1 bronze medal each in Olympics and World Championships: Poor show continues for Indian boxers
India will return home again with just one bronze medal from the AIBA Men's Boxing World Championships following a similar show at the Tokyo Olympics.
An unprecedented 13 Indian boxers had gone on to participate at the AIBA Men's World Championships 2021 in Belgrade, the capital of Serbia. And unfortunately, out of these 13, only one, a gritty Akash Kumar, would be returning home with a bronze medal.
In the absence of the Tokyo Olympics participants, the newly-crowned national champions have failed to make any mark at the hallmark event.
Bhiwani lad, Akash, was the sole Indian pugilist who kept the tricolour fluttering by making it into the semifinals of the World Championships. The debutant, a product of the Army Institute of Pune, displayed an encouraging show despite the personal loss of his mother's death a month ago. He went on to beat the Rio 2016 Olympic silver-medallist Yoel Finol Rivas of Venezuela in the quarterfinals. But he was outwitted in the semis by the teenage reigning national champion of Kazakhstan, Makhmud Sabyrkhan.
Four other Indian boxers—Sanjeet, Narender Berwal, Shiva Thapa, and Nishant Dev, ended their campaigns after suffering losses in their respective quarter-finals bout played late on Tuesday night.
World Championships, eerily similar to the Olympics
Incidentally, three months ago, India had sent its largest boxing contingent — five men and four women — to the Tokyo Olympics. Lovlina Borgohain's bronze medal became the only satisfactory anecdote one would remember in an otherwise dull show at the showpiece event.
Handed tricky draws, the men could log just one win — through debutant super heavyweight Satish Kumar — while world No 1 Amit Panghal (52kg) was among those who lost in the opening round.
Tokyo was a marked improvement, but what about the fact that none of the men could make the medal rounds in Japan? It brought major scrutiny. Largely, the most successful Indian boxer Amit Panghal, a silver medallist at the 2019 World Championships, Asian Games gold medallist, and the top seed in Tokyo, ended his outing on a disappointing note.
With the below-par performances in Olympics, followed by the men's world championships, the Boxing Federation of India would probably be visiting the drawing board once again discussing the future of India men's boxing high performance director Santiago Nieva. The BFI had put Nieva on notice while offering him an extension for another three months till the World Championships. Akin to Nieva, his counterpart, the women's team high performance director, Rafaelle Bergamasco was also given an extension post Olympics. However, the Italian was not keen on a short-term renewal of his contract and he left his position following a fallout with BFI.
With just a month left for the Women's Boxing World Championships, the BFI would be eyeing to make a few tough calls to bury the forgettable chapter of Indian boxing.