The much-anticipated fight for the World Boxing Organisation’s (WBO) Oriental Super Middleweight title in Mumbai took an unexpected turn on Saturday. Right after Indian boxer Vijender Singh beat China’s Zulpikar Maimaitiali in a tough 10-round fight, he offered to return his championship belt to his opponent.
“I don’t want this title. I will give it back to Zulpikar,” Vijender announced as soon as he returned to the ring after hugging Amitabh Bachchan and other celebrities, reports The Guardian.
“I don’t want tension at the border. It’s a message of peace. That’s important,” he added.
Vijender’s comments come against the backdrop of a tense stand-off between India and China in the remote frontier region, Dongland, beside the Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan recently. In June, China accused Indian guards of crossing into the region and obstructing the construction of a road on the plateau, which is near their common border. India had earlier warned China that the construction of this road would have serious implications. It will give China access to India’s vulnerable 20km wide corridor, which connects the north-eastern states to the country. After the recent stand-off, China demanded Indian troops be removed from the border.
It is unclear as of now whether Zulpikar has responded to Vijender’s offer, or if returning the belt was okayed by the officials. However, Vijender’s heartfelt gesture to promote cross-border peace has been praised by many on social media.