Can the Indian boxers put the Tokyo horror show behind at Men's World Championships?
A 13-member strong contingent sans the Tokyo Olympians will represent India in Men's Boxing World Championships at Belgrade.
While two women – MC Mary Kom and Lovlina Borgohain, has since bagged a medal for the country in the quadrennial event, no other man has been able to replicate Vijender's heroics. Though the Indian pugilists have won accolades at various other events, the Olympics success continue to elude them.
In the more recently held 2020 Tokyo Olympics, four Indian male boxers out of five were knocked out after their very first bout in the tournament. This also included World Number 1 Amit Panghal going down against Columbia's Martinez Rivas without even putting up a fight in the pre-quarterfinal of the flyweight division.
On the other hand, the veteran Vikas Krishan was reported to have fought with a shoulder injury while the young Manish Kaushik and Ashish Kumar too failed to impress. It was a total disaster, with the only saving grace being Satish Kumar entering the quarterfinals of the superheavyweight category.
But with more of the focus on Lovlina Borgohain winning the bronze in the women's section, the Indian men escaped the large scale scrutiny and criticisms which the shooters from the country were subjected to.
Now just two months after their horror show in Tokyo, the Boxing Federation of India (BFI) has sent a 13-member strong contingent sans the Tokyo Olympians to Belgrade for the Men's Boxing World Championships.
The squad has got a complete makeover, with Shiva Thapa, Deepak Kumar and Sanjeet being the only experienced names in the contingent. But out of the 13 pugilists, the 27-year-old Thapa is the only one in the contingent who has competed at the World Championships before.
After the Tokyo flop show, the fans and the federation alike are looking for fresh faces by the time the 2024 Paris Games arrives and there can certainly not be a bigger opportunity for these youngsters to force themselves into the limelight.
Additionally, the pressure will also be on High-Performance Director Santiago Nivea who had helped the Indian boxers prepare ahead of Tokyo and the newly appointed head coach Narendra Rana to prove their worth.
Govind Sahani (48kg), Ashish Kumar (51kg), Akash (54kg), Rohit Mor (57kg), Varinder Singh (60kg), Shiva Thapa (64kg), Akash (67kg), Nishant Dev (71kg), Sumit (75kg), Sachin Kumar (80kg), Lakshya (86kg), Sanjeet (92kg), Narender (+92kg)