Sunday, September 26, 2010

Boxing: India's lords of the ring!

Since 2008 Olympics, Indian boxing is on a high. Having won its first medal at the global meet in Beijing, the pugilists have not returned empty handed from major competitions and at the Commonwealth Games, they are targetting a record haul of medals.

India’s best performance at the CWG came in 2006, when they returned with one gold, two silver and two bronze medals.

“I won’t point out who the favourites are because for me all the 10 boxers have an opportunity to win a medal. A lot will depend on the draw and how they fare on that given day. One thing is sure that we’ll pocket a rich haul of medals,” said chief coach GS Sandhu.

Leading the charge will be Vijender Singh, who won silver at the 2006 Games in the welterweight category before moving up a division to middleweight.

Given his No.1 ranking in the world, he should win hands down but he has often buckled at crucial junctures denying himself the gold in major competitions.

Vijender finally managed to break the duck at the recently concluded Commonwealth Championship in New Delhi, but the competition was much weaker than what he would face at the Games.

If one goes by performance at the Commonwealth Championship where India won six gold medals, it looks like they will end up with a bucketful of medals, but Sandhu is cautious. “The level of competition is different at Championships and Games.

The stakes are very high at Games with most countries sending their ‘A’ team, which may not be the case when it comes to championships. But I’m optimistic of a better showing,” he said.
Vijender seconded Sandhu. “Canada and Australia didn’t send their best boxers for the championships and it will be tougher at the Games. My job will be to concentrate on the task ahead,” Vijender told DNA.

He said that he wants to silence his critics by clinching the gold. “On many occasions, I’ve overheard people say ‘Vijender reaches semis or final, but fails to land the crucial blow’. What they don’t mention is I was the first to win a medal at the Olympics and the World Championships. I will finally silence them with a good showing at the Games,” said the lad from Bhiwani.

If Vijender has been the face of Indian boxing since his bronze-winning effort at the 2008 Olympics, it was Akhil Kumar who made the Indians believe that they can compete with the world’s best after he clinched gold at the Melbourne Games.

Though Akhil has been struggling with injury since then, he is confident of defending his title. “It has been tough but who said boxing is easy. It’s a sport which leaves you in pain whether you win or lose. I have recovered from niggles that have been affecting me and I am confident of defending my gold medal successfully,” said Akhil.

But India’s medal hopes don’t end with these two boxers, who are without doubt the most recognisable faces of the sport in the country.
Suranjoy Singh, a 23-year-old flyweight boxer from Manipur, is one of the brightest prospects given the form he has shown in the past year.

The 2004 world junior bronze medallist came back into the Indian fold in 2009 and since then he’s been the most consistent pugilist. The Navy man first won gold for India, after a gap of 15 years, at the 2009 Asian Championship and capped off the year with AIBA’s Boxer of the Year award.

“Suranjoy’s speed make him one of the most dangerous boxers. His reflexes are excellent and he makes up for his lack of height by fighting from a distance,” said Sandhu.

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