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Indian pugilists start favourite

Indian boxers are expected to dominate the XXX Energy Drink Commonwealth boxing championship starting at the Talkatora Stadium here on Friday.

Some strong countries have decided to give the championship a miss. Australia has opted out due to the clash of dates with its domestic competitions, while Canada has never shown interest. Pakistan has also decided against sending its pugilists for the event. However, Indian Boxing Federation (IBF) Secretary-General Col. P.K. Muralidharan Raja said that there were no security issues.

“Around 100 boxers from 14 countries will be seen action,” Col. Raja said.

The biggest challenger for India is likely to be England. However, Chief Coach G.S. Sandhu did not like to ignore boxers from other teams. “There are some good boxers in other countries as well. For example, Bruno Julie of Mauritius is an Olympic bronze medallist. Kenya has also a few good boxers. So, one cannot take things for granted,” he said.

Changed weight categories

The meet will be the first testing ground for the changes in weight categories to be brought in the London Olympics. Competitions will be held in 10 weights instead of 11. Weight categories of 48 kg, 51 kg and 54 kg have been upgraded to 49 kg, 52 kg and 56 kg respectively. The 57 kg category has been removed.

Sandhu said the boxers had made adjustments to fight in the changed weight classes.

The Indian team is a mixture of youth and experience. Amandeep Singh (49 kg) is a current South Asian Games gold winner, while Suranjoy Singh (52 kg) is the reigning Asian and National champion. Seasoned Akhil Kumar (56 kg) has the distinction of bagging a World Cup bronze and Jai Bhagwan (60 kg) an Asian silver.

Young Balwinder Beniwal (64), a silver medallist in the Hyderabad Nationals, would like to follow in the footprints of his famed cousin of World and Olympic medallist Vijender Singh (75 kg).

The crowd will love to watch the ruthless veteran Dilbagh Singh (69 kg), winner of multiple National titles, in action. World Cup medallist and Asian bronze winner Dinesh Kumar (81 kg) will be another big draw for the host in the higher weights.

Asian bronze medallist Paramjit Samota (+91 kg) and National title holder Manpreet Singh (91 kg) also give the home team a decent chance.

Vijender excited

Fighting in front of the home crowd after a long time will be a nervous affair for Vijender. “Still we are confident. We are fit and excited. We will try our best, but everything depends on how one performs on the given day,” he said.

For Akhil, changing to a new weight class is not an issue. “I have done it so often in my career. Besides, in order to adjust to the new scoring system, I have changed my style a little bit by boxing with the guard up when the opponent is closer to me,” he said.

The promoter of the event, Percept, has announced a cash prize of Rs. 25,000 each to all Indian gold medallists.

The bouts will be held from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. and 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. everyday. Doordarshan will show live telecast of the bouts.

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Printable version | Apr 1, 2020 1:37:45 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/sport/other-sports/Indian-pugilists-start-favourite/article16560625.ece

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