Dis­ad­van­taged, yet com­pet­i­tive

Sportstar - - BOXING PREVIEW - Y. B. SARANGI

Most mem­o­rable mo­ment:

The big sur­prise in box­ing at the 201■ Asian Games came nearly two months be­fore the ac­tual event, when 2014 gold medal­list, 2012 Olympic bronze medal­list and five­time world cham­pion M. C. Mary Kom said she would not be par­tic­i­pat­ing in Jakarta­palem­bang. Her rea­son­ing was sound: the mighty Ma­nipuri was un­will­ing to move back to the 51kg cat­e­gory af­ter switch­ing to 4■kg, in which she won gold at the Com­mon­wealth Games in Gold Coast, Aus­tralia, ear­lier this year.

None­the­less, the In­dian con­tin­gent is ex­pected to re­turn with a rich haul, es­pe­cially con­sid­er­ing that the coun­try won nine medals in April’s Com­mon­wealth Games and de­spite the fact that three heav­ier weight cat­e­gories have been dropped for Jakarta­palem­bang, leav­ing seven for the men and three for the women.

The field is ex­pected to be a tough one, with Kaza­khstan and Uzbek­istan box­ers par­tic­i­pat­ing in all weight classes, and In­dia’s chances shrink­ing in the ab­sence of the heav­ier classes, in which the coun­try won two medals at Gold Coast. Still, In­dia has a raft of tal­ent that in­cludes Amit Pang­hal (bronze at the 2017 Asian Cham­pi­onships and sil­ver at the 201■ Com­mon­wealth Games) in the 49kg, Gau­rav Solanki (gold at the 201■ Com­mon­wealth Games) in the 52kg, Mo­hammed Hus­samud­din (bronze at the 201■ Com­mon­wealth Games) in the 56kg, back­in­form Olympian Shiva Thapa and Vikas Kr­is­han Ya­dav (gold at the 2010 Asian Games and the 201■ Com­mon­wealth Games) in the 60kg.

The women’s con­tin­gent, too, has medal con­tenders in Sar­jubala Devi (sil­ver at the 2014 Women’s World Box­ing Cham­pi­onships) in the 51kg, So­nia Lather (sil­ver at the 2016 Women’s World Box­ing Cham­pi­onships) in the 57kg class and Pav­i­tra in the 60kg.

R. V. MOORTHY

Pack­ing a punch: So­nia Lather, a sil­ver medal­list at the 2016 Women’s World Box­ing Cham­pi­onships, will par­tic­i­pate in the 57kg class.

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