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Judging controversy hits world boxing championships

Last updated on: November 19, 2018 21:53 IST

Bulgarian coach suspended, boxer accuses judges of corruption on stormy day

Sonia Chahal

IMAGE: Sonia Chahal (blue) is ecstatic. Photograph: Boxing India Federation/Twitter

Bulgaria's Olympic champion boxing coach Petar Lesov was, on Monday, barred from ringside in the ongoing women's World Championship, while his ward Stanimira Petrova accused judges of 'corruption' after a hard-fought pre-quarterfinal loss to India's Sonia Chahal (57kg) in New Delhi.


On a dramatic day, a judging controversy hit the marquee event after former gold-medallist Petrova pointed a finger at the officials and her coach threw a bottle inside the ring after the bout to protest the result.

The 27-year-old Bulgarian, who was a bantamweight (54kg) gold-medallist from the 2014 edition of the event, went down in a split 2-3 verdict to the 21-year-old local hope.

"It is corruption by the judges. It is not a fair result," she told reporters after the bout.

The International Boxing Association (AIBA), after a review of the incident by its technical delegate, barred Lesov from ringside for the remainder of the tournament, which concludes on November 24.

"The AIBA has decided to remove the accreditation, and therefore the right to be in the corner, from the coach of the Bulgarian delegation Petar Yosifov Lesov due to his unacceptable behavior...," the world body said in a statement.

Lesov won the flyweight gold medal in the 1980 Olympics and has been a coach for nearly three decades.

"The International Boxing Association does not tolerate, in any circumstances, such behavior against the AIBA values and AIBA Code of Conduct, especially being a coach."

"The incident will be forwarded to the Disciplinary Commission for further review," it added.

Judging at boxing events has been a major concern for AIBA, which has even been warned by the International Olympic Committee on the issue.

In fact, the IOC has made improving the quality of judging one of the goals for AIBA to retain boxing's Olympic status heading into the 2020 Tokyo Games.

At the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Irish star Michael Conlan's expletive-laden takedown of the judging standards after a controversial semifinal loss became a catalyst for the then AIBA administration to launch an inquiry and admit lapses.

India's boxing coach questions referee's decision

Indian boxing coach Shiv Singh questioned the referee's decision to award standing counts against his wards, Sarita Devi and Saweety Boora, in the ongoing World Championships but refused to term it the reason for their losses.

Former world champion Sarita, who lost a close bout in 60kg against Kellie Harrington of Ireland in a 3-2 split decision on Sunday, faced a standing count in the third round while Saweety endured the same situation in the second round of her 75kg bout against Elzbieta Wojcik of Poland.

Saweety, a silver winner in 81kg in 2014 World Championships, lost her bout 5-0.

Singh said both Sarita and Saweety fell down not from the punches of their opponents and wondered how standing counts were done against them.

"Sarita slipped after her legs entangled with those of her opponent and it was not from a punch. In Saweety's case, she was pulled down. It was not from a point scoring punch," the coach told reporters.

"I case of Saweety, the referee was on the blind side (and so did not see it) when she fell down but still gave a standing count. In case of Sarita, the referee saw it (how Sarita fell after entangling with her opponent) but he also still went for a standing county against Sarita," he added.

Asked if the standing counts led to the loss of both Sarita and Saweety, he said, "I am not saying that (standing counts led to the losses). Win and loss are part and parcel of boxing. But it is subjective decisions of the judges. Standing counts can give pressure to judges (to give points in favour of the other boxer)."

Shiv also added that he would not know "why these kind of things were happening to Sarita", who was banned by AIBA for one year in 2014 for refusing to accept her bronze medal during the victory ceremony at the Incheon Asian Games.

On Sunday, Sarita also questioned the standing count against her while terming the decision of the judges 'ulta (opposite)'.

The 36-year-old Sarita, however, said that she will accept the decision as she does not want another ban.

"It was not a standing count. My opponent was a southpaw and her legs got entangled in between mine and I slipped and fell," she had said.

"I am not happy with the decision (of the judges). The decision has gone ulta (opposite), I thought I had the upper hand in all the three rounds. But what do I do, I was banned for one year after the 2014 Asian Games controversy. So, I cannot say anything now," the 2006 edition gold winner had said.

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