As the 10-man Indian boxing contingent prepares for a fist-off against the best at the 2011 AIBA World Championships at Baku, Azerbaijan beginning on September 26, India Boxing Federation secretary general PK Muralidharan Raja is expecting a historic outcome.
IBF Gen Secy PKM Raja
Till date, India have won just one medal at boxing's apex competition -- a bronze by Vijender Singh in the 75 Kg Middleweight category at the 2009 Worlds in Milan, Italy. "But this time round, that tally should at least double, if not more. But I would not like to a put a colour to those medals," Raja told MiD DAY yesterday.
Beijing Olympic bronze winner and Guangzhou Asian Games gold medallist Vijender and Beijing Olympic quarter-finalist Akhil Kumar are the two most experienced boxers in the Indian squad and Raja is expecting a good show from both. "Vijender has proven himself time and again. Recently he won the gold at the World Police Games too. But Akhil has surprised us. There was a keen tussle in the Bantam Weight 56 Kg category between Akhil and Shiv Thapa, a young boxer. In fact, during training Thapa beat Akhil too, but the experienced campaigner came good when in the selections trials and deservedly made the squad," explained Raja.
The new points scoring system however is worrying Indian boxers. "The Worlds will be played under the new rule where points will be awarded after taking the average of the three judges scores which are closest. Now, boxers as well as the audience will know the score only after each round and not during rounds as was the case earlier.
The idea is to encourage attacking boxing and this suits our aggressive style too. But our boxers are a bit apprehensive because they feel it is better to know the score continuously as it helps when one is down by a point or two in the final round," said Raja, a former Olympic and World Championship referee himself.
This Worlds is also a qualification tournament for the London Olympics. "The competition will be tough with over 500 of the world's best boxers in the fray. But we should be able to secure at least two or three Olympic spots here. Anything above that will be a bonus," said Raja.
The Indian squad
>> Devendro Singh (49kg) uSuranjoy Singh (52kg)
>> uAkhil Kumar (56 Kg)
>> Jai Bhagwan (60kg)
>> Manoj Kumar (64 Kg)
>> Vikash Krishnan (69 Kg)
>> Vijender Singh (75kg)
>> Dinesh Kumar (81kg)
>> Manpreet Singh (91kg)
>> Paramjeet Samota (+91kg)