Boxing: The Royal Bhutan Army (RBA) has dominated boxing in Bhutan. Since the establishment of the Bhutan Boxing Federation (BBF) in 1983, soldiers of RBA represented the country in several international boxing competitions, including the first South Asian Games in Nepal in 1984.

Although, there are no professional boxers in the country yet, efforts are underway to make the local boxers competent and professionalise the sport. BBF and the Bhutan Olympic Committee (BOC) are working to popularise boxing as a sport among civilians and to encourage more participation in the game.

In an effort to promote the sport, BOC and BBF are organising a 15-day Inter-Wing Boxing Championship in Thimphu. A total of 68 boxers from the RBA will take part in the competition that begins from today.

Eight units (wings) of the RBA will compete in nine weight categories over the two weeks at the Royal Institute of Management hall. Each fight will consist of three rounds of three minutes.

Officials from the BOC said that since the advent of boxing in the country, the sport has been confined only to army personnel. “Over the time, BOC has recognised lots of potential boxers outside the army,” said an official. “This championship should provide a platform for enthusiasts to take up boxing and possibly as a career.”

However, lack of infrastructures, facilities and professional coaches hinder the growth of the sport. BOC officials said that the committee has plans to form boxing clubs in every dzongkhag and organise regional and national competitions to discover and recognise talents.

BOC gets support from the Korean Olympic Committee (KOC) in terms of technical assistance. KOC sends professional boxing coaches to train Bhutanese boxers.

Sigyel Phub, a former national boxer, runs a private boxing club in Thimphu. Started this year, Druk Thimphu Boxing Club has more than 30 members today.

“After seeing the talents of my students at the club, I believe Bhutanese have a great future in boxing,” said Sigyel Phub. “It was just that they were not given an opportunity to showcase their talents.”

Sigyel Phub and his club members will open the competition today with an exhibition fight. The fight will also feature the two women members of his club.

Meanwhile, the RBA boxers have participated in 12 international competitions and have won one gold, six silver and 42 bronze medals so far.

Younten Tshedup