Once on the ropes, In­dian box­ing comes out swing­ing

Kuwait Times - - Front Page -

GOLD COAST: A bullish In­dia cel­e­brated their best box­ing per­for­mance at a Com­mon­wealth Games and are now tar­get­ing more suc­cess to ri­val the best na­tions at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. Top fig­ures in In­dian box­ing said their ex­ploits on Aus­tralia’s Gold Coast were no fluke, even if they sur­passed their own ex­pec­ta­tions in rack­ing up nine medals in the sport.

In­dia pipped hosts Aus­tralia to sit sec­ond in the box­ing medals ta­ble with three golds-Mary Kom (light­fly­weight), Vikas Krishan (mid­dleweight) and Gau­rav Solanki (fly­weight). Eng­land, who have poured sig­nif­i­cant re­sources into am­a­teur box­ing, topped the ta­ble with six gold medals.

It was a highly sat­is­fac­tory end­ing to a fort­night that started badly for In­dian box­ing with a warn­ing for break­ing the Games’ strict no nee­dle pol­icy af­ter giv­ing a vi­ta­min in­jec­tion to an un­named fighter. All this comes just a few years af­ter In­dian box­ing reached a nadir when its fed­er­a­tion was ef­fec­tively ex­pelled by the sport’s am­a­teur world gov­ern­ing body, the In­ter­na­tional Box­ing As­so­ci­a­tion (AIBA), over how it elected its of­fi­cials.

Now back in the in­ter­na­tional fold as the Box­ing Fed­er­a­tion of In­dia (BFI), its pres­i­dent Ajay Singh told AFP at the Gold Coast: “Last year a new fed­er­a­tion took over and we are try­ing to en­sure that we hold cham­pi­onships in In­dia and have our box­ers par­tic­i­pate in all in­ter­na­tional cham­pi­onships. “We make sure we train our box­ers well, make sure we plan their fights well and there’s a great deal of en­thu­si­asm for box­ing in In­dia.” Singh, who has been in the post for 19 months, added boldly: “We ex­pect that in the next two years In­dia will be one of the lead­ing box­ing na­tions in the world.”

WORLD AM­BI­TION

So far, so good. At the Glas­gow 2014 Com­mon­wealths, In­dia failed to win one gold, un­der­lin­ing the stark im­prove­ment since. “We have tried to put a lot of fo­cus on the box­ers them­selves, leave out the pol­i­tics and make sure that we have the best sup­port staff train­ing our box­ers,” said Singh.

“Also make sure that our box­ers get as much ex­po­sure as pos­si­bleIn­dian fight­ers were not go­ing out fight­ing any­where in the world.” He is chang­ing that, send­ing In­dian box­ers abroad for tour­na­ments and host­ing in­ter­na­tional events such as Jan­uary’s in­au­gu­ral In­dian Open. “We are also try­ing to plan sci­en­tif­i­cally-how they train for en­durance, what food they eat, sci­en­tif­i­cally how they can up­grade their skills,” Singh said.

“I don’t think that be­fore we looked at box­ing as a sport in which In­dia needed to be a world power.” San­ti­ago Nieva was brought in just over a year ago as high-per­for­mance di­rec­tor and said that with a pop­u­la­tion of 1.3 bil­lion peo­ple, there is no end of po­ten­tial in In­dia.

The gov­ern­ment and box­ing fed­er­a­tion pro­vided good sup­port, in­clud­ing fi­nan­cially, said the Ar­gen­tine, who was pre­vi­ously in the same se­nior post in Swedish box­ing. Box­ers have de­scribed how Nieva will have an an­a­lyst make a video nasty of their mis­takes, then send it to their phones so they can watch it any time, and hope­fully avoid the same er­ror in fu­ture.

While strik­ing an up­beat tone, Nieva said more work re­mained. Af­ter all, the Com­mon­wealths are nowhere near as com­pet­i­tive as the Olympics. “If we com­pare our­selves to the top na­tions, we are not there yet,” he cau­tioned, ref­er­enc­ing Britain and Cuba. “We have a good in­fras­truc­ture, but not com­pared to the best in the world,” he added, men­tion­ing sports tech­nol­ogy and sci­ence. “When we get that-it will take one or two years-we will pro­duce a lot of re­sults.” — AFP

GOLD COAST: Gold medal­list In­dia’s Vikas Krishan at­tends the medal cer­e­mony for the men’s 75kg box­ing event dur­ing the 2018 Gold Coast Com­mon­wealth Games. — AFP

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