Row hits Asiad as boxer knocked out by judges

Row hits Asiad as boxer knocked out by judges

Row hits Asiad as boxer knocked out by judges

Punching hard and defending well, India’s Laishram Sarita Devi was moments away from a gold medal bout at the 17th Asian Games, but a baffling decision by the judges left her in tears as controversy hit the ring here on Tuesday.

Sarita, fighting South Korea’s Park Jina in the women’s lightweight (57-60kg) semifinal, was clearly the dominant fighter in the four rounds but referee Kheira Hammad Siri hoisted the hand of the Korean at the bell.

The decision by judges Mohamed Braham (Tunisia), Albino Foti (Italy) and Mariusz Gorny (Poland) to award Park a 3-0 victory left the Indian officials and fans in complete disbelief.
“These guys (judges) have killed boxing,” said Sarita’s husband Chonestham Thoiba Singh, mincing no words at what he called was blatant nepotism.

“Everyone who has watched the bout can easily tell who the winner was. I still can’t believe what they were watching. I feel the judges have been bought and the decision has been fixed.” A teary-eyed Sarita said her years of hard work was quashed in eight minutes.

“I hope this never happens to anybody else. I’ve worked so hard to get to this stage and now they’ve robbed me of a certain victory. If it was a close match, then understandable, but I completely dominated and they do this.

“I’m married with a young kid. I had to make plenty of sacrifices to get to this stage. There were days when I couldn’t meet my little one. I fought with my heart out but to no avail. I’ve got some bad decisions but this is the worst among all. It’s complete injustice and as long as such tainted judges exist, boxing will never grow.

Can someone tell me how the Korean won,” asked Sarita, who won a silver medal at the Glasgow Commonwealth Games.The International Boxing Association (AIBA) is headed by a Korean, Kim Young Soo, and India is not the only country that feels cheated.

Mongolia wrote to Kim highlighting the errors in judgment, and was even contemplating pulling out their boxers from the event.

After much deliberation, India filed a protest paying $500 but was rejected by AIBA, which said that judges’ decision was final and binding.

“They said they reviewed the bout but according to Article 8.4, the decision made by the judges cannot be protested. It’s a ridiculous rule but that’s the way it is,” national coach Gurbax Singh Sandhu said. Coach B I Fernandes, who felt the verdict was fixed, said:

“Why make people fight when you have already elected a winner.  Why go through the harrowing fight. This pain is more hurting than the punches thrown at. I’ve seen boxing for a very, very long time and until we get a good and clean decision-making system in place, the sport is not going anywhere.”

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