Faced with the mammoth task of reviving the sagging fortunes of Indian boxing, newly-elected Boxing India president Sandeep Jajodia said the sport had been left "orphaned" in the last couple of years and he would bring it back on track with clean administration.
Jajodia was elected unopposed as President of Boxing India, which replaced the terminated Indian Amateur Boxing Federation, in elections conducted under the supervision of the international body AIBA.
AIBA will take another couple of days to grant Boxing India provisional recognition before India's formal re-induction into the international body happens in November, ending nearly two years of suspension.
Jajodia is the chairman and MD of Monnet Ispat Group which has been the chief sponsor of Indian boxing for the last six years.
Speaking to PTI after his election, he denied allegations of conflict of interest, presented a blueprint for the future and promised a financial windfall for boxers, who have been denied international exposure due to the federation's termination resulting in dipping medal counts.
"I took up this challenge because boxing had gone down significantly ever since the federation got suspended in December 2012. Being the chief sponsor, I was watching everything and something had to be done to bring the sport out of this abyss. The athletes were suffering and that was the saddest bit. For the time being, I can tell them that hopefully they would get to compete under the Indian flag in the Asian Games," Jajodia said.
"For the future, I promise a transparent administrative structure which would ensure better governance of the sport. I would decentralise the power. In the earlier set-up, the power was concentrated at the top. This made state units and also the boxers feel left out and orphaned. I would get hem involved in everything," he explained.
"I was approached by these very people to take up this job. Even the boxers came to me and asked me to take up the responsibility, such was the extent of disillusionment. I hope I live up to their expectations," he said.
Asked about allegations of conflict of interest given that he also heads the company which sponsors Indian boxing, Jajodia said he would do all he can to get rid of the "false perception" that he stands to gain anything inappropriately from this new responsibility.
"There is no conflict of interest in my position. I am accountable to the people who have elected me. It is not as if I would be taking decisions alone. Every decision will be collective and I would myself not be a part of proceedings when there can be any question of conflict of interest," he said.
"These elections were conducted via secret ballot under the supervision of an AIBA observer. This election itself is the beginning of a new administrative system in Indian boxing because for the first time, secret ballot was used," he added.
Jajodia said his immediate focus is to conduct the National Championships, which have not happened for the last two years.
"The women's event will be held first from October 11 or 12 in Raipur, Chattisgarh. The men's event will follow from October 26 in Dehradun. That's the immediate concern because not having the National Championships has ruined the talent pool," he said.
Also the World Series of Boxing, from which the India franchise withdrew two years ago apparently due to lack of support from the federation, is all set to be revived, Jajodia promised.
"We still have the franchise, all we need to do is to bring back the event back to India, which will happen," he assured.
Spelling out his vision for the sport, Jajodia said as President of BI, he would ensure that more money flows in to make the boxers a financially happy lot.
"I will have a meeting with all the stakeholders and put in place a set-up which would be held accountable. A position means responsibility in this new set up. AIBA has a very strong competitive structure and I would ensure that our boxers get good participation whether it is the WSB or the AIBA Professional Boxing. I want state units to be more active in identifying talent so that they can be groomed for such competitions.
"Also, the sponsorship needs to go up so that boxing can be marketed well. Besides, development of coaches and referees is also something we will focus on with a plan. In addition, I have to ensure that better infrastructure is put in place.
Academies like the NIS, Patiala need to come up in every district. All these are my medium and long-term goals," he explained.
On to some controversies, most notably, the opposition that Boxing India has faced from the IOA, which refused to acknowledge it as the provisional body, Jajodia said he is not anticipating any trouble given that elections have passed off smoothly.
"I would have never attached my name with something that was not acceptable because I am also a businessman. So I am not anticipating any problem now. Better days are ahead for the sport," he signed off.