Fernandez open to working with the BFI

Former India coach Blas Iglesias Fernandez, it is learnt, has been recommended to the Boxing Federation of India (BFI) for a possible comeback and the matter is under consideration.

Sarita Devi, who lost her semifinal bout in the 60kg category at the Asian Games in Incheon, is in tears. She refused the bronze medal at the ceremony.   -  AP

India's chief National coach Gurbax Singh Sandhu with the Cuban coach Blas Iglesias Fernandez when he was in charge of the Indian team. The two have a good working relationship and Sandhu is open to having the Cuban back at the helm of the Indian team.   -  V. V. SUBRAHMANYAM

Two years after being banned for his role in L. Sarita Devi’s Asian Games meltdown, the former India coach, Blas Iglesias Fernandez of Cuba, is back in the country to conduct clinics for coaches and perhaps try to get back to his previous position.

It is learnt that Fernandez has been recommended to the Boxing Federation of India (BFI) for a possible comeback and the matter is under consideration. However, when asked if he had spoken to the BFI about his possible reinstatement as India coach, Fernandez was evasive.

“I have discussed some ideas but nobody is clear about things right now. So I will see how things progress from here,” Fernandez said.

Fernandez was at the ringside when Sarita had lost in the semifinals of the Asian Games after seemingly dominating the bout. Like Sarita, who broke down after the result of the bout was announced, the Cuban, it is alleged, also could not hide his anger and burst out against the officials. This resulted in a stringent AIBA ban that ended in October this year. Fernandez was also fined 2,000 Swiss Francs for breaching discipline.

Even if he were to consider a comeback, Fernandez said he would not want to travel with the team at least for sometime. “If I come back, I wish to be based completely in India. I want to train the juniors and the sub-juniors, and even the seniors if needed. But I don’t want the travelling part. I was banned for two years by the AIBA and it is better if I don’t travel internationally too much,” he said.

“I recently met the boxers in Punjab’s junior camp and it was a good experience,” he added.

Fernandez is currently in Chandigarh on the invitation of Punjab’s Department of Sports to conduct clinics for boxing coaches in universities.

The 61-year-old coach, who left the country in February last year, has been in Chandigarh since November 4 and will be based there until December 10.

Fernandez said he is happy to be back in India where he served as coach with the senior national team for more than two decades. “I can’t tell you how happy I am to be back in the country that I consider my second home,” he said.

During the two years he was away from India, Fernandez said he kept himself busy by training boys at a local club in Cuba. “I was training boxers at my local club. Life was good there too, and I got some good time with my family. But life is good here too and I would be happy to stay back if there is an opportunity,” he said.

“I have reconnected with some of my friends and it was nice to see them happy to see me here,” he added.

Fernandez has a good working relationship with the current national coach, Gurbax Singh Sandhu, who has already stated that he would not mind having the Cuban back.

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