A fill for the fans

The Senior National boxing championship at Bangalore did draw huge crowds if only on the final day. The preliminary rounds and semi-final stages had mostly competitors and contingents from the various participating teams cheering for their team-mates.

D. RAVI SHANKARD. Ravi Shankar

George Orwell, the English novelist and essayist had likened sport to mock warfare. Even club level and village level soccer matches were in reality, battles between groups of people, Orwell had opined. The sport of boxing is probably a prime example of bloody hand to hand contests between pugilists.

Bijendar Singh of Haryana (right) lands a punch on Harvinder Singh of Punjab in the light welterweight final of the 50th Senior National boxing championship. Bijendar was adjudged the Best Boxer of the championship. — Pic. G. P. SAMPATH KUMAR-

Norman Mailer, the writer of American literature once wrote a piece on a professional heavyweight bout and he had said no other sport arouses so much passion. Professional bouts at Madison Gardens attract huge crowds and Mailer had remarked that strangely it was women who cheered and shouted the loudest.

The Senior National boxing championship at Bangalore did draw huge crowds if only on the final day. The preliminary rounds and semi-final stages had mostly competitors and contingents from the various participating teams cheering for their team-mates. The Chief Minister of Karnataka who arrived well ahead of schedule, watched the final keenly. Probably having heard that the country's top boxers including Ng Dingko Singh, Diwakar Prasad, Khemanand Belwal and V. Johnson were contesting, the desire to see some good bouts prompted S. M. Krishna to reach the stadium ahead of schedule.

Neither the Chief Minister nor the good crowd that had assembled were disappointed. The organisers saved the best bout for the last, with Diwakar Prasad pitted against title holder Dalbir Singh in the bantamweight section.

Diwakar danced out of his corner at the clang of the bell and threw a couple of exploratory punches to size up his opponent. With Dalbir taking a little time to get the measure of Diwakar, the latter went for the technical two left jabs followed with a right. Landing a couple of solid punches Diwakar was the clear winner of the first round.

Dalbir took up the challenge in the second and counter-attacked with gusto. For every punch that Diwakar landed, Dalbir had a reply. The round ended with Diwakar consolidating his lead by a single point. In the third round Dalbir again unleashed a series of punches and with some of his hooks connecting had Diwakar reeling under the impact. Diwakar to his credit stayed upright and even managed to throw some of his own punches effectively.

Realising that he had a lead till the fourth round, Diwakar needed to end the bout without giving Dalbir a chance to bridge the points gap. Dalbir made a valiant attempt and pushing Diwakar onto the ropes executed a couple of solid blows, which had Diwakar taking the count. A late gasp bid by Diwakar in which he went hammer and tongs helped him collect the vital points to emerge winner on points.

The toast of the tournament was Bijendar Singh of Haryana. Fighting in the light welterweight category, Bijendar took his reputation up a couple of notches when he upstaged defending champion V. Harikrishnan in the semi-final. High on confidence with encouraging words from his coach, Bijendar landed an uppercut on Harikrishnan, which had the referee taking the count till eight. Bijendar followed up with a couple of other power packed blows including a left jab to the midriff. Harikrishnan held on to lose on points.

In the final Bijendar, who was declared Best Boxer needed just two thudding blows to end the contest. An uppercut followed up with hook to the head saw Harvinder Singh of Punjab tell the referee he had had enough. It was a classy display from Bijendar.

Diwakar Prasad (red) in action against defending champion Dalbir Singh in the bantamweight category. Diwakar won this title. This was one of the best bouts in the championship._Pic. G. P. SAMPATH KUMAR-

Karnataka's V. Lavi raised hopes of a gold medal when in the semi-final Lavi stopped Manipur's Khomba Singh in his tracks. Lavi's left hook-right landed squarely on Khomba Singh and immediately afterwards his right hook -left combination had Khomba Singh unable to keep upright. Khomba Singh surrendered after those two blows.

Lavi however was up against a more seasoned boxer in the final. Dilbagh Singh assessed Lavi's technique to a `T' and swayed out of the reach of Lavi's strong punches, landed his left-cross rights with telling accuracy. Dilbagh pushed on to a clear points victory. Lavi gained some consolation in being declared the `Best loser.'

Services once again annnexed the team championship while Railways yet again ended up runner-up. Haryana did well to finish third.

Another humdinger of a contest was the bout between Parvinder and Durjay Shastri in the middleweight category. The bout was a no holds barred slugfest from the start. With both Parvinder and Durjay attacking fiercely it was a tough call for the judges to count the points winning blows. At the end of the contest the scores were a tied 28 all. Parvinder had the edge in the individual countback and won at 112-95.

Services finished on top in the team championship. -- Pic. G. P. SAMPATH KUMAR-

During the semi-final stage a few bouts ended even before the bell to end the first round. Service's super heavyweight boxer V. Johnson looked mean and menacing and with one killer punch flattened Deepak Tyagi of Rajasthan. Deepak threw in the towel after being jarred by Johnson's thundering left hook. The other Super heavyweight semi-final too was an equally short lived contest with Meghalaya's Jitender Singh battering Andhra Pradesh's P. Amarnath into a first round submission. The final proved to be a fantastic bout with defending champion Johnson dancing and weaving around the ring Mohammed Ali style and picking up points. Jitender was a worthy opponent and despite taking some powerful punches stood his ground. In fact in the final round, Jitender had Johnson in some trouble after connecting some of his left crosses. Johnson won the bout on points.

In the lightweight section, Ng Dingko Singh made a great comeback after a gap of almost a year. The stylish pugilist representing the Services is a real showman and goes the ritual of waving to the crowd and saluting the judges before and after every bout of his. He also prays on the mat prior to and after the match. Dingko's strength is his ability to use the space in the ring and make his opponent chase him around.

Dingko also has a number of punches in his repertoire including the straight jabs and the left-right hooks. In the event of his opponent preferring to infight Dingko slips in a couple of powerful uppercuts. In his bout for the title against Dharamveer of the Railways, Dingko was the clear winner on points.

The results (all finals):

Light Flyweight: Sonu (Har) lost to Khemanand Belwal (SSCB) 20-36; Flyweight: Girish Pawar (Mah) lost to S Suresh Singh (CISF) 15-28; Featherweight: Mujtaba Kamal (RSPB) lost top A. L Lakra (SSCB) 9-19; Lightweight: Ng Dingko Singh (SSCB) bt Dharamveer Singh (RSPB) 23-12; Light welterweight: Harvinder Singh (Pun) lost to Bijendar (Har) retd. in 1st round.

Welterweight: Dilbagh Singh (AIP) bt V Lavi (Kar) 23-12; Middleweight: Parvinder Singh (Har) bt Durjay Shastri (RSPB) 28-28 (112-95 on countback); Light heavyweight: Anant Singh (injured) w/o to Raj Kumar (AIP); Heavyweight: Harpreet Singh (RSPB) bt Sarvjeet Singh (SSCB) 31-11.

Super Heavyweight: Jitendar Kumar (Megh) lost to V Johnson (SSCB) 10-14; Bantam weight: Diwakar Prasad (RSPB) bt Dalbir Singh (CISF) 36-31.

Team Championship: 1.Services Sports Control Board (50 pts), 2. Railways Sports Promotion Board (37 pts), 3. Harayana (33 pts).