Guwahati: The 2nd edition of India Open Boxing Tournament which starts in Guwahati from May 20 will have around 200 pugilists from across the globe and this will be very crucial for Indian players in their run to the world championships later in this year.
In an exclusive interview with The Bridge, Indian Boxing’s High Performance Director Santiago Nieva said that the contingent is expecting to increase their tally from the last year.
“This is going to be very important for boxers ahead of the World Championships. Our preparation is good as we have come here with our best boxers. It will be very interesting tournament. There will be some world class boxers like Uzbekistan and others but in home, we expect our team to be strong,” Santiago said.
On the overall team performance, Santiago said that they are targeting to increase the medal tally but this will be really tough with the presence of some of the best boxers of the world.
“Last year, we had three gold medals among the men. We had one an-all Indian final. In women section, we had five gold medals. So, we are expecting to increase the tally this time around. Though there are some good teams, we have also some good boxers and we are expecting some all India finals as well,” he said.
Keeping in mind the approved weight categories for Olympic qualification, some of the Indian pugilists have changed their weight categories including six-time world champions Mary Kom and Asian Games gold medallist Amit Panghal.
But Santiago is hopeful that the boxers will do well.
“Those who have changed their weights have done very well. Amit was forced to play in the 52 kg. We have Ashish who went to 69 kg from 64 kg was a medallist in the Asian championship. Kavinder too didn’t have any problem. Shiva will have to go to 63 kg weight category after this tournament,” he said.
On Mary Kom, Santiago said that 51 kg category might be the most interesting category.
“She has won the World Championships. She has been competing for a long time but her skills are intact with experience. Now, she has good competition in her weight. Maybe, that will be the most interesting weight category among all,” he said.
On the World Championships which is scheduled to be held in Russia later this year, Santiago said that the Team India is expecting to better their performance.
“In the women section, we had very good results with one gold, one silver medal, and two bronze medals. In the men, we had fetched a bronze medal. Hopefully, this time we can do it better. In the recent Asian Championships, beating the Olympic gold medallists show that we are capable of doing it. Now it will be in Russia which might be more difficult,” he concluded.