Monday, September 7, 2015

Asian Championship: Indian boxing is very much alive and kicking!

Administrative mess may have put Indian boxing in poor light over the past few months, but there was ‘no messing around’ in the ring by the national boxers at the recently-concluded Asian Boxing Championships in Bangkok. A tournament, which carried so much significance since the berths for the 2015 AIBA World Championship were up for grabs, the Indian pugilists had a ‘real battle’ in their hands as they had to cope with the stringent qualifying norms for the marquee event.

Indian boxers showed why there are a still a formidable boxing force in the Asian region, finishing a creditable fourth among the record 28 countries (behind tabletoppers Kazakhstan  - 42 points, Uzbekistan - 38 points and hosts Thailand - 17 points) even without their iconic boxer Vijender Singh, who turned pro recently. In fact, middleweight boxer Vikash Krishnan Yadav has shown that he has the ‘ammunition’ to take over from Vijender in the 75-kg category as he settled for a silver losing a tough final bout to Bektemir Melikuziev of Uzbekistan – the lone Indian to reach the final. A former World Championship bronze medallist, Vikas is undoubtedly India’s best bet in the 2015 AIBA World Championship as well as the 2016 Rio Olympics. Even head coach Gurbax Singh Sandhu thinks highly of this Haryana lad.

The so-called ‘Uzbekistan hurdle’ came in the way of more Indian pugilists entering the final. Big prospect – Laishram Devendro Singh did his reputation no harm romping into the semifinals of the 49-kg category before top-seed Hasanboy Dusmatov prevailed over him. The 2012 London Olympic quarterfinalist is fast maturing and it won’t be surprise if he upsets some big names in the 2015 AIBA World Championship. There was another Indian – reigning champion Shiva Thapa, who fell to the tenacity of an Uzbek boxer - Murodjon Akhmadaliev – for the record three Uzbek boxers stopped the Indian boxers from their march towards gold. Super heavyweight boxer Satish Kumar just had to be merely satisfied reaching the final of the 91+ kg category as he lost tamely to China’s Wang Zhibao.

Fortune favours the brave and boxers – Manoj Kumar (52-kg) and Madan Lal (64 kg) – fought bravely before losing their quarterfinal bouts and still sealed their berths for the 2015 AIBA World Championship as their respective rivals after the Uzbek boxers who beat them in the quarterfinals -- Shakhobidin Zoirov, seeded second, and Fazliddin Gaibnazarov respectively – stormed into the final.
Clearly, the haul of one silver and three bronze medals as well as a fourth place finish in the Asian Boxing Championships are  a fair indicator of what our boxers are capable of given they are operating under literally a ‘headless’ federation with boxing administration girdled with uncertainty.
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