The AIBA Women’s World Boxing Championship returned to India after 12 years as the 10th edition commenced at the KD Jadhav Indoor Stadium in New Delhi. Eight new nations from four Confederations are making their debut in this edition of World Boxing. Previously 102 nations from all of the five Confederations participated in the nine editions of the World Championships.
The AIBA World Boxing Championships was first held in 1974 at Havana in Cuba as a Men’s only event and the first Women’s championships was held 25 years later in 2001at Scranton in United States. Russia lies at the top of the medal tally with a total of 53 medals followed by China with 40 medals. India lies third on the table with 28 medals.
The highlight of the 10th edition is the participation of Scotland, Malta, Bangladesh, Cayman Islands, DR Congo, Mozambique, Sierra Leone and Somalia for the first time. The participants of almost all countries arrived a week before to get themselves acclimatized to the conditions. “I am happy all the boxers had a wonderful time during their practice sessions. It was a priority for us as we were committed to take care of this aspect, providing them with similar conditions that are prevailing in the championships,” said Ajay Singh, president of Boxing Federation of India (BFI).
The strong boxing team of Scotland comprising 19-year-old Victoria Glover in 57kg, Stephanie Kernachan in 51kg and Megan Reid in 64kg is fighting for the top honours. Scotland formed its women’s Boxing team some years before but they never participated in AIBA Championships.
Another European country to debut is Malta with Australian-based Skye Falzon representing in the Women’s Championships. Malta’s last appearance was in Milan in 2009 where they participated in World Championships in the men’s elite competition.
Bangladesh, that launched their women’s boxing program a few years ago, has three women boxers making their debuts at the world level here. This neighbouring country of India participated in the last edition of South Asian Games.
Cayman Islands, a new entrant to women’s boxing from America, is represented by 20 years old Brandy Barnes. Four nations from the African Boxing Confederation- Congo, Mozambique, Sierra Leone and Somalia are also making their debut in this event. The Somalian debutant is Ramla Ali, who formerly represented England. But now she has changed her nationality and is fighting for her home country.
Although the scale of participation is making this event the biggest single-discipline event after the FIFA Youth World Cup held in 2017, it is merged with controversy. Along with the eight debutant nation, there was another country that was also set to debut here. Kosovo- the Balkan country- that first appeared as a sporting nation in the 2016 Olympics, could not register its name in this New Delhi edition. Kosovo boxer Donjeta Sadiku has not got a visa to travel to the national capital since India does not recognise Kosovo. This is the second time in less than a year that India has denied Sadiku the right to compete in the country.
India’s denial of a visa to Sadiku and her two coaches will surely hamper India’s chances for gaining international events in the future. The International Olympic Committee (IOC), which gave full membership to Kosovo in 2014, is set to send a letter to all member federations asking them not to give international events to countries that cannot ensure the participation of all nations. It is to be noted that Kosovo is recognized by 113 out of the 193 United Nations members.
However, keeping aside this controversy, the opening ceremony of the 2018 AIBA Women’s World Boxing Championships took place in style in New Delhi. Boxers flying the flags of the 62 competing countries paraded around the two gleaming rings of the KD Jadhav Indoor Stadium at the Indira Gandhi Sport Complex.
India’s Mary Kom who remains the most successful boxer in Women’s World Boxing Championships till date, and Somalia’s Ramla Ali swore the boxer’s oath on behalf of the 277 athletes taking part on the event. AIBA President Mr Gafur Rahimov declared the championships open. “The 2018 AIBA Women’s World Championships is really important for us, as women’s boxing development is a central part of AIBA’s DNA. But it is also important to remember that we are starting a new era at boxing. One that is focused on ensuring that our athletes are provided with the necessary support to achieve greatness in and out of the ring”, said Rahimov.