Updated April 2nd, 2024 at 20:05 IST

Asia’s top boxers spar at multination camp; ‘Best way forward for burgeoning India’, says coach

Juniors from Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Sri Lanka, and India participated in the two-week-long camp at SAI’s National Centre of Excellence in Rohtak

Asia best junior boxers went toe-to-toe in the Combined Multinational Training Camp | Image:SAI
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Some of Asia best junior boxers went toe-to-toe in the Combined Multinational Training Camp for boys and girls at the Sports Authority of India’s National Centre of Excellence in Rohtak. Supervised by the Boxing Federation of India and held under the aegis of the Rural Electrification Corporation, the two-week long camp, ended on Tuesday.

One hundred and sixty-five boxers and support staff from India, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan and Sri Lanka took part in this unique camp aimed at exposing budding boxers to quality training and camp life. The overseas boxers were accompanied by coaches from their respective countries. Knowledge sharing was a key ingredient in this camp.

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Keeping a close eye on the camp was India’s former boxing head coach and one of the best in the business, Blas Iglesias Fernandez. The 68-year Cuban, the longest serving foreign coach in India across any sport and currently working with SAI, said the multination camp was one of the best things to happen and should help enhance India’s image as a burgeoning boxing power.

This camp has been really useful. All the boys were very happy. Apart from the improvement in technical skills, the interaction among them has been very beautiful. From the dining hall to the training room, there has been very good bonding. So, it is a very good experience for every boy and girl,” said Fernandez.

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In both divisions, boys and girls, there were several standout participants who have already tasted some international success. From India, Haryana’s Payal, a 2023 world championship gold medallist in 48 kg at Armenia, was a star attraction in the camp. 

Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan, traditionally well-known for their boxers, also brought some of their best talents. Aisulu, a 63 kg world junior champion from Kazakhstan, and Mamatuva Severa, a 57 kg junior gold medallist in Armenia, were among those who lifted the value of this camp.

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Sparring with the Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan boxers, doing pad work with them as well as strength work have been a great experience for us. Watching their movements will help us going forward. They are strong and technically good but if we can be fierce with our flurry of punches, we can dominate them,” said Payal.

Said Oinam Geeta Chanu, the head coach for girls, “Having Kazakh and Uzbek here gave us a lot of learnings skill-wise and our students got a lot of experience and confidence. I also feel India have been better in terms of technique. This experience has come in at the right time ahead of the Asian junior championships in August.” 

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Sri Lanka, not known globally for their boxing prowess, sent a team of 35 boxers and coaches for the SAI-BFI camp. For them it was an exposure to top quality training and meeting some of the best in the business.

Said Pradeep Jaisingha, the Sri Lankan coach: “The facilities here at the SAI NCOE Rohtak are of international level and we got lot of knowledge and skill development. One of the most important parts of the coaching camp was a lot of human bonding and collaboration.”

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Coming at a time when almost all nations are building up to Paris 2024 in July and August, it was a great opportunity to see the next line of boxers who have the potential to win an Olympic medal in future. 

Sachin K, SAI’s Deputy Director at Rohtak, said: “Not only for all these young boxers but also for all the coaches it serves as a great opportunity to exchange thoughts for preparation and also technical skills. Next year also, the plan is to hold this multinational camp for youth and junior categories and the elite level.”

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Published April 2nd, 2024 at 20:02 IST