Competitors first, brothers later: Nievas reunite at India Open

Being professionals, duty is the first priority for Santiago Nieva — India’s high-performance director — and his brother Fabricio, who is shepherding the Argentine team.

Santiago Nieva (left) and his brother Fabricio. Photo: Special Arrangement

Professional sports may present some difficult moments. India’s chief performance director Santiago Nieva and his elder brother Fabricio Nieva faced such a situation whenever they seconded Indian and Argentine boxers, respectively, in the India Open international boxing tournament here.

However, being professionals duty was the first priority for the two brothers — who represented Sweden and Argentina at their peak. “It will matter in the Olympics. Here, it’s more like training,” said Santiago.

Fabricio, however, differed. “Inside the ring, I’m worried about my boxer. He is my brother outside the ring,” said Fabricio, who represented Argentina in the 1996 Atlanta Olympics and won a World Cup bronze medal in 1998.

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They had done this earlier, too, when Fabricio was coaching in Sweden and Santiago was the coach of Argentina. “It was a friendly contest,” said Santiago.

Family sport

Santiago reflected how the two brothers made it a family sport even though their predecessors had no connection with boxing. “When we [were] 14-15 years old we went to a boxing club in Sweden. Later, he qualified from Argentina to compete in the Olympics. I tried it in Sweden but could not do it,” said Santiago.

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Remembering their younger days, Fabricio said, “In a youth championship final in Sweden in 1992 I defeated Santiago. I won 3-2 in 54 kg. It was a good fight and entertaining for the spectators but they didn’t notice I landed some soft punches. We didn’t hit each other with full power.”

Fabricio, however, had immense respect for Santiago as a boxer.“He was a good boxer, too. Once, he was ranked quite higher in the AIBA rankings,” said Fabricio.