New Delhi: The Indian franchise in the much-anticipated professional-style World Series of Boxing was dealt a blow today with owners Videocon deciding to back out of the event citing "unavoidable circumstances" but the Federation said it would find a new sponsor.
The Indian team `Delhi Tigers` comprised five home-grown stars -- Olympic bronze medallist Vijender Singh, Commonwealth Games gold medallist Akhil Kumar, Commonwealth champions Dinesh Kumar and Jai Bhagwan and Asian bronze medalist Jitender Kumar -- besides nine international boxers.
A German coach Mirko Wolf had also been hired for the team but the entire build-up ended up being an exercise in futility with Videocon backing out.
"Videocon has pulled out and we are looking for a new sponsor now. The team remains the same, even the foreign boxers we had signed," Indian Boxing Federation Secretary General P K Muralidharan Raja told reporters.
The team was supposed to start its campaign against Astana (Kazakhstan) on November 19 but franchise owners Videocon have sent out a mail to the boxers informing them that they were backing out of the event.
"This is to inform you that due to unavoidable circumstances, the Delhi Tigers - World Series of Boxing India Franchise will no longer be a part of the AIBA and IMG promoted World Series of Boxing," the franchise`s General Manager Moin Merchant said in a mail sent to the boxers who
are part of the team.
"Hence, we would no longer require your services towards the franchise in the form of a boxer/coach as the franchise currently ceases to exist," the brief mail adds.
Col Raja said the opening India bouts in the WSB will go ahead as scheduled and the federation is in touch with the International Boxing Association on the matter.
"We have told AIBA about it and assured them that the event will go ahead as scheduled. The Delhi franchise will remain and we will find a new sponsor," he said.
"I really don`t know why Videocon has pulled out," he added.
But sources told reporters that the company was upset with the boxers` reluctance to sign contracts which gave the company exclusive rights over them for a three-year period.
"They wanted the boxers to be exclusively theirs for a period of three years which was not acceptable to some. The Indian Boxing Federation already has a marketing partner in the Percept group and the agreement with Videocon would have created problems on that front," a source said.
"If this is happening, it is a big blow to Indian boxing because it would have been an excellent platform for our boxers to make a name for themseleves," said one of the boxers who got the mail.