Indian boxer beats China rival then offers belt back to heal border rift

An Indian boxer won a title fight against a Chinese opponent before offering to hand back the prize as a gesture of peace between the two nations which are locked in a territorial dispute in the Himalayas.

Vijender Singh beat Zulpikar Maimaitiali on points on Saturday to retain his WBO Asia Pacific super middleweight title and take his opponent’s WBO Oriental super middleweight belt.

After the unanimous verdict in Mumbai, Singh hugged Bollywood star Amitabh Bachchan and other celebrities before returning to the ring, taking the microphone and saying: “I don’t want this title, I will give it back to Zulpikar,” adding: “I don’t want tension on the border, it’s a message of peace and that’s important.”

The gesture follows a stand-off in a remote frontier region beside the Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan that has become increasingly tense.

On Thursday, China demanded India immediately remove troops from the border, accusing it of building up troops and repairing roads along its side of the border next to the Indian state of Sikkim.

The neighbours share a 3,500km frontier, large parts of which are disputed.