With the International Olympic Committee (IOC) stripping off the Olympic qualifier status from the World Championships, India would be aiming to win something more than bronze medals in the tournament. The tournament would see 450 boxers from 87 countries fighting across 12 days.
India haven’t really dominated the World Championships in its history, managing to win just four bronze medals in the last 20 editions with Vijender Singh (2009), Vikas Krishan (2011), Shiva Thapa (2015) and Gaurav Bidhuri (2017) being their heroes. And this lackluster result could be the biggest motivation for the Indian pugilists after their chance to seal Olympic berths were taken away.
“It is going to be tough. The aim is to improve on what we have done in the past. That’s what we work for,” said Santiago Nieva, Indian Boxing’s High-Performance Director, reported PTI.
The tournament, now revised, will have eight weight categories instead of the traditional 10. Hence, around 450 boxers would be fighting from 87 nations across the 52kg, 57kg, 63kg, 69kg, 74kg, 81kg, 91kg, +91kg categories, which could see as many as 400 bouts starting from Monday.
India’s biggest hope from the extravaganza would obviously be Amit Panghal in the 52kg, after the reticent 23-year-old has been beating anyone and everyone coming his way. The current Asian Championships and Asiad gold-medallist had almost stunned defending champion Hasanboy Dusmatov in the 2017 edition before losing by a whisker.
Apart from Phangal, there would be Kavinder Bisht (57kg), an Air Force man, whose 2-3 loss in 2017 had given the boxing fans a taste of his talent.
Nieva, however, has his eyes in the Olympic qualifiers scheduled to take place early next year, just months before the Tokyo Games. “There is no 49kg and 60kg this time, categories that we are really good at. I think we are going to get a very good idea of where we stand viz-a-viz the Olympic qualifiers,” he added.