended the competition on top with four medals, all gold. The aggrieved boxers have sent multiple reminders to the IBA over the past year but haven’t received a convincing answer.

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Ghanghas, who is also the reigning Commonwealth Games champion, has written four letters to IBA so far — in November, January, April, and May — requesting for her prize money. She is yet to get a written response. The letters, in possession with HT, were addressed to IBA president Umar Kremlev and copied to Ajay Singh, president of the Boxing Federation of India (BFI).

Ghanghas also won the Strandja Memorial competition in Sofia, Bulgaria in February 2022 and is yet to receive the cheque of $4000.

“IBA honoured the winners of the competition by a dummy cheque but has not provided the amount till date. It is injustice to the boxers and the whole boxing family,” she wrote on May 14 this year, her most recent reminder.

“Nitu comes from a very humble background and the prize money will certainly help her in terms of access to better training equipment, nutritional supplements and quality of life. I urge BFI to step in and facilitate the disbursement of the deserved prize money,” Ghanghas’ coach from the famed Bhiwani Boxing Club, Jagdish Singh, said.

“We have had verbal discussions with top BFI officials but no one seems to have a clue,” Singh, who is credited with guiding Vijender Singh to the Olympics bronze in 2008 Beijing Games, added.

Ghanghas, who is employed with Reserve Bank of India as an Assistant Manager, is the sole earning member in her family of five. Her father, Jai Bhagwan, was relieved of his services as a bill messenger in Haryana assembly last year.

“She is part of the TOPS Development group, which assures her of a monthly allowance of Rs. 25,000. But running a family of five all by herself while concentrating on her training is not easy. It definitely plays on her mind,” Jai Bhagwan said.

Boora said she has lost all hopes of getting her prize money. “Usually, we get the money in 6-8 months but this is taking unusually long. I don’t know if I will ever get it. I have had conversations in BFI and IBA but haven’t received a solid response yet,” Boora, who is an Income Tax Officer, said.

“The supplements alone cost me around 30,000 and there are other nutritional and training needs. I have been managing it through my salary but it is not easy,” said Boora who is not covered under TOPS.

BFI said they are in correspondence with IBA and are hoping for a resolution soon.

“We understand the seriousness of this issue and are working to reach a solution. We have served several reminders to them. Just last month, Deepak Bhoria won IBA Champions’ Night in Madrid by beating local favourite Martin Molina. Even he was sent home with just a dummy cheque,” federation’s Executive Director Colonel Arun Malik said.

BFI has joined IOC-backed World Boxing but hasn’t formally broken ties with IBA yet. Ajay Singh, in fact, remains the vice-president of IBA.

“It’s not fair to suggest that BFI will not have a voice in IBA anymore. We will do the best we can for our boxers,” Malik said.

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