The year 2019 has been a pretty hectic one for Indian boxers (both men and women). The Boxing Federation of India (BFI) has been engaging our men and women pugilists across multiple international competitions and overseas training camps this year – a move that needs to be lauded as nothing can beat real-time ring contests and top-quality sessions with top-notch sparring partners. Indian boxers have undertaken as many as 12 international tours in 2019 – the first foreign tour of the Indian boxers was Bulgaria, where they competed at the Strandja Memorial Boxing Tournament.
Subsequently, Indian pugilists also toured countries such as Iran, Finland, Poland, Thailand (twice in 2019 – first for the Asian Championship and later for the Thailand Open), Kazakhstan and Indonesia besides undertaking training tours of Germany, Ireland, Italy and Korea. Clearly, our boxers have been kept ‘busy’ in the ring by the slew of international tourneys. And now with the 2020 Tokyo Olympics less than a year to go, the Boxing Federation of India has drawn up plans to focus ‘more on home-based training’ ahead of the marquee event.
“Our boxers are better off training in India in the lead-up to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. They have been consistently on the road this year and it can get too hectic with all the travelling that goes with it. So we are in the process of laying an ‘Olympic preparations roadmap’ – one that will focus on fewer international training sessions. We were slated to go to Colorado, USA for a training session, but dropped those plans and want to focus on training in India only,” said Boxing Federation of India High-Performance Director, Santiago Nieva.
The Swede, who took charge as High-Performance Director in September 2017 after assuming the role of Indian men’s boxing coach, said the federation is exploring the possibility of inviting top boxers from Europe and other countries to train in India ahead of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. “We have extended invitations to boxers from various countries to train with our boxers. We have to understand that we cannot force anyone to come to India and train with us, but we are hopeful about getting confirmations from these pugilists in a month or so.”
It is important to point out that Indian boxers have invariably hit their training drills at National Institute of Sports (NIS), Patiala whenever they are based in the country – something that could change going forward. “Our boxers have always been training in NIS, Patiala but come December we could shift our training base to Bengaluru-based Inspire Institute of Sport (IIS). Hopefully, a lot of foreign boxers who have been invited will train with us at the Inspire Institute of Sport – its facilities are second to none and we want to make the most of it,” observed Nieva.
It may be worth recalling that the Boxing Federation of India (BFI) earlier this year (June to be precise) had forged a five-year tie-up with JSW Group-owned Inspire Institute of Sport (IIS) to conduct camps as part of its high-performance training programme.
Of course, the exact nitty-gritty of the 2020 Tokyo Olympic preparations are yet to be hammered out, one thing is for sure – Indian boxers will not be heading abroad for long-drawn foreign training sessions. “The objective is to cut down on the lengthy training sessions as quality training is our focus area. Even if we have international trips it will be for short durations and not long-drawn ones – it all depends on when our boxers qualify for the Olympics – some may make the cut in January 2020 while some may make the cut in May 2020 – we will see how it goes,” opined the Swede.
For the record, Indian boxers (men and women) have reaped rich rewards from their participation in multiple international competitions this year, winning medals on a consistent basis – something that bodes well ahead of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. One hopes that our pugilists will maintain the ‘medal-winning momentum’ at the upcoming AIBA World Boxing Championships followed by the big one in Tokyo next year.