Events inside a boxing ring took a sharp political turn shortly after Indian pugilist Vijender Singh clinched the title against his Chinese opponent. Singh said he did not want to retain the belt and offered it to his rival so as to ease the ongoing India-China border tensions.
The situation in some parts of the lengthy frontier between India and China has constantly worsened in recent months. Both sides have stepped up their military readiness in the border areas, and engaged in a war of words.
In this surcharged political atmosphere, Singh took on Chinese national Zulpikar Maimaitiali at the WBO Oriental super middleweight boxing match on Saturday (5 August). The Indian won the contest with the three judges unanimously ruling in his favour. In front of a packed and boisterous audience in India's business capital Mumbai, the 31-year-old Singh beat his rival 96-93, 95-94, 95-94 in a thrilling 10-round match.
But, soon after the victory, Singh said he wanted to return the title to his opponent as a peace offering.
"To India-China friendship (I dedicate my title), because tension on the border is not good, because I see on social media, news, it keeps getting on and on and that's not good. I give this title to people, peace, it's all about friendship, Hindi-Chini bhai bhai (Indians and Chinese are brothers)," Singh, an Olympic bronze medallist, told reporters afterwards. This was his ninth successive win in his professional career.
"The fight was really good, I didn't expect (it will go all the way), it was 10 rounds, at times the Chinese products last a little long, and it was an amazing fight and fun! The fight was tough and a lot of blood oozed out, but finally win was ours, it was nice," Singh added.