Indian boxers await stiff challenge at Asian Championships
The Indians face a herculean task in the upcoming edition of the Asian Championships.
Their performance at the last Asian Championships was historic in every sense of the word but emulating that would be a herculean task for the Indian boxers when they step into the ring in the upcoming edition of the continental event in Amman, Jordan.
Last time around, India ended with a gold, two silver and four bronze medals to mark the best ever show in 27 years but to repeat or do better than that would be easier said than done.
For once, the 10-member team, which left on Friday for the Competition, will fight it out under the International Boxing Association's (AIBA) flag due to the country's international suspension last year.
This effectively means not being accompanied by any doctor or technical staff like referees as officials are barred from accompanying suspended teams, something which can be a major impediment in a competition of such a huge magnitude.
"Let's hope for a good result. All the boys who are going are relatively new and I just want them to perform well, the medals will be taken care of. They just have to focus on their performance," national coach Gurbaksh Singh Sandhu told PTI.
"The competition would be expectedly tough but our boys have nothing to lose, so they should perform without any inhibition and not get overawed by the big stage," he added.
Four years back, when the event was held in China, Suranjoy Singh gave India its first Asian Championship gold in 15 years. Thokchom Nanao Singh and Jai Bhagwan bagged silver medals as the country's boxers rounded off a 27-year-best performance in the elite event.
Of these, only Dinesh, who later went on to win the Asian Games silver medal, is there in the current team. He has jumped a division and would now be seen in action in the 91kg category.
"I was undergoing my training in Haryana Police which helped me build a good physique. Reducing weight to stay inside 81kg was becoming very painful and taxing. So, I decided to make the jump," said the Haryana lad.
Among the prominent names in the squad is Commonwealth Games gold-medallist Manoj Kumar (64kg) along with Olympians L Devendro Singh (49kg), who made the London Games quarterfinals last year, and Shiva Thapa (56kg).
The youngsters will be joined by some other upcoming faces in the team.
In the absence of Vijender, who missed the trials after being embroiled in a drug scandal only to be absolved later, greenhorn Sukhdeep Singh Bhatti has got the middleweight (75kg) slot in the squad.
Also there is Mandeep Jangra in the 69kg division.
Jangra, a protege of former Commonwealth Games gold medallist Akhil Kumar, was impressive in his debut in senior international tournament in Cyprus where he bagged a gold last month.
Squad: L Devendro Singh (49kg), Madan Lal (52kg), Shiva Thapa (56kg), Vikash Malik (60kg), Manoj Kumar (64kg), Mandeep Jangra (69kg), Sukhdeep Singh Bhatti (75kg), Jagroop Singh (81kg), Dinesh Kumar (91kg), Satish Kumar (+91kg).