With around 600 boxers in the fray, the World Championship to be held in Milan from September 1 will surely be tougher than the Olympics for the Indian boxers.
However, the Indian contingent is more confident than ever to break the jinx and open the medal account for the country in the championships.
India is sending a nine-member team for the championships and the Indian Boxing Federation (IBF) has asserted that this was the best side the country had ever fielded.
“We are sending a strong squad. The confidence of the boxers is high and hopefully we will break the jinx this time,” said P.K. Muralidharan Raja, secretary general of the federation on Wednesday.
The Indian team will leave for Milan on Thursday. This will help the boxers get some time for acclimatisation. However, Olympic bronze medal winning boxer Vijender Singh and coach Jaydev Bisht will stay back to receive the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna and the Dronacharya awards respectively.
Seeding system can help
The championships will thoroughly test a boxer as one has to box at least five rounds in order to ensure a bronze medal. However, the newly-introduced seeding system (of top eight boxers) will help some higher-ranked Indians, like Vijender, Nanao Singh and Dinesh Kumar, who are placed among the top competitors in the world.
“At least this will ensure that the top boxers do not fight with each other early and that gives us some advantage,” Col. Raja said.
Chief coach G.S. Sandhu, is excited. “There is an air of confidence because of the consistent performance of the boxers in various international events. Plus, the other satisfying thing is that majority of them are experienced. So, nobody would get unnerved by the big stage,” Sandhu said.
However, he admitted that two top pugilists who have shifted to upper weight categories might have some concern. “We are keeping our fingers crossed about Jitender (Kumar) and Akhil (Kumar). Jitender has competed in three meets in the new weight but in the case of Akhil it will be the first international exposure,” Sandhu said.
Akhil, who changed from 54 to 57 kg, agreed with Sandhu. “Yes, not participating in any tournament in the new weight will make a difference, at least mentally. By participating in a tournament one gets a feel of it which helps a lot. However, I am banking on my experience to get over this,” Akhil said.
This is a good chance for Vijender to make it a rare double of winning an Olympic and World championships medal and the ace boxer is very keen to achieve that feat.
“Sometimes training alone does not help. You need positive thinking and others’ goodwill. I have done 20-30 rounds of training in this summer and will try to make it happen,” said Vijender.
He underscored that endurance would be key as a boxer would have to fight with more number of opponents and focus on power punches to earn points in the new three-round format.
The World championships will also be significant from the point of the World Series of Boxing. The International Boxing Association (AIBA) has so far shortlisted 100 pugilists for the event and the franchisees will take their pick during the World Championship.