Olympics: Manoj controversy dominates lean morning for India

London, Aug 5: It was a lean morning for Indian participants here on Day 9 of the Olympic Games, but controversies continued to dog their campaign in the ring with Manoj Kumar falling by the wayside after losing a close pre- quarterfinal bout and then crying foul.

The 64kg fighter came out of the ring and said he was cheated after the verdict went 20-16 in favour of his British opponent, Thomas Stalker, in a thrilling bout at the ExCel Arena here late last night. The 26-year-old Manoj fought well, but appeared to be distinctly unlucky not to get points, before exploding with his mouth.

"It doesn't look fair because he was going in one direction and the scores 7-4 and 9-4 to him don't justify that," the dejected Commonwealth Games gold-medallist said.

"It doesn't look like an Olympic Games but more like a district competition because if it's Great Britain in the ring, it doesn't matter who's against them. It's like a district competition where there's lots of cheating, cheating, cheating," he added.

India's Cuban coach Blas Iglesias Fernandez agreed that Manoj was robbed of victory as he should have got the verdict in his favour in the first two rounds as well as he fought in the same manner.

"The last round was 7-4 (to Kumar). Why no other rounds? All rounds were the same. It was very poor judging," he said. On whether his boxer was "robbed", Fernandez said "I think so."

Stalker won the first round 7-4 and maintained his lead by winning the second round 9-5. The Indian then launched an all-out attack in the third and last round, which he claimed 7-4, but some debatable judging ultimately saw him leave the arena disappointed.

National coach Gurbaksh Singh Sandhu said, "My athlete was extraordinary. You saw for yourself what happened. Why don't you write what you want?"

The Indian authorities, however, did not lodge a protest against the verdict.

Stalker, on the other hand, said he was happy with the result but felt he did not box as well as he could.

"All I wanted to do was fight. In my next bout I know I will do better. I felt sluggish after the first round. Being in my hotel for the last week hasn't done me any good," Stalker said.

"I just wanted to get the first fight out of the way. The fans got me through it. Being an Olympian is special. It was a tough fight and I felt I didn't really box too well but a win is a win," he said.

"I felt like I needed to move my feet a bit more. The last round was not good. I think I went a bit more negative in the last round when I could have been more positive."

On his opponent questioning the judges' decision, he said, "I have had fights when I thought I had won by more than I eventually won by. I just leave it to the judges. I would like to thank everyone who supported me."

The Indians have been at the wrong side of judges at the ongoing Games, losing a protest filed against Sumit Sangwan's (81kg) first-round exit.

Later, Vikas Krishan (69kg) was ousted despite being declared a winner initially after his American opponent won an appeal against his triumph.


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