National Boxing C'ship: Thapa, Kumar to compete in higher categories

Olympian Boxers Shiva Thapa and Manoj Kumar will not be competing in their usual 56kg and 64kg categories. instead they have decided to compete in the 60kg and the 69kg category respectively.

Manoj Kumar, Shiva Thapa and Devendro Singh will be competing in the National Boxing Championship.   -  R.V Moorthy

Olympian boxers Shiva Thapa, Manoj Kumar and L. Devendro Singh will be among the prominent faces which will be seen in action in the National Boxing Championship, starting at the Nabin Chandra Bordoloi Indoor Stadium, Sarusajai, here on Thursday.

Interestingly, Shiva and Manoj have decided to compete in higher weight categories and assess themselves.

Shiva, who has bagged an Asian title and World Championship bronze medal in 56kg, will now compete in 60kg. The 22-year-old Assam boxer did not get adequate time to train and get himself ready for 56kg and would use the opportunity to test himself in the ring after putting on a few more kgs.

At 29, Manoj, a Commonwealth Games gold medallist and an Asian championship medallist in 64kg, also chose to fight in a heavier weight. “It was becoming difficult to maintain my weight for 64kg. I made a conscious decision and prepared to box in 69kg. I am happy that I beat Commonwealth Games silver medallist Mandeep Jangra in the Railways trials,” said Manoj, who would represent his employer.

“Boxing in the higher weight demands more strength and I need to work on that. A competition provides an opportunity to assess one’s weaknesses.”

Devendro, who narrowly missed out on qualifying for the Rio Olympics, will also seek to get back in the competitive mode here.

Former National chief coach G.S. Sandhu, who has been appointed as the head coach for women, was happy that the pugilists would now get some events to prove their worth. “There was no domestic competition due to the problems surrounding the federation. Everybody is waiting anxiously. This will give a good platform to have a look at experienced and young boxers. It is an opportunity for the seasoned boxers to evaluate themselves and the up-and-coming to get motivated and work hard.”

After the successful conduct of the National Women’s Championship at Haridwar last month, the men’s event, which will have 300 boxers from more than 30 units competing in three rings, will again examine the organisational skills of the newly-elected Boxing Federation of India (BFI).

The scoring system had created a chaotic situation at Haridwar, prompting the organisers to switch to manual scoring in the final stages of the event. The BFI top officials assured that such glitches would be rectified here.

The championship will also help BFI pick a pool of talented boxers for the National camp keeping in mind the bigger international competitions in the coming years.