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Between the bouts at bus terminus
- Traffic-stopping shift of venue for national sub-junior boxing championship

If you can’t bring the crowds to the sport, take the sport to the crowds. This is the thinking behind a national-level boxing championship being hosted bang in the middle of a bus terminus in Howrah.

Welcome to the 18th edition of the National Sub-Junior Boxing Championship being hosted by the Bengal Amateur Boxing Federation, in association with the Bijoykrishna Smriti Samiti. The finals, to be slugged out on Tuesday, will be held in a proper arena near Rashbehari Avenue. But for the preliminaries, a busy bus terminus at Shibpur’s Mandirtala was one of three prime venues.

The championship had got off to a ‘silent’ start inside a proper ring — at the Howrah Municipal Corporation stadium — but the lack of crowds engineered a shift in venue, Federation president Asit Banerjee announced on Monday. “The crowds just refused to come to the stadium and it was a sorry sight, watching the best boxers at this level fist it out with absolutely no one caring to watch,” Banerjee recounted. “We started looking for an alternative and, to our relief, a local club came to our rescue,” he added, explaining how the minibus terminus at Mandirtala had been turned into a makeshift Madison Square Garden.

While a huge crowd of curious onlookers has been gathering around the ring for some action, pedestrians and drivers are grumbling. The minibuses, forced out of their terminus, are now parked near the Mandirtala end of Vidyasagar Setu. And the roadshow in the ring has compounded the car chaos at one end of Vidyasagar Setu.

Howrah superintendent of police Rajesh Kumar admitted that the boxing bouts should not have come off at a bus terminus close to the flyover. “I will first check whether the show had the necessary police permission and then ensure there is no repeat of this nonsense in future,” he added.

But the organisers appeared pleased as punch by the popular response. Federation president Banerjee said his “experiment” was a success and promised repeats.

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