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Indian men’s boxing team appears to be making the ‘right noises’ well ahead of the 2019 AIBA World Boxing Championships to be held at Yekaterinburg, Russia from September 7 to September 21. A close look at the performance of the Indian pugilists in the first half of 2019 is a stark reminder that our boxers are ‘making the most’ of the massive overseas tournament-cum-training exposure provided by the Boxing Federation of India (BFI).
Strandja MemorialThe 2019 Strandja Memorial Boxing Tournament held at Sofia, Bulgaria was an opportunity for the Indian men to make an ‘intent’ statement with Amit Panghal winning the gold in the 52-kg category – his first tourney since his 2018 Asian Games gold-medal effort. The next stop for the Indian men boxers was at the Makran Cup held in Chabahar, Iran, where they scooped up a rich haul of one gold, five silver and two bronze medals. Deepak Singh bagged the 49-kg category gold, while the likes of Lalitha Prasad Polipalli, Manish Kaushik, Duryodhan Singh Negi, Sanjeet and Satish Kumar won silver medals. The duo of Manjeet Singh Panghal and Rohit Tokas came home with bronze medals.
Gee Bee InternationalPerformance-wise, there was no let-up in intensity as the Indian boxers again made a splash at the 2019 Gee Bee International Boxing Tournament held at Helsinki, Finland, where India won one gold, four silver and three silver medals for a total of eight medals. Kavinder Singh Bisht stole the show winning the 56-kg category gold with Shiva Thapa (60-kg), Govind Kumar Sahani (49-kg), Hussamuddin Muhammed (56-kg) and Dinesh Dagar (69-kg) lapping up silver medals – the likes of Sumit Sangwan (91-kg), Sachin Siwach (52-kg) and Naveen Kumar (91+ kg) returned home with bronze medals. Medalists at Gee Bee Boxing Tournament
Asian ChampionshipsIndian boxers showed that their earlier performances were no flash in the pan as they dished out a scorching display at the 2019 Asian Boxing Championships in Bangkok, Thailand, where they sewed up seven medals comprising one gold, three silver and three bronze – a significant improvement over the 2017 Asian Boxing Championships where India had finished with four medals. Amit Panghal improved on his 2017 Asian Boxing Championships bronze medal-effort to bag the 52-kg category gold – it was his 52-kg debut. Kavinder Singh Bisht, Deepak Singh and Ashish Kumar won silver, while Shiva Thapa, Ashish and Satish Kumar clinched the bronze.
Felix StammIndian boxers continued its impressive run at the 2019 Felix Stamm International Boxing Tournament held at Warsaw, Poland, where Manish Kaushik and Gaurav Solanki triggered the medal rush winning the gold. Hussamuddin Mohammed picked up silver with Mandeep Jangra, Sanjeeet and Ankit Khatana pocketing bronze medals as India attained a haul of two gold, one silver and three bronze medals.
India OpenThe fact that Indian boxing is in good health was further reinforced at the India Open in Guwahati, where the hosts produced a stellar showing as India won seven gold medals via Deepak Singh (49-kg), Amit Panghal (52-kg), Shiva Thapa (60-kg), Ashish (69-kg), Naman Tanwar (91-kg), Manish Pawar (81-kg) and Satish Kumar (+91-kg) – in fact, the host wrapped up the tourney lapping up 31 medals comprising 7 gold, 10 silver and 14 bronze medals. Medalist at Asian Boxing Championship Understandably, Santiago Nieva – the High Performance Director of Indian boxing (both men and women) - credits the good run of the Indian boxers to substantial international exposure. “I think no country barring Russia and Kazakhstan figures in so many tournaments like Indian boxers. The international exposure, whether it is training stints in Korea, Germany, Italy and Ireland or various international competitions has helped our boxers to a large extent,” he makes his point. The Swede, who first took charge as coach of the Indian men’s boxing team in early 2017 and was later elevated to the post of High Performance Director, believes the domestic structure has also become highly competitive. “Just look at the 60-kg category, Manish Kashyap outboxed Shiva Thapa to make the cut for the 2019 AIBA World Championships- It has always been a ding-dong battle between Manish and Shiva – Manish had beaten Shiva to earn the right to box in the 2018 Commonwealth Games, and later Shiva pipped him to make it to the team for the 2018 Asian Games. This year again, Manish lost to Shiva in the Indian Open final. This level of competition is good for Indian boxing,” observed Nieva. It’s not about the 60-kg category – almost most categories feature cut-throat competition. To site a few, the 52-kg category has the likes of Amit Panghal, Sachin Siwach and Gaurav Solanki competing; the 56-kg category has guys like Hussamuddin Mohammed, Gaurav Bhiduri and Kavinder Singh Bisht; the 69-kg category has the likes of Ashish and Duryodhan Singh Negi competing the likes of Manish Pawar, Birjesh Yadav, Harsh Lakra compete and Sanjay breathing down the neck of each other in the 81-kg category. The 91-kg category has the likes of Naman Tanwar, Sumit Sangwan and Sanjeet competing, while the 91+ category has guys like Satish Kumar, Naveen Kumar and Hitesh competing. As the confabulation veers towards the 2019 AIBA World Championships, Nieva stopped short of making any medal predictions but exuded confidence that Indian boxers have it in them to make a big impression in the big-ticket event.
he sounded a note of caution while being bullish about the road ahead. Of course, the AIBA’s suspension has robbed the World Championship of Olympic quota places. “It’s a disappointing scenario to be in, but there’s very little we can do about it. We are banking on our boxers to use the World Championship platform to raise their ‘improvement bar’ and head into the IOC-conducted continental qualifiers to be held early next year with confidence,” Nieva signed off.
“Our boxers are in good nick, and we should be able to give a good account of ourselves in the World Championships. Of course, we have to watch out for the Cubans, Americans, Kazakhs and Russians,”