New Delhi: They are delivering the medals despite the absence of a national body but desperation is setting in for the Indian boxers, who concede that lack of international exposure because of the current administrative mess is hurting them badly.
National boxing coach Gurbax Singh Sandhu
India finished an impressive fourth out of 28 countries in the recent Asian Championships, winning one silver and three bronze medals but that can hardly cover up the fact that this was a performance despite a dysfunctional system.
"There is no international exposure like before. The sparring partners at the camps are the same, how long can you go on training with those guys?" asked Vikas Krishan (75kg), who won the lone silver at the Asian meet.
"In my weight category, I don't have good sparring partners. I end up sparring with 91kg guys because at least they have some power in their punches but even that is not enough. We need to go abroad and train with others," he added.
Vikas is among the handful who have sponsors to finance a trip to UK or the USA ahead of big events but overall the situation is grim.
"We are badly missing combined training programmes with top nations like Cuba or Kazakhstan which used to happen twice a year earlier. Such training programmes play a vital role because the boxer is not under pressure to deliver but at the same time gets to train with the best," national coach Gurbax Singh Sandhu told PTI.
The Indian boxing administration has been in shambles ever since the erstwhile Indian Amateur Boxing Federation (IABF) was terminated for manipulation in elections.
The new body which was elected to office last year -- Boxing India -- has also disintegrated, leaving it to a ad-hoc body set up by the International Boxing Association and headed by India's AIBA representative Kishan Narsi to oversee the sport as of now.
"Nobody invites us anymore. Even if we request combined training, no country accepts it because there is no Federation," said Vikas.
"We desperately need foreign exposure. It's not about just going abroad and training, we need to train as well as compete in countries like Kazakhstan and Cuba because just training in Patiala is not enough," added Shiva Thapa (56kg), who won a bronze medal at the Asian Championships.
Not having a governing body also means having to compete under the AIBA flag. "Plus there is nobody to raise a voice for us. Nobody to lodge a protest or make a point in case of any unfair decision. And we manage to somehow deliver results despite all this," said a boxer who did not wish to be named.
Next up for the Indians is the World Championships, for which six made the cut from the Asian meet. The showpiece in Doha next month is the first qualifier for the Olympics next year.
"The draw will be smaller but competition is going to be top notch because only the best will be there. I don't think there would be any foreign exposure before that. Let's see how it goes, we will be trying our best like usual," said another pugilist with a smile.