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Updated March 14th, 2024 at 16:24 IST

'There will be no foreign coaches': Coaching crisis in Boxing just 4 months before Paris Olympics

India's dismal performance in the recent Olympic Qualifiers for boxing has triggered a coaching crisis just four months before the Paris Games as High Performance Director Bernard Dunne has stepped down while foreign coach Dmitry Dmitruk is likely to be shown the exit door very soon.

Bernard Dunne
Bernard Dunne | Image:BFI
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India's dismal performance in the recent Olympic Qualifiers for boxing has triggered a coaching crisis just four months before the Paris Games as High Performance Director Bernard Dunne has stepped down while foreign coach Dmitry Dmitruk is likely to be shown the exit door very soon.

Dunne, a former Irish professional boxer who was appointed as the HPD in October 2022, sent out his resignation from Italy, where he was with the Indian team for the first World Olympic Boxing Qualifiers.

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After two qualification events -- the Asian Games and the first World Olympic Boxing Qualifier -- not one Indian male pugilist has been able to book a place for the Olympics.

The Boxing Federation of India (BFI) has called an executive meeting on Friday to assess the situation.

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"Bernard is out. We have called an executive meeting tomorrow, where we will assess everything. A call on Dmitry's future will also be taken in tomorrow's meeting," BFI Secretary General Hemanta Kalita told PTI.

Dmitruk assumed charge in February last year, just ahead of the women's World Championships.

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The federation is now looking at Indian coaches to take charge of the men's and women's teams with two months left for the final Olympic qualifier in May.

"There will be no foreign coaches as of now. We will be looking at Indian coaches," he added.

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At present, long-serving C A Kuttappa is the only Indian in men's coaching staff, while the women do not have an Indian coach after Bhaskar Bhatt stepped down to once again take over as youth coach in June last year.

Indian boxers cut a sorry figure at the recently-concluded first World Olympic Boxing Qualifiers in Italy where all nine pugilists -- two women and six men -- returned empty-handed.

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Barring Nishant Dev (71kg), who was a win away from winning a quota, all other boxers crashed out in the opening round in Italy.

More than the defeat, it was the manner in which the boxers lost, including a first-round RSC and a knockout, that has triggered concerns.

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All four quotas in boxing have come in the women's competition with two-time world champion Nikhat Zareen (50kg), Preeti Pawar (54kg), Parveen Hooda (57kg), and Tokyo Olympics bronze-medallist Lovlina Borgohain (75kg) securing their passage to Paris.

Indian boxers now have one last chance to book their Olympic tickets during the second World Olympic Boxing Qualifier, scheduled to be held in Bangkok from May 23.

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With very little time left, the BFI will have to take several big calls, including continuing with the contentious selection process that was drafted by Dunne.

The Irishman did away with selection trials, instead opting for an evaluation process, in which the boxers were judged on various parameters.

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Many boxers and even coaches, including former men's chief coach Narender Rana, resisted the the move alleging that the process is "subjective".

Rana was subsequently relieved from his post.

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Several boxers like the country's lone men's World Championship silver-medallist Amit Panghal (51kg) went to court after repeatedly losing out to Deepak Bhoria in the assessment.

Under Dunne, the camp for boxers who compete in non-Olympic weight divisions was also shifted to Pune from Patiala.

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"He just wanted minimum boxers in the camp, two each in the Olympic weight categories," Rana said.

This resulted in a paucity of sparring partners, which many believe hurt the elite boxers.

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"Indian boxing's strength is the large number of boxers and the different playing styles. Not utilising sparring partners with different playing styles, who are easily available has hurt our boxers," another coach added.

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Published March 14th, 2024 at 15:07 IST

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