V.V. Subrahmanyam

HYDERABAD: The Indian pugilists are expected to put a good performance and, perhaps, bag a medal or two in the fourth the Military World Games as the team has six reigning National champions.

The confidence of the brains-trust is based on the intensive preparations the boxers had for the last six months at the Army Sports Institute (Pune) under the watchful guidance of chief coach Louis Enrique of Cuba.

The boxers lined up for one of the final practice sessions at the Artillery Centre rings in the foreground of the historic Golconda Fort on Saturday. “They have talent and we have focussed on training them to win medals,” said Enrique.

The Indian camp suffered a setback when Commonwealth gold medallist Som Bahadur Pun (64 kg) was put out of the Games after being hospitalised with viral fever.

The six National champions Sanjay Kolte, H.K. Belewal, Narjit Singh, A.Lakra, Thoi Thoi Singh and Manpreet Singh are confidence personified despite the huge challenge they will face in the Games, said to be the toughest after the Olympics. “No doubt a lot depends on the draw. But we are ready for the challenge,” says Capt. Manoj Kumar, manager of the team.

Enrique, who has been with these boxers for three years now, seems to be confident of getting the best from his boys.

“We are also looking at these Games as a preparatory event for the next month’s World Championship.

This should give me a fair idea of where exactly our boxers stand and what are the areas of concern,” he said in a chat with The Hindu.

Enrique picked Manpreet Singh for special mention and after a one-to-one training session said that he should be the biggest medal prospect from India in the Olympics.

“We should perform well in these Games because there will be a plenty of crowd support,” he pointed out.

The team: Sanjay Kolte (48kg), H.K. Belwal (51kg), Narjit Singh (54kg), A. Lakra (57kg), Thoi Thoi Singh (60kg), Satyaraju (64kg), D. Bhagyarajan (69kg), Amarjit Singh (75kg), Mahider Thapa (81kg), Manpreet Singh (91kg), Meher Singh (91kg and above).

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