Eyeing a strong show at the upcoming Asian Games, the Indian men and women boxers will be training in Ireland and Italy respectively, the Boxing Federation of India (BFI) announced on Saturday.
While the star-studded women’s team, led by country’s most accomplished boxer M.C. Mary Kom, left for Italy on Friday while the men’s team will leave for Ireland on Sunday. The federation has drawn out a three-month calendar that will see the boxers getting extensive training in foreign camps beside participating in key tournaments to be ready for the big continental games.
The women pugilists will be training at the elite Olympic Performance training centre, alongside top women boxers from Finland, Romania, Italy and Montenegro who are already preparing there for the EUBC Women’s European Boxing Championships. Apart from Mary Kom (48kg), the Indian women squad features Monika (48kg), Sarjubala Devi and Pinki Rani (both 51kg), Meena Maisnam (54kg), two time Asian Championship silver medallist Sonia Lather and 2017 World Youth Champion gold medallist Shashi Chopra in the 57kg category.
Also, Laishram Sarita Devi and Pavitra will feature in the 60kg, Simranjit Kaur in 64kg, Lovlina Borgohain and Pooja in 69kg. Former World Championship silver medallist Saweety Bora (75kg), Asian Championship bronze medallist Seema Poonia (81kg) and Lalfakmawii Ralte (+81kg) will be fighting in the heavyweight categories.
India’s only Youth Olympic Games qualifier so far, Jyoti (51 kg), was also part of the contingent and will train alongside her senior counterparts as she gears up for her maiden stint at the Youth Olympic Games to be held in Buenos Aires later this year. Commenting on the upcoming trip, women’s coach Raffaele Bergamasco said: “It is an important trip for our boxers as they will get to train in the best conditions before the crucial Asian Games and later the World Championship.”
“We have picked the top boxers from each category and will be putting them through similar training regimen before the team for the Asian Games is selected,” Raffaele added before boarding the flight on Friday. On the other hand, the men’s team will train at the high-performance centre of the Irish Boxing Association.
Himanshu Sharma (49kg), who made the cut after his gold medal-winning exploits in Belgrade, CWG gold medallist Gaurav Solanki and Salman Sheikh (both 52kg), and Madan Lal (56kg) will be hoping to sharpen their punches for the big event. Twenty-year-old Ankush Dahiya (60kg), who won the silver in the Asian Youth Championship, will also try to impress to make it to the Asian Games.
After some impressive runs in the World Series Boxing (WSB), Dheeraj Kumar and Ashish (both 64kg), Duryodhan Negi (69kg), Mandeep Jangra (75kg) and youngster, Sanjeet (91kg) have all been included to get exposure. Manish Pawar (81kg) and Parveen Kumar (+91kg) will be representing in the heavyweight categories.
“We have handpicked a pool of probable boxers in each category and in the next few tournaments each of them will get chance to show their abilities,” said men’s foreign coach Santiago Nieva.
“After closely monitoring their performances in the series of exposure trips and major championship that is lined in the next two months we will chose the best for the Asian Games squad,” he added.