IBA World Boxing Championships | Nepal out to make a statement with no burden of expectations
Anjani Teli of Nepal in action (blue).|
New Delhi is hosting the IBA Women's World Boxing Championship 2023 from March 16 to March 26, in which over 300 athletes from across the world are participating. That gives SportsCafe a chance to track down the journeys of some of the top players, and also some of the upcoming ones.
We, journalists, are predators. The moment we get a sniff of a champion in the making, we pounce on the players at the very first opportunity, as if trying to claim a stake in their success, or something simpler, just getting an interview done before our competitors. So when Nepal's Teli Anjani won her first-round match against Hernandez Garcia Miguelina of the Dominican Republic, which happens to be their first-ever victory at the world championships, I couldn't resist going along the expected lines.
A visibly happy Teli, unaware of her little achievement offered to speak. Not the most comfortable putting across her message in a sound manner to us predators, she did convey something, that hopefully, this was only a start. Now she harbours hopes of bagging a medal for her country in the championship. After all, she did something that no one else from Nepal had ever done. "It's a great feeling to be able to get a win here and now the focus is on getting a medal for the country. I trained with the Indian boxers in Rohtak, Haryana, growing up, so of course the goals are pretty big and I know how to play top players. Most of all, you want to give your best when you're playing for your country," Teli said.
Head coach Prachand Sharma, who has brought seven of his wards to New Delhi for the World Championship firmly believes that the team is here to create a few upsets. Minus the ifs and buts, the coach doesn't want to leave the Indian capital without a medal. And why not, if little-known Mozambique could get two bronze medals in the last edition, why shouldn't Nepal dream of one? "My team is very talented and Teli, who won the first match for us, didn't play the way I would have wanted, but still won. We have some depth in our squad, and I pray that we achieve something this time around," Prachand told SportsCafe.
Their team also has the presence of Susma Tamang, who recently won a silver medal in the U-22 Asian Women's Boxing Championship, again a first from her country. Prachand, in his heart, feels that Tamang is the one who could spring in a few surprises and is by far the best they have. "Susma made us proud in the U-22 Asian Championship, and if we are to go by the results of that, we should aim for something special. It is still a tall order, but yet it is doable. I must also say that other girls in my team are very capable too, but need to realize their potential."
While India is a powerhouse in women's boxing at least, there is a striking similarity between the boxers here and there. All these girls work for different departments back home, which sometimes hinders their practice, and Prachand wants a permanent fix for this. "If only I could miraculously manage to solve this aspect, these girls can get even bigger results. At the end of the day, they have to take care of their homes as well. We need to look into this soon, and maybe get a system in place where they are not bothered by all this."
"For now, I'm also trying my girls to train in India regularly, since they are one of the best in the business. Honestly, we are in talks with the Sports Authority of India for the same, and we would try to get that done before the Asian Games this year. Even our government is trying its best to help our boxers grow," he added.
With this first win under their belt, the expectations from Nepal have certainly gone up from zero, but only time will tell if they can get their desired results. Having said that, one can only be certain of an outcome, that they won't go down without a fight. And if even a medal doesn't come in this edition, bigger things could be in the pipeline.