A new-look Indian team will try to adapt to the challenges of the change in scoring system when it participates in the Asian boxing championship, to be held in Amman, Jordan, from June 30 to July 9.
It will be interesting to see how India fares without some of its prominent boxers — World and Olympic medallist Vijender Singh, World and Asian Games medal winner Vikas Krishan and young Olympian Sumit Sangwan — who are out of action due to various reasons.
According to chief coach G.S. Sandhu, boxers in the current team were promising enough to do well in the Asian championship, which would be the first major event for the Indians after the Olympics.
“It is a nice mix of youth and experience. All these (lesser known) boys are National champions and they have beaten talented boxers to get selected. We will have to see how boxers like Vikash Malik (60kg), Madan Lal (52kg), Sukhdeep Singh (75kg), Jagroop Singh (81kg), Satish Kumar (+91kg) perform in their first major championship,” said Sandhu, hours before the team’s departure to Amman.
On the new scoring system, Sandhu said, “Adapting quickly to the system will be crucial. They have practised, but it is different to compete in an event.”
For Dinesh Kumar, an Asian Games silver medallist and an Olympian, it will be an important comeback. The well-built boxer, who has jumped 10kg up to be in the 91kg division, will participate in an elite competition after a big gap. “Going up the weight has helped me. Earlier, pain used to recur even after taking rest. Now I require more power, so I work on my strength and endurance.”
Considered a talented boxer, Mandeep Jangra (69kg), who had lost in the quarterfinals in the previous edition of the Asian championship in 2011, said he was more confident this time. “I have gained weight even though I have not changed my category. I have more strength. Besides, I am more mature and better trained.”
Sukhdeep Singh (75kg) said he was aware that he was taking the place of a star like Vijender. “Everybody’s eyes will be on me. Since this is my first important event, the pressure will be less.”
Youngsters like Shiva Thapa and L. Devendro Singh said they had learnt a lot from their failure in the London Olympics and would make the best use of it.
Foreign coach B.I. Fernandez hoped that it would be a nice exposure for some boxers. “These are all good performers and have been doing well. We have to give them some chances,” he said.
The 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).