Left out of the Indian team for the upcoming Boxing World Championships, reigning national champions Manju Rani, Shiksha Narwal and Poonam Poonia on Monday dragged the national federation to the Delhi High Court, seeking its intervention for their inclusion. The Delhi High Court has accepted their writ petition and will hear the matter on Tuesday.
In their writ petition, the three boxers argued that all the gold medallists at the national championships held in December 2022 at Bhopal, were selected except them. "...the petitioners have requested the relevant authorities for considering their names for selection in women's world championship, but they did not get any fruitful results," they wrote.
"When the nine other boxers (who won the nationals) got direct qualification then why haven't we three from Railways got it," Manju, who won a silver at the 2019 World Championships, said during an interaction with PTI.
"We wrote to the BFI and haven't got a reply from them as yet," she added. The Boxing Federation of India (BFI) maintains that winning a gold medal at the Nationals was not a criteria to pick the team.
According to BFI, the new selection policy for the men's and women's World Championships and the Asian Games was followed to pick the national team and Manju (48kg), Shiksha (54kg) and Poonam (60kg) could not make it to the 12-member side.
According to the new policy, drafted in consultation with High Performance Director (HPD) Bernard Dunne, the boxers underwent an evaluation process for three weeks where they were judged on various parameters.
The boxers were "tested for performance in training to include endurance and S&C," in the first week and in the second and third weeks, "athletes were tested for technical and tactical skills during sparring sessions."
The HPD, Bhaskar Bhatt and CA Kuttapa -- the women's and men's teams' head coaches -- marked the boxers and a ranking list was made. Nine of the 12 national champions were ranked one and qualified for the marquee event.
Commonwealth Games champion Nitu Ghangas (634), Preeti (623) and CWG bronze medallist Jaismine Lamboria (612), however, finished ahead of Manju (564), Shiksha (573) and Poonam (567) in the evaluation test and were ranked one.
"We made sure all boxers know about the new selection policy, it's there on the website as well. They knew about the evaluation as well in the camp. "We even told them in hindi the criteria and the process," BFI secretary Hemanta Kalita told PTI.
"They are saying we won in nationals but the criteria has changed, a boxer has to be evaluated irrespective now. "And if they had a problem with the policy they should have said it one day 1 that 'we won't follow this'," he added.
Asked if they knew about the evaluation process, Manju said, "We were told about the assessment during the camp but while sparring etc we were not told we are being judged at that moment."
"Some of the girls who have been selected didn't even compete in the nationals, so what was the point of conducting the nationals," she added, referring to Nitu. Earlier, BFI held trials ahead of all major tournaments to pick national teams.