In Nepali boxing the fight is not in the ring and the sport suffersBoxing association president’s old dispute with the general secretary and treasurer over its running resurfaces over latest financial report.
Nepal Boxing Association's (NBA) infighting has surfaced once again as some influential office bearers have made claims of financial irregularities and power abuse by the body’s president.
General Secretary Sabin Bhattachary and Treasurer Gautam Sujakhu have accused President Ram Awale of acting against the spirit of the law and called him “an incapable person” to lead the body.
The fight between the two sides started in 2018 but resurfaced last week after President Awale produced a financial report during the executive committee meeting on July 30 and asked Sujakhu to sign it.
"The president wanted us (me and the treasurer) to endorse the financial report that he produced in the meeting. But we are not aware of any transactions in the NBA and we are not consulted in any affairs. So I proposed to him that he give me the details of transactions and a few days' time so that I get time to study it before I sign,” said general secretary Bhattacharya. “But he said the majority of the executive committee had already endorsed it so why did I need to study it."
Sujakhu not only rejected the president's proposal but also asked him to reinstate him as the executive treasurer and produce him the details of financial transactions. The report had been endorsed by a majority of the 25-member executive committee although general secretary Bhattacharya had walked out of the meeting after he was verbally abused by the president’s supporters and was not allowed to express his discontent.
Sujakhu and Bhattacharya have complained to the National Sports Council and the Ministry of Youth and Sports appealing them not to endorse the financial report that has been submitted without the signature of treasurer and also to check into irregularities at the NBA.
The dispute between the two sides goes back to August 2018 when President Awale appointed Ram Giri, an executive committee member, as acting treasurer at NBA.
“The president had wanted me to release funds for the Nepali boxers' training in Thailand. But the executive committee had made a decision that the funds could be released only after approval from the committee. I asked him to get the approval,” said Sujakhu.
Instead Awale appointed acting treasurer Ram Giri, a member of the executive committee.
“There is no provision of acting treasurer, but backed by the executive committee the president took the consent of the National Sports Council leadership to one,” said Sujakhu.
The president used a provision in the statute which gives him the authority to take steps to resolve any unforeseen circumstances in the operation of the NBA and appointed an acting treasurer.
“Sujakhu refused to sign cheques despite repeated requests and at that time we were preparing for the 2018 Asian Games. I had no choice but to appoint Giri as the acting treasurer with consent from the National Sports Council,” Awale said.
The Association has not held a single annual general assembly, as mandated by its statute, in the four years since the committee was elected in June 2016.
In the last two years, 24 new district associations have been formed — 14 with approval from the president and 10 from general secretary — taking the total number of district associations to 50.
According to Bhattacharya, of the 24 new district associations, fewer than a dozen are active. But the district association was given approval for the sake of getting support from them during elections for the executive committee.
"Of the 14 district associations endorsed by the president, only four are active. In the capacity of general secretary, I have also endorsed 10 district associations and four of them are not active. If the President approves new district associations for election purposes then why can't I?" said Bhattacharya. "I have proposed that only active district associations be given membership. I can assure you that I won't be fighting for the presidency in the next election."
The NBA should have held its election in June this year, as the four year tenure of present executive has expired. But the election has been postponed, owing to the global coronavirus pandemic.
The president, a businessman and a former boxer, blames Bhattacharya and Sujakhu, also former boxers, as the persons responsible for not letting the NBA conduct the annual general assembly. When asked how, he could not give a satisfactory answer.
"There are a lot of sports associations in the country which do not hold their annual general assemblies. Now I understand why they do not. It is because a few people with wrong motives do not let it happen," Awale said.
Bhattacharya denies the allegations and instead blames the president for not letting the NBA conduct its general assembly.
"I had even proposed to hold a general assembly at an executive committee meeting in early 2018. But the president feared that he would face a no-confidence motion and therefore he was uninterested,” said Bhattacharya. “The executive committee had sought clarification from him in December 2017. If the president says he could not hold a general assembly because of someone else, it raises a big question mark regarding his ability."
With this infighting within the Nepal Boxing Association, the game suffers.
“When the commander fights, it will definitely hamper the whole team. In fact, Nepali boxers are going to suffer due to this rift within the association,” said Prachanda Sharma, former head coach at NBA. “Under Awale's leadership, the NBA has not organised a single tournament under its banner. It is very disappointing for Nepali boxing.”
Not only coaches but also boxing administrators are worried about the sport’s development.
“All this will have a negative impact on the development and promotion of the boxing sector,” said Deepak Gurung, a former general secretary of NBA. “It will have a direct impact on policy making, in the development of new players, organising tournaments, finding sponsors and much more.”