The Indian Amateur Boxing Federation (IABF) has decided to retain the services of Cuban coach Blas Iglesias Fernandez till the next Olympics in Rio (2016).
AIBF secretary-general Rajesh Bhandari informed The Hindu on the sidelines of the ongoing senior National boxing championship here that the Federation had taken this decision as part of its dream project to see an Indian win a boxing gold in the Olympics.
“Our immediate goal is to win as many medals in next year’s World and Asian championships,” he said.
“We are working out plans to cash in on the popularity of the sport and also groom the young talent in the wake of impressive performances of Indian boxers at the highest level. So we felt that Fernandez (who was also the recipient of the Dronacharya Award and who has been with the Indian boxers for close to 20 years) is the best choice and will work along with G.S. Sandhu,” he said.
“The Cuban coach knows the strengths and weaknesses of our boxers having worked so closely with them. He had a hand in shaping the careers of Beijing Olympics bronze medallist Vijender Singh and 2012 London Olympics bronze medallist Mary Kom,” Mr. Bhandari said.
“The federation is taking the Hyderabad Nationals very seriously even though leading names have decided to take a break after the Olympics. From this edition, we will pick the best 60 boxers and groom them over a period of time,” he said. “We have similar plans for women’s boxing.”
“Unlike in the past, the federation will not just confine itself to picking only the four medallists in each category but will also look out for two more in each category who missed the chance to make it to the knockout phase but showed great promise,” he added.
“The federation will soon have a three-day detailed discussion with the Union Sports Ministry to chalk out the Long-Term Development Plan. We will suggest to the Government that the federation will provide technical support in terms of ensuring quality coaches if the former takes the initiative in setting up academies across the major centres to start with,” Mr. Bhandari said.
“We would like to implement what we have done in Himachal Pradesh where all former national and international boxers have been identified and asked to scout talent in their respective areas and train the young boxers,” he said.
“The onus is on the federation and the State and the Central Governments to ensure that there is a practical approach to tap, nurture and produce boxing champions,” the IABF secretary-general said.