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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 17 December 2018

Indian boxer Vijender Singh offers to trade title for peace with China

Olympic bronze medallist extends olive branch to Zulpikar Maimaitiali after beating Chinese champion in Mumbai bout on Saturday.

Indian boxer and WBO Asia-Pacific Super Middleweight champion Vijender Singh, centre, celebrates after winning the double title bout against China's Zulpikar Maimaitiali at the National Sports Complex of India Dome in Mumbai on Saturday. Punit Paranjpe / AFP
Indian boxer and WBO Asia-Pacific Super Middleweight champion Vijender Singh, centre, celebrates after winning the double title bout against China's Zulpikar Maimaitiali at the National Sports Complex of India Dome in Mumbai on Saturday. Punit Paranjpe / 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 champion 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 champion 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.

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"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," Vijender was quoted as saying by the Press Trust of India.

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 north-eastern 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 neighbours goes back centuries with the pair having fought a brief war in 1962 in India's border state of Arunachal Pradesh.