Following in the footsteps of cricket, football and kabaddi, boxing is all set to roll out its own franchise-based league. The Boxing Federation of India (BFI) will run the tournament, called Big Bout-Indian Boxing League from July 20 to August 11 this year.
The league will feature six city-based teams, comprising Indian and foreign boxers.
There will be seven weight categories; five for men—52kg, 57kg, 69kg, 75kg, and 91kg, and two — 51 kg and 60kg — for women.
“We have been waiting for the league for a long time. We are excited to be part of it.” said Asian championship silver medalist Kavinder Singh Bisht.
Each franchise will have 14 boxers, including one professional boxer, and eight of those fighters will have to be Indian. One of the 14 will be a junior Indian boxer who will not be competing. The boxers will be selected through an auction/draft process likely to take place next month, and the BFI has written to various national federations, inviting their boxers to participate in draft.
“The league is going to popularise the sport in the country, and it’s the need of the hour,” said Rajesh Bhandari, vice-president, BFI, and director of coaching. “It will benefit our boxers to have a decent competition exposure before the World Championship. It will also help the boxers in getting monetary benefits.”
The World Championships, which will be held in September in Russia, will act as a qualifier for the 2020 Tokyo Games.
In its inaugural year, the league will be held in three cities—Delhi, Guwahati and Pune.
Delhi-based sports management company Sportzlive, which runs the Badminton Premier League, owns the rights for the boxing league.