National Boxing C'ships: Focus on Olympic weight divisions

The finalists in the Olympic weight divisions will earn a chance to compete in the selection trials for Asian Olympic qualifiers.

Shiva Thapa (left) will be among the big names in action at the National Boxing Championships in Baddi, Himachal Pradesh.   -  Special Arrangement

With about four months to go for the Asian Olympic qualifiers, the focus will be on the Olympic weight divisions in the National boxing championships starting at the Baddi University of Science and Technology here from Friday.

As per the selection criteria finalized by the Boxing Federation of India (BFI) for the qualifiers, two World championships medalists, Amit Panghal (52kg) and Manish Kaushik (63kg), have already selected themselves for the Asian qualifier in Wuhan, China, in February.

In the remaining six weights – 57kg, 69kg, 75kg, 81kg, 91kg and +91kg – selection trials will be held among boxers who competed in the World championships (and are exempted from participating in the Nationals), the finalists here and a top performer in each weight.

“There will be keen contests in Olympic weights. The fight will be also be good in 52kg and 63kg. If Amit and Manish don’t qualify, then others may get a chance in the next (World) qualifier,” said National head coach C.A. Kuttappa.

“Since the focus is on the Olympics, certain weights have been aligned with that of the Tokyo Games. Instead of 51kg, 56kg and 64kg, we are having 52kg, 57kg and 63kg respectively.”

Former World youth champion Sachin Siwach, who jumped from 52kg to 57kg and beat Worlds medallist Gaurav Bidhuri in the Railways selection trials, and Commonwealth Games bronze medallist Mohammed Hussamuddin from Services promise a strong battle in the bantamweight.

Besides, World medallist Shiva Thapa (63kg), reigning 52kg National champion P.L. Prasad, National 60kg silver medallist Ankush Dahiya (now in 64kg), another National silver medallist Dinesh Dagar (69kg) who upset an Olympic medal winner in GeeBee event this year, 64kg National title holder Rohit Tokas (now in 75kg) and promising Services man Lalampuia (75kg) and Commonwealth Games medallist Naman Tanwar (91kg) will be some of the prominent boxers to be seen in action.

Since most of its top boxers will participate in the World Military Games in Wuhan this month, Services has fielded some talented youngsters in the Nationals.

Railways, too, has chosen a couple of new faces in lower weights.

Haryana, a traditional powerhouse, is expected to spring surprises