How three Indian boxers were 'robbed' at London Olympics

Written by: Sreekumar Narayan
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The Indian contingent will return from the 2012 London Games with at least 4 Olympic medals - a silver and three bronze - but there is still lingering frustration over the three pugilists who did not get their due.

Indian Boxers

On Aug 3, Vikas Krishan was declared the winner of his bout against Errol Spence of the USA. The score was 13-11 in the Indian's favour. However, the Americans protested that Spence had landed more punches and also accused Krishan of "fighting to the computer system".

On watching video footage of the men's Welter (69 kg) round of 16 match, the Competition Jury observed that Spence should have been awarded four additional points for fouls committed by Krishan. Accordingly, the International Boxing Association (AIBA) overturned the decision five hours later.

India's counter appeal was not upheld by the AIBA since the jury had already reviewed the bout. A complaint was then lodged with the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), pointing out that fouls committed by Errol Spence in round two and three were not considered by AIBA.

Unfortunately, CAS dashed India's hopes by stating, "There is no provision in the AIBA Technical and Competition Rules allowing for an appeal against the decision of the Competition Jury in relation to a Protest. The decision of the Competition Jury is final and cannot be appealed."

Krishan's teammate Manoj Kumar, a Commonwealth Games gold-medallist, too failed to reach the last 8 when the referees awarded more points to home favourite Thomas Stalker during a pre-quarter final bout in the 64 kg category.

Afterwards, the dismayed Indian boxer pointed out that Stalker "was going in one direction and the scores 7-4 and 9-4 to him don't justify that. 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."

Kumar's coach Blas Iglesias Fernandez, a native of Cuba, agreed with this assessment. "The last round was 7-4 (to Kumar). Why no other rounds? All rounds were the same. It was very poor judging," Fernandez said.

To a specific query whether Kumar had been "robbed" of a win, the coach replied in the affirmative. However, India did not appeal in Kumar's case.

On Aug 8, it was the turn of Devendro Singh to be at the receiving end of contentious decisions. Though the 20-year-old gave his all against Irish boxer Paddy Barnes in the light flyweight (49 kg) quarter-final bout, the latter was adjudged to have won 23-18.

Fernandez could not contain his dismay this time. "There were so many mistakes against our boxers. He (Barnes) was not hitting the right spots and still getting points. It was not fair. The refereeing was poor, not only in this bout but many other Indian bouts. It is very sad, but we have to live with it," he rued.

According to another coach Gurbax Singh Sandhu, sometimes referees go with the crowd. Evidently, the same thing happened in Devendro's bout.

His loss meant that not even one of our male boxers reached the last 4. MC Mary Kom's bronze is the only consolation for India.

Nevertheless, the county can be proud of Devendro Singh, Manoj Kumar and Vikas Krishan. The trio fought gallantly and were it not for the referees, all three would have won medals probably.

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