NEW DELHI, INDIA (AFP) – Indian boxer Vijender Singh has offered to return the championship belt he won in this weekend’s title fight over his Chinese rival in a nod to diplomacy amid a tense border standoff between New Delhi and Beijing.
The Olympic-bronze medallist extended the olive branch to Zulpikar Maimaitiali after defeating the Chinese champ in the much-anticipated double-title pro bout in Mumbai on Saturday.
The win saw the 31-year-old Indian pugilist retain not just his WBO Asia Pacific super middleweight title but snatch the super middleweight belt from his Chinese opponent.
But the newly-crowned champ buried the hatchet after the fight, dedicating his victory to the “India-China friendship” and calling for an end to the distrust that has flared up over a border disagreement.
“I want to give back this belt to Zulpikar. I hope for peace in the border and the message is about peace. That is most important,” Singh was quoted as saying by the Press Trust of India.
Want to dedicate this victory towards peace and harmony between India and China! Jai hind 🇮🇳 pic.twitter.com/O7yt5AjypV
— Vijender Singh (@boxervijender) August 5, 2017
Indian and Chinese troops have been locked in a standoff at a remote but strategically important Himalayan plateau near where Tibet, India and Bhutan meet.
The plateau gives China access to the so-called “chicken neck” — a thin strip of land connecting India’s northeastern states with the rest of the country.
The row has festered for more than a month as India and China refuse to back down in the distant but key territory.
Mistrust between the giant neighbors goes back centuries with the pair having fought a brief war in 1962 in India’s border state of Arunachal Pradesh.
While Zulpikar believes the message of his victory is about peace, others of his countrymen appear to have taken a different lesson from the match.
— Pankaj Pachauri (@PankajPachauri) August 6, 2017
— Pradeep Sa Bhati (@pradeepsabhati) August 6, 2017
— Swami Ramdev (@yogrishiramdev) August 5, 2017
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